Recently, I wrote about the “Pharaoh Syndrome” from the Bible in Exodus 9. In that chapter God states that He is about making His own name great. He also makes the point that He is opposed to those who are bent on exalting themselves. Pharaoh was not part of the people of God. He was an Egyptian, not a Hebrew. But lest we think that this only applies to secular leaders we must read another scenario found in Luke 14 where Jesus is addressing a group of religious leaders.
Jesus had been invited to dinner by one of these religious leaders. The other dinner guests were fellow Pharisees and scribes. Jesus noticed that this distinguished group was vying for the best places around the table, the places of honor. He proceeds to tell them a parable about choosing your seat carefully at a wedding feast. This is certainly also a reference to the kingdom of God.
In v.11 Jesus says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
He follows this verse with some personal advice to the ruler of the Pharisees who had invited him to this meal. He instructs him to not invite those who will be obligated to repay him, and will do so out of their wealth, but to invite those who are poor and have no ability to repay.
Hidden in these few verses are two principles about humility.
Humility is choosing the lowest place.
Humility is serving those who can’t repay you.
In the parable, Jesus illustrates that one should always choose the lowest place at the table, that they might be honored later. If you seek the position of honor it will elude you to your shame. The personal advice that is given to the dinner host is the idea that if you only invite or serve those who are able to repay you, then when they invite you to dinner you have been repaid. But if you invite or serve those who have no ability to repay you, you are blessed and your re-payment is in eternity. At the heart of exaltation is self righteousness and self recompense. Jesus is opposed to both. Jesus came as a ransom to serve and not be served. To give His life for ours. This is at the heart of the gospel and the gospel moves us to humility, choosing to be less than and to serve.
Jesus is addressing the religious elite in his passage. These rulers are Hebrews, not secular leaders.
Humility is at the core of true servant, Christ-centered leadership.
Humility is choosing the lower place each day. Humility is serving those who can’t repay you.
What does that practically look like in your leadership context?