Humility and Persistence

Posted on October 18, 2011 by


I just completed a wonderful little book titled Moses on Leadership – How to Become a Great leader in Forty Short Years by my friend Gene Mims. From knowing career military people Gene deduced two core virtues all great leaders have – humility and persistence. Note traits like charisma, decisiveness, boldness, brilliance and authority are not on this list. “…The greatest leaders were men of remarkable humility as well as persistence to comply with any order they received.”

HUMILITY – The humility of Moses comes to mind in Numbers 12:3, “Now Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” Moses was a remarkable leader – led the children of Israel out of slavery, into the desert, and to the promised land with strength and confidence; but, those characteristics were grounded in his Lord. He knew he was weak. He led them to the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army bearing down on him all the time humbly following the Lord. Talk about a hard place! We are drawn to truly humble people, self effacing, good listeners, quiet resolve, quick to give others credit, don’t need attention, love to make others successful. They have an unshakable core strength in Jesus Christ and truly don’t need the glory. Their deepest needs are met to overflowing by Christ. Conversely we resist showy, pretentious folks who covet attention and credit, who need to be noticed, who bask in others’ attention. In Philippians 2 Paul writes that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming a slave by nature.” The Centurion in Mathew 8 was praised by Jesus for his humble understanding of authority. He was under authority and he wielded authority. Jesus equated his humble grasp of authority with faith and said he never found faith like that in Israel. The Centurion was humble and he was a great leader.

PERSISTANCE – Military officers who succeed, who climb to the top levels of authority, all begin at lowly positions and take orders. For a long time, they obey orders from people they don’t necessarily like, who they sometimes don’t agree with. They continue and persist. They don’t make excuses. They obey in life and death situations.  We live in an age when a good excuse is just as valid as actually doing what you said you would do. Great leaders don’t make excuses. They persist. Persistence means we trust God that He will make a way, that He honors His promises, that He never lets go. Persistence means that in Him we can stand against anything. Persistence means we obey His will regardless of consequences. Persistence takes a life time.

Galatians 5 lists the fruit of the Spirit, the natural result of knowing Jesus deeply. Nine characteristics are listed and among them are gentleness and faithfulness. These are close cousins to humility and persistence. We don’t achieve them by trying to be humble or trying to be persistent. That is not how it works!! They are fruit, they come from knowing Christ deeply, deeply, deeply… the Holy Spirit  develops the qualities of our Lord in us. The world, the church and certainly this Mission need Godly men and women who are humble and persistent leaders… not showy, don’t need the glory, never make excuses, faithful to the end, love to make others successful, quiet resolve, lovers of God and people. There is but one way to get there…Jesus must grow greater and greater and we must become less and less.