Why is humility is so hard? Is it our culture which engrains in us the notion that we must be brash in order to be bold? Is it the idea that only the fittest survive? Whatever the cause, there is a severe dearth of humility both in the world as well as in Christianity.
If, upon meeting you, my first and predominant response is to stretch you out on the spiritual exam table, strap you down and find whatever your deep hidden problems are; am I really manifesting love in humility or feeding my inner desire to show you how great I am? If all I am interested in is fixing you , it doesn't take long for you grow weary of me and run to someone else.
Just as Jesus said it would be nearly impossible for a rich person to be saved, so it is with those who devote years upon years to secular study. In the same way a person with much money feels they have no need for a Savior because they feel they can buy their way to heaven; so the person who has a mind full of secular knowledge tends to believe they are smarter than God and have no need to humble themselves before Him.
When we look at the life of the apostle Paul, it is very clear that he had much unlearning and huge changes to make in his attitude and thinking to ever accept the Lord and then serve him. Paul tells us in Philippians 3:4-6 about his Jewish credentials:
4though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh: if any other man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more:
5circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.
When these credentials are coupled with Paul being a Roman citizen; he was obviously on the fast track to high and mighty positions of power either religiously or secularly. Paul did not need a Savior for he was his own. God knew that no man could persuade Paul so He did it Himself as recorded various places in the Book of Acts.
Of all the things Paul had to learn, far and away the most difficult was humility. When Paul accepted Christ all his years of education and training didn't suddenly melt in a pool of humility. To the contrary, one of the very first things God demanded Paul do was to spend an extended period of time in the wilderness all alone. There were many things Paul had to come to grips with in his life; his pride, arrogance and the realization he had personally killed many Christians.
Before Paul could be entrusted with the ministry to the Gentiles, he had to spend years in his hometown unlearning much of what he had spent his life learning and being instructed by his elders on his new faith. Paul didn't go from arresting and killing Christians one day to boldly preaching the Gospel the next. It took YEARS of preparation before he was ready to embark on the journeys that occupy much of the Book of Acts.
It took Moses 40 years of preparation before he was ready to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt. It took years for his stubborn pride to be broken so he would allow God to lead him. It took years tending the flocks before he was ready to lead God's people and to FOLLOW God.
The greatest leader is the greatest FOLLOWER. Before Peter, John and the others mentioned so prominently in Acts were able to lead, they had to spend years FOLLOWING Jesus as disciples. They had to learn to FOLLOW before they could even dream of leading God's people. Learning to FOLLOW is equal to leaning humility.
Humility in service is the only way to be a true leader of God's people - whether officially as a pastor or unofficially as a lay leader. It takes great humility to honestly work with a young believer who is loaded with questions and problems. It takes great humility to manifest the boldness needed at times to show an older believer they have strayed. Without humility all situations end up being handled by the book (and not the Good Book).
If you want to genuinely be a leader of God's people in any capacity, you MUST learn what Paul learned and be able to say what he said in Philippians 3:7-9:
7Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ.
8Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ,
9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith:
"If, upon meeting you, my first and predominant response is to stretch you out on the spiritual exam table, strap you down and find whatever your deep hidden problems are; am I really manifesting love in humility or feeding my inner desire to show you how great I am?"
I have seen the sad results of that and I am certain that many others here at CB have as well. Far too often we view ourselves as "rescuers" but in reality we are merely stroking our own egos. Other times, we start out with the right motives but if we aren't careful, pride will slip in and contaminate them. We all must guard against this but I think that pastors, evangelists, teachers or any Christian leader must be even more diligent in guarding against this.