Building your Singles Ministry/Personal Growth by Other Authors
Greatness and Humility - Can You Have Both By Cheryl Scanlan
Is it possible to have greatness and still be humble? I would say the only way you can have true greatness is to be humble. What images or ideas come to mind when you read that statement?
"The only way you can have true greatness is to be humble."
Before we can look at the connection between greatness and humility for the Christian, we need to look at common myths or ways of thinking about greatness.
Myths like: ·You can’t have a great business if you are a Christian. ·If you are too great, you can’t be truly humble. ·You have nothing to do with your greatness, it was all Jesus. ·It’s wrong for a Christian to think about being great. ·I can be great when I volunteer or feed the poor, but I can’t be a great leader of my company. ·If I’m great, then I’m in danger of Satan attacking me, so I play small. ·I need to stay small so people don’t think I’m egotistical.
As familiar as these statements may sound, they are all incorrect. They come from the inability of man to make sense of something that is, at times, uncomfortable, feels worldly and/or keeps the leader operating in the confines of a system that does not allow for personal or professional greatness. Bottom-line, we play too small thinking it is what God is asking of us.
We know that God’s kingdom is an upside-down kingdom.We know that the last shall be first, the least will be the greatest.Yet, as leaders, we also have to acknowledge people like Daniel, Joseph, Nehemiah, Moses – people who were in positions of great authority, great influence, great responsibility.Although all experienced many opportunities to cave to self-righteous anger, self-pursuing pleasure and self-seeking power they operated, for the most part, from a different paradigm.This paradigm is what we explore. What did Jesus say about greatness?
Matthew 20:26 (NIV) says: "…Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." Cross reference this scripture and you will find many more that make it clear that Christ never had a problem with His disciples being great. He simply showed them how to do it in a way that honored the Gospel and the Kingdom.
The disciples were accustomed to living according to the system of the world, which is understandable because that’s all they knew. Through Jesus, they learned of a new everlasting Kingdom, one in which greatness is achieved by being the servant of all. True greatness is grounded and fed through humility.
I know of a prominent businessman who sought to grow his company and asked: "How do I balance my desire to build a great business with my Christian faith? Can I have both?" Although he was experienced and competent in his profession, he was mixed up about God’s heart on greatness. He didn’t have clarity about the Biblical meaning of greatness and may have been embracing the world’s definition instead. The Biblical definition of greatness is to serve all; the world’s definition is to serve yourself.
Thomas A. Tarrants, from the C.S. Lewis Institute, writes in his article Greatness in God’s Kingdom: "The great ones of the earth, he said, are noted for exalting themselves and for exercising power, domination, and control over those under them. But life in the kingdom of God does not operate this way. It is an upside-down kingdom, just the opposite of the kingdoms of this world. And nowhere is this more obvious than in matters of power and leadership. Jesus said that those who want to be great in God’s kingdom may achieve that, but not by the world’s methods. Believers can achieve greatness only by first redefining greatness in terms of serving others, not just themselves."
Let’s look at two kings, Solomon and Nebuchadnezzar.
King Solomon, realized that he needed to have wisdom so that he could care for and govern the people. When God asked him what he wanted, here is his reply:
"You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth.Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"
God said to Solomon, "Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king,therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." 2 Chronicals 1:8-12 (NIV)
Notice that Solomon’s intentions were to lead God’s people and to serve them well. Contrast that with King Nebuchadnezzar who attributed his success to his own ingenuity and self-sufficiency:
"Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty? Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you.You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes." Daniel 28-32 (NIV)
The first king was motivated by humility and a sense that he wasn’t sure he could do the job, fulfill the promise or lead the people righteously before God. The latter king was motivated by pride and self-importance, exalting himself above all others. Each king had a definition of greatness that reflected the way they thought about themselves, their relationship with others and their wealth.
King Solomon served in humility by relying on God’s guidance and he received great riches and blessings from the Lord. King Nebuchadnezzar attributed his success to his own wisdom and consequently went crazy, losing his ability to govern until he repented. Humility can protect us from humiliation.
