Request your free, three-month trial to Tabletalk magazine. You’ll receive the print issue monthly and gain immediate digital access to decades of archives. This trial is risk-free. No credit card required.Try Tabletalk Now
Already receive Tabletalk magazine every month?
Verify your email address to gain unlimited access.
Years ago, Andrew Murray observed that humility is the seedbed in which all the other graces in the Christian life grow. And, likewise, the seedbed of pride brings forth all the vices of sin. So, it’s not an overstatement to say that if we neglect humility, we can’t progress in the Christian life. This is especially important for husbands and fathers as we fulfill our responsibilities to God, our wives, and our children (Eph. 5:25–33; Col. 3:21; 1 Peter 3:7).
When we pursue humility, we tend to skip forward to specific actions without thinking much about why we must do it. Before getting into some specifics, consider a framework for the actions.
a framework for humility
Pride is foolishness. After all, our Creator gives and sustains our lives. How arrogant it is to think that we are something apart from God when, in truth, we are nothing. Standing in the shadow of our Creator, we should be humbled to worship and to wonder with the psalmist, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:4).
What’s more, consider that our Lord Jesus Christ, for us and our salvation, humbled Himself in becoming a man (Phil. 2:6–8). What was at the root of our sin? Pride. It’s not an overstatement to say that Christ humbled Himself to rescue prideful people who did not, would not, and could not humble themselves. When we struggle with humility, let us look in the mirror and see ourselves looking back at us, and remember: Jesus humbled Himself to save us when we were up to our necks in prideful rebellion. How, then, can we persist in pride?
a framework for humble leadership
If we understand that God is our Creator, we will approach our responsibilities from the perspective of stewardship. A steward is someone who understands that he is not the owner but the caretaker. Husbands and fathers, how might your relationships change if you remembered that your wife is not ultimately yours? And your children are not ultimately yours either? God has granted husbands and dads a stewardship to lead their wives and children lovingly. We mustn’t eclipse God’s rights for worship by promoting ourselves in His place. Stewards are to be faithful and to treat their charges well (1 Cor. 4:2). Nothing is more unfaithful than stealing glory from our Master by mistreating those He cares for or trying to take His place in the lives of our families.
Jesus instructs His followers (especially those who lead) to reflect His service by serving others (Mark 10:43–45). The source of many of our sinful moments as husbands and dads is our desire to put on the crown rather than the apron of service. We want to be served rather than to serve. Can you see how this type of desire and action distorts the reflection of the gospel we are called to model as husbands and fathers? Jesus is not only the motivation for our service but also the model.
expressions of humble leadership
Humble leadership will work itself out in a variety of ways. Here are just a few to consider.
Humble leadership embraces reality. Instead of trying to live in a fantasy world where we are the heroes and the center of the universe, humble men embrace the truth that they are flawed, weak, and in need of grace. This frees us up to reflect God’s character rather than projecting our own avatar or identity.
Humble leadership is understanding. We’re commanded to know our wives and children well. This knowledge leads to understanding (Col. 3:21; 1 Peter 3:7). Humility shows itself here with loving patience. Humble leaders will seek to learn about their wives or children as they change. They’ll consider others’ interests more important than their own (Phil. 2:3).
Humble leadership confesses sin. Our default is to give voice to our inner defense attorney whenever it may appear that we’ve done something wrong. But this is the rotten fruit grown in the seedbed of pride. Instead, the humble leader can confess his sin to his wife and even to his children. Yes, this will make us appear less significant. But it will emphasize our need for grace and mercy. In our decreasing, we aim to see God increase (John 3:30).
Humble leadership submits to God’s authority. We can do this by reflecting His design for leadership. We can also do it by reading the Bible, instructing our family in the Word, and praying with and for them. In this, not only do we equip others, but we model a humble dependence on God.