Wouldn’t it be great if every pastor could look back at his ministry and say as Paul did to the Ephesian elders, “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day . . . serving the Lord with all humility” (Acts 20:18–19).
That’s amazing—serving with all humility.
Paul commands humility of every Christian time and again: “In humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil 2:3); “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility” (Eph 4:1–2); and “Put on . . . humility” (Col 3:12). Peter commands the same: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another” (1 Pet 5:5).
With this instruction, Scripture provides excellent examples of humility. Along with Paul above, John the Baptist expressed his humility in these words about Jesus and himself: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Hebrews 13:7 commands, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Whether we remember Paul, John the Baptist, or any other humble Christian leader, we must recall how they spoke the Word of God (humbly pointing away from self to preach the Savior instead), consider the outcome of their lives (they are in heaven), and imitate their faith (we must preach with humility as well). Our role as pastors is to preach Christ with all humility in order to glorify Him and never ourselves (cf. Col 1:28–29).
It also helps to remember that any glory we receive from men is only short-lived anyway. A great quote to go with this reminder comes from Mark Garcia, commenting on 1 Corinthians 3:5–23:
In the final order of things, when grace finds full expression in glory, there will be only one Pastor, One Shepherd, not many. All who are currently ministers and elders in the church will step back from their roles and find their place within the glorified body of Christ, the church [or, as others might put it, among the saints from every age], alongside their brothers and sisters in the holy household. This ‘recessive’ reality, in which leaders of the church will ‘recede’ into the background when Jesus’s shepherding is finally and fully visible, anchors a deep-running humility on our part in all our churchly endeavors.1Mark A. Garcia, “The Church: The Well-Ordered Church in a World of Distrust,” in Theology for Ministry: How Doctrine Affects Pastoral Life and Practice (P&R, 2022), pp. 420–21.
“Leaders of the church will ‘recede’ into the background” for all to see the Chief Shepherd in His full and unveiled glory—this promise should produce in pastors “a deep-running humility . . . in all our churchly endeavors.”
One last thought—if you’re looking for some glory, remember this—the greatest glory comes from Christ alone who lived with the greatest humility of all (cf. Phil 2:1–11). If we have made Him known so that others might see His face forever, He will reward us with an unfading crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1–4). And the dear saints who see His face will be our crown as well (1 Thess 2:19–20). What more glory must we seek?
Self-glorification is sinful, temporary at best, and finds no reward at Christ’s return. The glory is all His, always was, and shall always be. So, serve Christ with all humility, and as you do, you can know that He will share His glory with us all forevermore!
|1||Mark A. Garcia, “The Church: The Well-Ordered Church in a World of Distrust,” in Theology for Ministry: How Doctrine Affects Pastoral Life and Practice (P&R, 2022), pp. 420–21.|