Pastors Need Humility

The Humility of Christ


Like it or not, pastors are the public face of their congregations. The spotlight can have profound effects on stage, even in church leadership. How can pastors today guard themselves against drifting into pride? Even more, what does it mean to pursue humility of the mind? In this post created in cooperation with the Association of Biblical Counselors, Mike Sharrett, pastor with the Presbyterian Church of America, considers the example of Christ as our model for humility.

Mike Sharrett has been in pastoral ministry since 1982 in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He worked as a career counselor until Trinity PCA hired him on staff. After serving at Trinity PCA he planted a church in Ft. Worth, TX and then returned to Virginia to plant Redeemer PCA in Lynchburg.



As Mike shared, humility of the mind is the most important need we have for our mental health. It frames our view of others, authenticates our witness, and likens us to the model of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


When you think of humility, what comes to mind? How would you define humility? Who are some people in your life who best exemplify what it means to be humble?
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Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


How does this passage describe Christ's example of humility? What actions and beliefs illustrate His humility?
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What are some areas of your life that need greater maturity in humility? Where do you fall short compared to the Apostle Paul's description of Jesus? How does the gospel offer good news to you in your shortcomings?
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Leaders in the church often feel they need to have it all together for the sake of their people, but that simply is not true. Instead, it keeps your vision focused on yourself and restrains you from growing in humility. What tempts you to make yourself look better than you are? In what ways does such a temptation strengthen personal pride? What steps could you take towards living a more authentic and vulnerable life with those around you?
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Pride is toxic for a healthy life. Left unchecked, it threatens to ruin relationships of every kind. Even more, it hides itself well, which can make it difficult to identify, especially when you inhabit a place in the spotlight. As such, Mike focuses in on the long-term effects of a pastor who refuses to deal with pride. 



Unchecked pride can create a variety of idols, which levy long-term costs on a congregation. Leadership always results in a trickle down effect as it inevitably sows what it reaps. 

What kinds of idolatry does pride encourage in your life? Can you relate to any of those Mike listed? If so, how?
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Of those idols mentioned, Mike touched on the way pride can produce a fear of others, leading to avoiding confrontation at all costs. How does the idol of fear create weak leadership for the body of Christ? What are some responsibilities that fear inhibits in leaders? How does it offer a negative model?
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In addition, Mike noted how pride can lead to a controlling attitude. How does the idol of control cause pastors to have a negative influence on their congregations? In what ways does it fail to reflect the model of Christ?
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As Mike stated earlier, we have two options in battling the idols of pride—the law and the gospel—and only the latter creates enduring change. How does the gospel speak to the idol of fear? What about the idol of control? How does it free us from the need for approval and success?
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We need spiritual eyes to recognize pride in our lives. So long as we turn a blind eye to our own pride, we will continue to divide ourselves from God and one another. Ask God to give you the vision to see the ways in which you struggle with pride. Bring those before Him and ask Him to free you from its grip so that you might walk faithfully with Him. As you do, trust Christ to be your sufficiency rather than your composure before others. Allow Him to shape in you a greater humility of the mind.


For more insights and teaching from Mike Sharrett, check out the full course, The War with Pride


To find out more about the Association of Biblical Counselors, click here.