Imagine an army with more generals than foot soldiers, or a battleship with more admirals than sailors. Imagine a nation with more presidents than voters, or a business with more CEOs than “human resources.” Wars may not be won. The ship will be stuck in the harbor. Industry might grind to a halt.
Leaders are important, but the rank and file gets the bathrooms cleaned and the trash taken out. Without ordinary people doing ordinary jobs, nothing much happens. True, some leaders know how to sweep the floor and type a letter, yet as soon as they do tasks like that, some think they have stepped from the leader role, even though those willing to do so are often said to be humble people.
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5–7)
Last Sunday, our pastor challenged us with another man’s sermon. He played a video from this year’s Global Leadership Summit. The speaker challenged the rank and file to become more deeply involved with Christ’s work of building His church. He asked us to offer ourselves and all that we have to that great endeavor because the church is God’s evidence on earth of His grace and mercy.
We were given a prayer sheet as a sample. As I hold it in front of me and daily offer myself in whatever role God has for me, I realize the vital importance of ordinary people in the work of God. We do have many incredible leaders. Our own pastor is a godly, prayerful man who cares greatly for his church and community. He has a passion for people and it shows in all that he does. What if every rank and file were like that?
What if the foot soldiers in the army of God did all that their leaders commanded? What if the spiritual battles that threaten the church were fought by every person on board? What if all citizens of the kingdom of God put the business of the kingdom before every other endeavor and interest in their lives? What if each person in the church got behind their CEOs (instead of criticizing them)?
My role might be cleaning toilets and taking out the trash, but if I function as God intends, I will do those jobs joyfully and with my very best effort. Humility isn’t just for those in prominent roles; it if for the rest of us who too often want to start at the top in whatever place we are put.
Humility is about obedience and serving others, but it is also about leaving my worries at the feet of God. He cares about my reputation and status more than I do. He wants me to use all my skills to the very best of my ability but He also wants me to put His kingdom and His righteousness first. Humility is not about demeaning myself or putting myself down; it is about putting others above me. Humility considers the needs of others and does not think about itself at all. As Peter says, the way to be humble is to put all my concerns about “self” into the mighty hands of God — because He cares for me.
I can imagine the church where leaders and workers join arm in arm to build the kingdom of God. I can see all of us putting ourselves at the disposal of Jesus Christ whose plan it is to build His church, a church that the gates of hell cannot overcome. Now the task is doing my part to make that vision a reality.