A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.
The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. “It’s perfectly all right, Madam,” he replied. “Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it’s always a delight to do something for a friend.” She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.- Our Daily Bread.
A Leaders Greatest Gift
“The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord is wealth, honor, and life.” Proverbs 22:4
As a leader, you learn early on that pride can put up a wall between you and your people. Servant leaders understand that humility is their greatest gift. I love the example in the story above. Booker T. Washington could have puffed up his chest and put this lady in her place. “Don’t you realize who I am?” However, his humble spirit led to a lasting relationship and helped to advance his ministry.
Humility Allows for Growth
“When pride comes, so does shame, but wisdom brings humility.” Proverbs 11:2
Tim Hansel tells the story of the famous inventor Samuel Morse who was once asked if he ever encountered situations where he didn’t know what to do. Morse responded, “More than once, and whenever I could not see my way clearly, I knelt down and prayed to God for light and understanding.”
Morse received many honors from his invention of the telegraph but felt undeserving: “I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me.” Tim Hansel, Eating Problems for Breakfast, Word Publishing, 1988, pp. 33-34.
When leaders are armed with enough humility they are in a position to learn from others; the young leaders in their midst, the seasoned believers, the saints in the pew, even non-believers. To move your church from here to God’s preferred future, you have to listen to the wisdom and ideas of others. It is challenging when the mantle of leadership falls on your shoulders to realize you don’t have to nor should you shoulder that burden alone. The journey is much more enjoyable if you share it with the gifted people God has surrounded you within your ministry. Humility allows you to see those gifts and utilize them. It is not about you anyway, it has been and always will be about God and His will for His Church.