What humility does for leadership

A Christian Science perspective.

By , News editor for the Christian Science magazines

Today, people often dwell on the foibles and failures of leaders and others in the news. But it's more instructive and inspiring to identify and actively appreciate the spiritual qualities that so many are expressing in their lives. Integrity, strength, courage, honesty, joy, intelligence, and wisdom are among the characteristics that translate into true leadership, whether these people are men or women, in the public or the private sector.

Humility is one such quality. Sometimes it seems in short supply, perhaps because people think it suggests weakness. The Bible gives examples, which we can follow in this day and age, of strong individuals who were also humble. Consider Moses. It may be hard to think of this great leader, who guided the rather rambunctious nation of Israelites to the Promised Land, as "meek." But that's one way the Bible describes him (Num. 12:3).

No one knows for sure how many Israelites joined him, but it could have been thousands, and not all were ready to accept Moses' leadership. The beauty of Moses' humility is that it turned him to God for guidance every step of the way. When Pharaoh's well-equipped army attacked, Moses' conviction of God's power enabled the Israelites to defeat them and to escape danger without the use of weapons.

Moses was able to provide food and water for the people, through God's help. He gave them laws to live by in the form of the Ten Commandments, which many would consider the most significant piece of divine law ever. As Mary Baker Eddy concluded, "Moses advanced a nation to the worship of God in Spirit instead of matter, and illustrated the grand human capacities of being bestowed by immortal Mind" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 200).

There's no doubt that Moses expressed strength, courage, intelligence, and many other spiritual qualities. But his humility showed him where to put his trust, and the world is a different and better place as a result.

Jesus also expressed profound humility. At one point he told the people who had come to hear him preach, "I can of mine own self do nothing … I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father, which hath sent me" (John 5:30). This willingness to surrender his own agenda to God's enabled him to heal and transform people, by understanding God's love for them. It empowered him to challenge death successfully, and began the movement that became Christianity. His ministry has stood the test of time and has inspired generations not just to do good works but also to sacrifice in the hope of helping others.

Each of us can aspire to the kind of humility that brings out the best in us – that enables us to see more of our God-given spiritual nature, and to be confident that God is strengthening and puri­fying us each step of the way. And when we do this in our own ways, we, too, will be changing the world.

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