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Faithful, Submissive, Humble

(1 Peter 5:1-11)

Lesson 8 -- first quarter 1998
January 25, 1998

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1997, Christian Light Publications

I like to be in charge. Is that wrong?
Does being humble mean thinking I'm no good?

So you wonder if liking to be in charge is wrong! Maybe you need to ask yourself two questions: (1) Why should I want to be in charge? (2) Why do I want to be in charge? Once you get the right answers to those questions you will know the answer to the "Is that wrong?" question. Let's use today's lesson text to guide you by looking at three negative reasons for accepting responsibility and authority.

Constraint. "OK, if I have to, I'll do it." " If you insist, I'll accept." God loves a cheerful giver, we know. He also loves willing leaders. People who accept leadership as a burden to be borne by constraint need a change in perspective and disposition! When you are asked to serve on the Youth Committee, do it willingly. When you are put in charge of the dishwashers, do it willingly. When you are assigned a Sunday School teaching assignment, do it willingly.

Personal Gain. "Hmmm. I wonder what I can milk out of this position!" "This is great! I can hardly wait to see what's in this for me!" Perhaps you figure that this one couldn't apply since you can't squeeze any filthy lucre out of any leadership positions you get. But what about prestige and self-image? What about anticipated favors and considerations that a you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours approach can gain you? What about legacy? Legacy? Yes; the idea that this opportunity will allow you to put your stamp on how things are done for the next quite awhile. Whenever you are in charge, remember you have been put there for the gain of others. See to it!

Lordship. "Aha! Finally my time has come. Now I can tell others what to do; now they can find ways to serve and please me. At last I can show so-and-so a thing or two; put him in his place." Sounds incredibly rank, doesn't it; especially in a Christian setting. How can we avoid this viewpoint? Remember this is God's heritage! Jesus is Lord, not you! When God calls leaders, He calls examples, not lords. When God calls leaders, He calls servants, not masters.

These all apply equally to the bishop of the congregation and to the teacher of the Summer Bible School primary class.

Defining and understanding humility poses such a dilema for us. Since we know that pride thinks of itself very highly, we easily assume that humility must think of itself in very poor terms. We know that pride boasts, "I'm soooo good!", so we naturally conclude that humility frets, "I'm noooo good." But guess what. This pride and this "humility" shoot from the same stalk--self-centeredness!

Humility does not deny personal worth, but sacrifices it for the good of another. Humility knows its own strengths, and employs them to benefit others. Humility's focus remains turned outward. Humility has two eyes (look closely and you'll see them!), the better to perceive the needs of others. Humility relates to others as though they were better (Philippians 2:3).

Without this humility we are at best dressed in rags and at worst stark naked. Are you well covered? "Be clothed with humility"!

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