By Katie Pearson
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:12–14
Grace is perhaps the most powerful force on the planet. It saved us from eternal separation from God and continues to empower us daily as we wrestle with living as servant leaders in Christ. Yet, as we experience more leadership success and influence, it’s easy to discount the importance of grace. The more people acknowledge our spiritual authority, the easier it is to disregard that we are still sinners. Rather than turn to Jesus for a daily outpouring of grace to provide strength, humility, and wisdom, we start to rely on ourselves. This is dangerous territory, and it’s more common among Christian leaders than we like to acknowledge.
Paul wants Timothy to understand the holy tension in being chosen, called, and utterly dependent on Christ in all things. Who is bolder than Paul and yet vulnerable about sharing his weakness? In 2 Corinthians 12:9, he goes so far as to say, “for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In his life and letters, Paul celebrated his limitations so that Christ’s power would rest on him. That’s true humility.
It’s not common for secular leaders to be open about their shortcomings, past or present. They think that looking weak or limited might detract from their power and deflect admiring followers. But Christian leaders must be transparent in order to develop self-aware and Spirit-led disciples, as well as to prevent becoming personally self-reliant and prideful. Our job is to point people to Christ for all their needs and be an example of how to live an empowered life.
It’s important to note that pride often sounds like thinking of yourself more highly than you ought (Romans 12:3), but it can also appear as putting yourself down. This is almost more damaging because when leaders constantly belittle themselves or live under a cloud of self-condemnation, the grace of God is not celebrated. If you find yourself more focused on your sin than grace, seek wise counsel and revisit the truth of the Gospel.
In his writings and ministry, Paul demonstrates a holy balance between bold confidence and genuine humility. When Paul writes to Timothy, God’s Word also ministers to us. Whatever your age or season of life, be willing to prayerfully examine these truths to glorify God in thought, word, and deed!
Reflection: Lord, help me walk the line between holy confidence and humility. I recognize that I can’t do this without the help of the Holy Spirit, convicting and gently encouraging me to move forward in grace. I pray that I can become a leader who listens to your voice first. Amen.
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