Humility is a bad word in our culture. But it shouldn't be. We associated it with weakness, but it actually requires great strength to be humble.
The best leaders are humble. They don't see themselves as above those they lead. Instead, they see themselves as fellow travelers on a journey in which everyone in the group—including the leader—has the opportunity to grow into better and better versions of themselves.
Jesus was humble. In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul wrote this about Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
None of us will ever match Jesus' humility, but it's something to aspire to in our leadership. Here are a few reasons why being humble is essential to great leadership:
- Humble leaders don't control or manipulate others. This is particularly important for group leaders because, I don't know if you've noticed, but you have no actual authority over the people you lead. You don't sign their paychecks. You can't fire them. You can't punish them if they don't do their homework. And they're only accountable to you and the other members of the group if they choose to be. They will be drawn to and motivated by your humility, though.
- Humble leaders care. And the people they lead know it and appreciate it.
- Humble leaders leverage the influence they've been given on behalf of those they lead instead of for their own benefit. This is related to the first two points. Because humble leaders aren't focused on control and because they care about those they lead, their actions are driven by the shared interests of the group. They aren't self-serving. They serve others. That's the kind of leader Jesus was.
If you want to practice humility in your leadership, consider doing some of the following:
- Pick studies based on the needs of your group members instead of what interests you.
- Make a habit of sending your group members encouraging texts or emails.
- Always follow up on prayer requests (even if you have to take notes in order to remember what you're following up on).
- Be vulnerable and transparent. Your group members will respect you more if you're honest about your own struggles than if you try to present yourself as a perfect Christian.
- Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know. What do you think?" during group discussions.