Gospel-Driven Humility

Paul’s gospel-centered encouragement for humility, found in Philippians 2:1-11, serves as a model for all Christians, but especially for leaders and pastors

“Spiritual pride is a destructive force within the church.  This force is most devastating when it finds its way into the heart and actions of the spiritual leaders in a church.  The solution, of course, is humility.”


“If the Lord were to honor me any more, he would make me the janitor.”

With those words, spoken by a friend and mentor, I was simultaneously shocked, rebuked, and encouraged.

My friend had served his church in various roles for many years.  He is respected, he has initiated many successful ministry endeavors, he is sought after for his wisdom, he is an example of evangelistic fervor, and he is a passionate communicator of God’s Word.  During one particular tumultuous season of ministry in his megachurch, he served as the church’s interim pastor, providing stability and vision for thousands of saints.  When a new senior pastor was found, he humbly stepped out of the pulpit and continued to serve the church faithfully in various pastoral roles.

Following the implementation of the new senior pastor, the church offices for the large staff were shuffled around between several campuses.  At one point, my friend was given a new office… down a hallway, up a flight of stairs, down another hallway, into the interior of the building, with no window, next to the janitor’s supply closet.  It was not easy to find.  When I went there I remember thinking, “Why have they put this revered leader in a closet?”

I was not alone in my thoughts.  When his teenage daughter first came to his new office, tears streamed down her face.  “Baby, what’s wrong?” he asked.  She replied, “After all you’ve given to this church, after all the years serving here, after all of this, this is where they put you—next to the janitor?”

That’s when he told her, “Honey if the Lord were to honor me any more, he would make me the janitor.”

God has used those words many times in my life to rebuke and encourage me as a leader and a pastor.  I’ve found myself mopping the church floors, cleaning toilets, mowing the church yard, and doing countless other jobs and handyman tasks around the church building.  Sometimes I do it joyfully and sometimes I grumble inwardly.  My friend’s words remind me that there are no tasks in ministry that are beneath me.  More than that, his words remind me of God’s Word.

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