Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead, and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
Many would argue that Reverend Billy Graham was the most influential Christian leader of the 20th century. Leader of global revival gatherings. Confidante to presidents. Charismatic and clear with the gospel message. These are descriptions many would use to explain Graham and his far-reaching influence.
Yet, while some would equate this kind of status with the word “power,” the word most often used by his family in the days after his recent passing was “humble.” His son, Franklin, described his father in this way: “My father was a very humble person. He never saw himself as a celebrity. He just always saw himself as a farm boy from Mecklenburg County. But God for some reason just touched my father and blessed him. So the successes, he’d want everyone to know, it was God that did it, not him.”
The Bible is filled with godly men and women like Graham who humbled themselves before God and led with integrity and humility. But one of Scripture’s greatest heroes was also called the most humble man on the face of the earth. His name was Moses.
Yes. The same man adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. The same man who led two million Israelites across the Red Sea. The same man who met with God on the mountain and delivered the Ten Commandments to the people. No doubt, Moses’ leadership credentials would rival any powerful world leader who has ever lived—even more than Billy Graham. Deuteronomy 34:10 says, “No prophet has arisen again in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unparalleled for all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do against the land of Egypt—to Pharaoh, to all his officials, and to all his land, and for all the mighty acts of power and terrifying deeds that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.”
Yet, also tucked in the Pentateuch is this one small verse. Numbers 12:3 says, “Moses was a very humble man, more so than anyone on the face of the earth.”
As a leader, what can you learn about humility? While the list can be long, here are three takeaways you can learn from the life of Moses and other leaders who lead with humility.
- Leaders with humility lead a life of surrender.
Early in Moses’ life he murders an Egyptian who was being harsh with an Israelite slave. He flees to Egypt and finds himself as a shepherd in the wilderness. In Exodus 3, the Lord appears to Moses in a burning bush and gives him the leadership assignment of a lifetime—go back to Egypt and free the Hebrew people. Even in his hesitancy to accept this calling, Moses finally surrenders his fear and his inadequacies and heads back to Egypt. He takes one step and then another, but only in surrender to where the Lord was leading.
- Leaders with humility lead from a life of preparation.
I love hearing stories from leaders who see how God has shaped their past and used it for the position they steward. Nothing from Moses’ past, including his failures, was a waste in God’s economy. While God used Moses’ experience growing up in the palace, I believe his true preparation happened in the wilderness as a shepherd. Leaders must spend time in the “field of preparation” and be faithful and teachable. Humble leaders learn from their mistakes and learn from others. Moses learned from his mistakes and took advice from others, including his father-in-law.
- Leaders with humility are faithful in the small things and do them with excellence.
I know a lot of young women who want to change the world. I love their passion of wanting to be the “next” platform speaker or writer. I love their desire to eradicate social injustices. Yet, many times, these same young women aren’t willing to do the things that seem beneath them. Humble leaders are willing to start small, learn from others, and be faithful for the long haul. I still remember the moment I felt called to teach and lead women, yet found myself at a conference cleaning and placing handouts on tables during a break. I honestly don’t remember being unhappy about helping, but my pastor’s wife noticed my work while others were getting refreshments. She made her way beside me and gave me this encouragement. She said, “I know you see yourself leading this conference someday and being on stage, but keep doing the small things. What you are doing right now is just as important.” I’ve never forgotten her encouragement, which wouldn’t be the last time she was my cheerleader for leadership. I learned that humble leaders are willing to take the stage, but they are also willing to serve others—even if it means cleaning the toilets.
I recently heard an illustration of someone being given the choice of a $100 bill or $100 in quarters. The speaker encouraged young people that there are times God may ask you to lead by placing everything on the line—the whole $100. But, more often, God wants you to take the $100 in quarters and say yes one quarter at a time. Humility in leadership is developed over time when you say “yes” to the little things. Be faithful. Be humble. And let God lead you first before you can lead others.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Women. She and her husband, Vic, have been married for more than 28 years and have enjoyed serving together in ministry both teaching in student ministry for 25 years and teaching young married adults. They have two young adult children, Conner and Courtney, and a son-in-law, Gaige. They enjoy kayaking, having people in their home, and cheering for the Oklahoma City Thunder. A good day includes mocha lattes, Mexican food, and shopping for bargains.