There are two things that good leaders balance really well – confidence & humility. To make a significant dent in our world, one has to be confident of the abilities they have to offer, while balancing it with thinking of others more than they think of themselves. We must be able to tell ourself “I can do that” while at the same time saying “how can I help others”.
Humility is really the key ingredient. Actually, if you think about it, it’s the most important and most impacting virtue any of us can have. The tough part is believing that it’s true. Why’s it tough? Because you have to convince yourself that moving forward requires you to move backwards, and going up requires you to stoop downward.
As we continue our series in Philippians, we arrive at a point in this letter where Paul urges these first century Christians to live out this value and virtue of humility. In Paul’s view, humility and christianity and inseparable.
Bill Hybel’s wrote a book many years about this very text (2:1-8). Here’s an excerpt,
“God asks us to lose so we can gain. He makes a hard request, then makes a promise. Lose your selfish ambition; I will honour you for loving others. Lose your addiction to things; I will provide for you if you seek me wholeheartedly. Lose your obsession to be in control; I will give you power as you follow me. Lose your appetite for thrills; I will startle you with pleasures you could never have found on your own. Lose your life; I will give you eternity.”
In the first few verses of chapter 2 Paul makes a bold request: Make my joy complete. It’s like when someone asks you the scary questions, ‘Wanna make me happy?’. You know the response to this kind of question requires action, not just a wordy answer. The same is true for Paul. For him there are two things that will make his joy complete: (1) that the Philippians would be united in heart & mind and (2) that they would be humble. We’ve been and will continue to talk about unity and community in this series. Mainly because the over arching theme in this letter is ‘partnership’. However, the idea of humility is what we want to focus on in this post.
Christian or not, acts of humility are like pebbles or river stone that we throw in the lake or the pond; they start with a little ‘plop’ in the water, but the ripples continue far past that initial drop. Humility is like this. We must have enough faith to know that our acts of kindness and grace towards others will go a long way. Paul defines humility like this, ‘putting others interests before your own.’ It’s probably an ideal we have in our head that doesn’t always follow through in our actions.
Paul give us the ultimate metaphor or example of humility – JESUS!
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Even though this text (some call it a hymn or a poem) is full of theological insights (incarnation, Jesus becoming a man, God becoming flesh), the main reason Paul includes this is because of its practical implications. He wants the Philippians to learn humility from the best…Jesus is the best example he could find. He is the ultimate example of what it means to put others before yourself. Jesus put aside his divinity to be human and serve us – serve us right up to his action on the cross.
So here’s the question for us: will we do the same? Will we be people of humility? Will be the kind of people who can be confident in who God’s created us to be, while at the same time, in humility, put others first? Knowing that when we do this, there is a ripple effect, a lasting impact, a seed of justice and mercy that is planted by every act of humility we do. Here’s the main thing: will we choose to ‘be like Jesus’?
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
small(er) group questions:
What is it about balancing confidence & humility that is so difficult? Is it easier to be confident or is it easier to be humble? Why is this combination so effective in life, leadership, work, relationships, etc?
How is humility connected to the theme of community, fellowship, and partnership that is so prominent in Philippians?
Read through the 2:1-4. What are your impressions? Your thoughts?
Now read 2:5-8. What are your thoughts about Jesus, his humility, his humanness, his divinity?
Can you think of ways that, even though they start small, have potential for impact? In other words, how would you define the ripple effect of humility?
(One of the video’s we watched on Sunday can be found HERE)