7 characteristics of pastors who demonstrate humility
Pride is a danger for anyone in authority. Pastors are as vulnerable as anyone.
Consistent pride disqualifies a pastor from ministry. The first chapter of Titus explains how a pattern of arrogance severely limits a shepherd’s ability to manage God’s house and lead God’s people. Any position of power comes with the trap of hubris, but the toxic effects of pride are especially hazardous in the church.
No church leader starts ministry with the goal of building pride. Yet, ironically, even the most seasoned pastors struggle to recognize the warning signs of arrogance. Pride is a blinding sin, in part because of its close association with power.
Long tenures in positions of power make the blinders worse. More authority creates a greater distance between the leader and reality. Humility includes the capacity to assess your abilities and limitations accurately. Power naturally disrupts this ability. Good leadership exists in the constant tension between authority and humility.
There is a lot of truth in the following adage: Humility is not thinking less of yourself but rather thinking of yourself less. The focus of humility is outward, not inward. Internal insecurity is just as prideful as external arrogance. Both focus on self above others. Biblical humility is about a proper view of other people. It’s why Peter describes humility in the context of a relationship with others.
Humility is the ability to see people as God sees them and empathize with their lives. In the context of a local church, what makes a humble pastor?
1. Humble pastors are naturally close to the people they shepherd. Distance from people is a significant warning sign. The further a leader is from the people, the greater the danger of pride. Proximity is needed to balance authority with humility. The humblest pastors are the ones constantly looking for ways to be closer to the people they lead.
2. Humble pastors build bridges rather than burn them. Check a pastor’s social media feed. A pattern of online antagonism is a sign of pride. If a pastor’s calendar is filled with lunch and coffee meetings, it’s a good sign humble bridge-building is occurring.
3. Humble pastors elevate curiosity over the need to be right. They are not afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and they value the process of discovery. Pride refuses to learn. Pride refuses to grow. Pride kills creativity.
4. Humble pastors serve first and lead second. A posture of sacrifice guides them. Hard work that benefits others is a sign of humility. Laziness is selfish and a form of pride.
5. Humble pastors are quick to celebrate the successes of others and slow to accept accolades. They expend energy equipping others rather than promoting themselves.
6. Humble pastors are not afraid to learn from the people they lead. They listen intently and rarely speak first.
7. Humble pastors exhibit high levels of hospitality. Don’t miss this. Pastors must enjoy having people in their homes. Being inhospitable is as much a disqualification from ministry as misguided doctrine.
One last thought—insecurity is not humility; it’s a form of pride. Those who lead from a place of insecurity draw attention to themselves for the sake of their own emotions. Humble leaders project confidence, but this assurance is for the benefit of others and not themselves. Pastors who lead with humility are rooted in confidence that comes from the Holy Spirit. This confidence enables them to serve rather than be served.
This article originally appeared on ChurchAnswers.com and is reposted here by permission.