As you grow and your influence expands, the need to live humbly is paramount. As your success grows, your lowly position must increase as well. This is to protect you from "Nebuchadnezzar greatness." In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul talks about giving up freedoms and rights he has for the sake of the expansion of the kingdom of God – he was not concerned about building his own kingdom. In fact, he actually rebuked those who would follow anyone but Christ. In living this way, he received the dubious honor of labeling himself the chief of sinners by worldly standards at the end of his life.As he decreased and Christ increased, so too did Paul’s influence. This is an example of true greatness.
Humility and Pride
Peter writes: "Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of yoube submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." 1 Peter 5:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)
When we are truly great in our humility, we are the recipient of God’s grace.However, if we become boastful or try to share the glory with God, we canbecome the subject of His resistance.That is a sobering thought for me.
Just as we learn other leadership skills, we must choose to learn what it means to walk in humility, speak in humility and act in humility. Being a humble leader does not mean you are a weak or ineffective leader. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Leaders who are impacting the world are those who understand the power of humility. This is not taught in business school or in traditional training and development programs. However, having wisdom and humility frees you up so that you don’t have to be a "know it all" or do it in your own strength. Without God’s wisdom, you run on a treadmill of your own making.
I know of one CEO that spends a great deal of time training his senior level team on humility. This is counter intuitive to all. But they are eager to learn the many ways humility can be expressed and demonstrated in their leadership. The tough part about this process is that humility cannot be faked. A leader’s genuine lowly stance becomes highly attractive and trustworthy when generated from a heart that is yielded to a person, purpose and power much greater than himself. Thankfully, the team is fully on board with the process, except maybe one individual who, ironically, is not sure if the culture of the company is a good fit for him anymore. Hmm.
I know of another man who refused to take time off. He was trusting the work of his hands rather than in God’s leading and guidance. Instead of taking time off to rest he didn’t step away from his work for even a day to refuel. He thought if he rested, something would fall through the cracks and it was up to him to keep everything going. However, if you look at companies like Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-A, you will see that both companies are successful and both companies are closed on Sunday. They take one day off a week to honor God and to rest. Have you been to a Chick-Fil-A lately? The lines that routinely wrap around the parking lot shows that trusting God can prove beneficial! And, with Sunday being one of the most profitable days for fast food restaurants, they are not missing out. In fact, they are more profitable than all but two fast food companies that are open seven days a week! We can work ourselves to the bone, but that is not what’s going to make us great. It is God who will exalt and God who will bless the work of our hands. Our job is to follow His ways, do our part and then trust Him.
"So there remains a [full and complete] Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has once entered His rest has also rested from [the weariness and pain of] his [human] labors, just as God rested from [those labors uniquely] His own."Hebrews 4:9-10 (AMP)
Those of us who want to achieve true greatness in the Kingdom of God (as Christians, are we trying to "achieve true greatness in the Kingdom of God?" or is it about God’s glory or something else?) must declare absolute dependence on Godand build that into our daily construct or we will not achieve what we are looking for because greatness is an inner and outer position. Contrary to popular belief, we must become humble inside before greatness can show up on the outside.
Is Humility Passive?
There is a difference between being passive and dependent. God wants us to be dependent on Him, and encourages us to do so in Proverbs:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to (acknowledge) Him, and he will make your paths straight (direct your path)." Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
God wants to help you, because He loves you. He does not want you to spend your career or your life chasing the elusive carrot thinking you must run fast and on your own. It is the work of the Spirit that will guide you forward and support you in good times and difficult times.
I have a client who built a multi-million-dollar business from nothing. He and his family were a part of the local church. As the church was growing, they needed funds to expand the building. My client was feeling a nudge from the Holy Spirit to donate the total net worth of his business to fund the new construction. He didn’t know how He was going to tell his wife, but he was clear that God was speaking to him. When he finally sat down to share with her what he was hearing in his heart, he was delighted to discover that she was also directed by the Lord to donate the money and they did! The exciting part is God more than multiplied what they gave as they were obedient out of dependence on Him. That is humility and trust in action.In hindsight, he sensed the Lord teaching him that all the works of his hands needed to be surrendered so that as the business owner, he could see what happens when the work becomes of the Lord’s hands. Greatness through humility.
