Study leadership for any length of time—at least from a Christian perspective—and you will find out about the foundational importance of humility in a leader. This makes a lot of sense because Jesus, the supreme hero of our faith, both taught and modeled humility. Everything He did was a response to His Father’s will, not His own (John 5:30, 6:38, 8:28). When His closest followers argued over who was the greatest, He told them that those who would be first must be last and become the servant of all (Mark 9:33–37). Humility is essential to Jesus’ model of leadership and thus to His disciple-making mission.
Since humility is foundational to effective disciple-making, it stands to reason that humility is also an effective antidote to one of the most basic disciple-making challenges we face in Western culture: scarcity of time. It takes a little mental effort to make this connection. We know we are busy, and we feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish what we need to accomplish, and also to set aside time for investing in people’s lives, helping them move closer to Jesus. Not all hours are created equal, though.
The impact differential between an hour lived in humility and an hour lived for our own purposes can be huge. When we have a humble, Christ-centered approach to all activities of life, we view these activities as opportunities to serve God and others. This perspective enables us to view every interaction as a disciple-making interaction, and thus the concern about time scarcity starts to fade. If every hour of my life is simply an hour in which I seek to move those around me closer to Jesus, through the tasks I perform and the relationships I engage, there is no time scarcity. Every waking hour is now in play for God’s purposes, because all of what I do is in response to His desires, not my own.
This is a difficult truth because it challenges our selfish desires and ambitions. I’m just like you; my instinct is to do my own thing and pursue my own goals. At the gym, sometimes I’d rather go stretch my tight ankles than interact with someone. But if I interact with someone, I’ve got a much better chance of helping that person see Jesus in who I am, what I do, and what I say. In the office setting, it’s tempting to rush past a person and keep the interaction superficial in the interest of getting back to the blog post I was writing or the email I was working on. If I do that, though, I may miss a great opportunity to be a blessing to that person.
In our saner moments, let us consider that there’s really not any lasting fulfillment in having flexible ankles, but there is lasting fulfillment in making a difference in the lives of those around us. Writing blog posts and emails is important, but helping people is more important, and we often find that helping people ultimately enhances our productivity rather than detracts from it. In the end, the conflict is not between tasks and people, or between accomplishing necessities and disciple-making; it is between an earth-bound, prideful perspective on all we do and a heavenly, humble perspective on the same. Whatever or whoever God brings into my path, if I can take His attitude toward them rather than my own, I’ll stop worrying about freeing up time and start thinking about using the time I already have in the most God-honoring way possible.
Time for your comments. How has being humble with your time expanded your disciple-making opportunities?
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