Theology Thursday: Humility as the Building Block of Growth

Two girl friends praying on a bench together showing humility before God

As we continue our “one another” series, Peter provides us with a great perspective as he teaches lessons on leadership in 1 Peter 5. He begins by sharing the importance of receiving wise counsel from the established elders. These few words show that having an openness to learning and a spirit of rectitude as a display of wisdom is important. But he doesn’t stop there.

Peter also addresses those younger leaders, asking them to display a willingness to being taught. He then inserts the qualifier for receiving and giving instruction between these two groups, which is to acquire and put into practice the virtue of humility. He writes, “. . .Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another,” (1 Peter 5:5b, ESV). Humility demands that "self" get out of the way, right away. A marked departure from arrogance is imperative if one truly desires to be mature and serve one another, God’s way.

Humility in a Leader’s Heart

Peter captures the essence of how to do this fittingly when it comes to shepherding a body of believers.

His words from a pastor’s heart to leaders regarding the delicate work of caring for souls likened to a flock of sheep in the passages preceding hits home. Ministry leaders have the incredible responsibility for the care of fragile people, and the lack of care or even a glimpse of immaturity in the work with delicate human beings will not do the job. Neither of these actions seeks out humility and love as a first order of business.

Humility as My Responsibility

He then explains that honest and genuine relationships among leaders are the foundation for leading persons to Christ. Nothing else will do when it comes to God’s love for the individual that needs to grow spiritually if humility is the bottom line.

This is what clothing ourselves in humility looks like and feels like, biblically speaking, when we cover all those inner layers of our prideful self that would be the first “weapon of heart disruption.” To fully clothe the physical body gives an image of an outer layer of protection, and to do this internally is to ensure that humility inhabits the very core of our being. Once secured there, the grace of God should flow easily, and things can work well as Peter envisions.

Humility, the Foundation

The Message version interprets this verse by saying, “And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders, and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for - God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people” (1 Peter 5:5, MSG).

Plain and simple. This cuts to the chase and leaves us with no other option for how to conduct ourselves as Christian leaders. We are to understand deeply what "humility toward one another" means when it comes to leadership. However, enacting humility in our everyday life, no matter who we are with and why, will always keep us “down to earth” where we belong.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.