Line up Moses, King David, the Apostle Paul, and John the Baptist, and you will see leaders who had countless differing characteristics and personality traits. You’ll also find that they shared several in common, one being humility.
Moses stood up to Pharaoh and led the Israelites out of slavery, yet the scriptures speak of Moses as being “very meek, more than all the people who were on the face of the earth.”
David reigned over the unified kingdom and led his people to one victory after another, and was even called a man after God’s own heart, and yet was so lowly in his sin as to pen Psalm 51. “For I know my transgressions,” he said, “and my sin is ever before me.”
Paul, the intrepid apostle, stood before rulers both religious and secular. He had the boldness to challenge his fellow apostle, Peter, to his face. And yet, almost like David’s plea in the psalm, Paul recognized that he was the chief of sinners.
John the Baptist led a spiritual reform movement in Israel and prepared the way for Christ’s ministry. His formal title in the Orthodox Church is “the prophet and forerunner.” But while the crowds pressed in, eager to participate in his ministry, he pointed to Christ and said that he wasn’t even worthy to fiddle with the straps of his sandals.
How many Christian leaders do you know who exhibit such humility? How about you? How about me?
I remember that story of St. Augustine literally running away when he heard that he was to be ordained. He didn’t feel up to the responsibility, up to use of such power. (And, make no mistake, it is power.) Plenty of ministers still run, but not away. It seems very often that they run to the pulpit, run to the office, run to the power—eager to use it. Maybe they do it out of sincerity. I hope so, but there are plenty of sincere egotists mucking up God’s kingdom.
The least, said Christ, are the greatest.