If and when God chooses to make your platform bigger, you safeguard your work and life from being taunted by pride and self-sufficiency, because you know that dependency is simply a posture of humility. Even more than that, it reveals what is in the heart.
Greatness and humility are rooted in servanthood such as the lives of Joseph, Moses, David, Paul, Nehemiah and so many others.Whether they were in a jail cell, beaten and forgotten by the world or they held positions of highest honor with eyes lifted toward them from around the world, they all had one thing in common: their own eyes were lifted to the heavenly Father. He alone was exalted in their lives. God cannot "share" His space with other on the throne of our heart.If that happens, we begin to lose our peace, lose our sense of clear purpose and calling causing us to stray or in the case of Judas, result in losing our lives, figuratively and literally to our God-replacing pursuits.
While Solomon started well, having great reverence for God, he didn’t end well. He didn’t guard his heart or protect himself from going astray. He allowed idolatry to have an unchecked place in his heart and life. He made a choice to shift his eyes away from being locked on God, His love, His goodness in Solomon’s life.
"The change that led to the disaster was in Solomon himself. For political reasons Solomon married princesses of the royal houses round about him. These women were idolaters. Jehovah, they regarded as only the national God of the Hebrews. They still clung to their old religions, and worshiped the gods of their nations. Their feelings and sentiments were all in favor of idolatrous worship. These influences Solomon withstood for a long time. His heart held true to God; but these influences kept on working. He was in daily contact with them, and little by little they gained a hold upon him; consequently, we read, "It came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father" (1 Kings 11: 4). As a result, the man who had been so honored by God and who had so honored God became an idolater and put his Lord to an open shame and drew away into the same net of idolatry many of his people." BibleHub.com Heart Talks, Charles Wesley Nadar
Being great in God’s Kingdom requires that we learn how to be servants of all, and how to keep our eyes on God. It’s not to say that you will never be tempted to look away for a moment. Both Kings allowed pride to draw their gaze away, but King Nebuchadnezzar repented and turned back to God in reverence. True repentance begins with a turning of the heart.
As you travel the road of greatness through humility, decide in advance where you will fix your gaze and how you will guard your heart if and as you become more significant and successful. Be careful not to assume that the temptations of pride will never happen to you. Safeguard yourself with humility and be a servant of all. Pride will cause us to fall. Greatness in the way Jesus defined protects us from stumbling.
In due time, God will exalt you as He sees fit. We are not to concern ourselves with those matters.Seek the Father first and always and greatness will follow. The funny thing is, I’m not sure that we will even want or need that exaltation anymore. Perhaps that is the most profound expression of true greatness – to Christ be the glory.
Cheryl Scanlan, MCC, CMCC, BCC is president of C3Advantage. She has worked with CEOs that are in Fortune 100 through next generation small business owners. Having also run a multi-million dollar firm in New York, Cheryl knows the importance of business goals and the impact of teams. Cheryl's thought partnering method helps leaders see clearly what is fuzzy, articulate what is currently unintelligible, and generate coherent and executable strategy.
He's Not Here by Holly Crain
Do teachers take attendance to find out who is in class or not in class? When I was growing up the teacher would call out the names; and like it or not we would have to shout out "HERE"! Eventually, the teachers would let us shout out "NOT HERE" if we knew someone was not in the class that day.
Does it make sense to stay home on Sundays? Satan will try to convince us each and every Sunday morning that it would be the best decision. You see we do have physical needs of rest and probably a really long of things we need to get done. But it doesn't make sense for your spiritual and emotional well-being. We need to take care of our spiritual needs and that is not something that can be picked up at the grocery store or dry cleaners. The reason I know? That was me! As a single mom, I took a Sunday to do just that. By Tuesday, I was so depleted spiritually and emotionally I was a wreck!
I usually didn't hit that low place...so, it took some contemplation to figure out what happened? It was in that moment though that I realized what it was. I had missed out! I missed out on the time that we all set aside to be together at church on Sundays. Was it worth it? Not at all...at that moment I realized how much I needed to be in biblical community and actually they needed me too!
God knew we would need church and that is why He established it the way He did! The writer of Hebrews gave a call to persevere and one that is very relevant for right now! Read Hebrews chapter 10: 22-25: 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.