Personal humility is a godly leadership quality that reflects the proper attitude of the heart from which we may cultivate the necessary faith to understand the Lord’s direction for our lives.
The humble of heart experience faith as a guiding light along their path. By virtue of faith, the humble heart is never bound by the vagaries of indecisiveness nor is it directed by the force of prideful self-determination. It is able to be steered by the wind of the Spirit and restrained by the conscience of Christ. It turns to God for direction and returns to God for sustenance.
The heart of the humble trembles with eager expectation as it kneels before the cross of Christ. It has come to a place of limitless opportunity. A place of transformation for the soul. A place that leads from the portal of dying to self, upward to the attainment of holy vision and purpose. The cross of Christ is the guidepost of the humble heart; it points the way to the place of new life. And by this guidepost the humble of heart will know the way of the Lord.
Shame can bully a person to works requiring tremendous effort or intimidate a soul to virtual impotence.
Shame insinuates to the vulnerable soul, “Sure, Jesus died on the cross for you, but don’t you still feel unworthy?” Then pride exhorts self, “Therefore, you must rely on past accomplishments, the work you are now doing, or what you are able to accomplish in the future to feel acceptable to yourself.”
Pride encourages us to believe that personal performance can overcome unpleasant negative feelings of shame. Then, as self becomes gratified, pride is ratified and shame is covered over for a time.
-Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:4
Chronic shame is like a tree with many roots underground, but slender trunk and very few branches above the surface. Persistent pride is like a great tree with long branches reaching upward from a portly trunk, but very little root structure. The wind comes and blows mightily against the shame tree. Some dead branches are blown off, but the roots remain firmly entrenched. Then the strong wind comes and blows against the pride tree. The whole tree comes crashing down, with its shallow roots exposed for all the world to see.
Which tree is more resistant to the Spirit of God? The one that displays itself boldly to the world or the one that hides itself safely beneath the surface?
Pride and shame are like fraternal twins. Though they do not look alike, they were born one right after the other. Pride was the firstborn; then came its inevitable brother, shame. (Gen 3:1-10).
Unrepentant pride and shame are often circular allies. When shame is tired of its suffering, it turns to pride for relief. When pride’s shallowness is exposed, it often turns to shame for absolution. Thus, they perpetuate one another and cause a spiritual blindness regarding true repentance.
Fear compelled Abram to ask his wife Sarai to lie to the Egyptians by telling them she was his sister but omitting that she was Abram’s wife! She was very beautiful and he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him in order to have Sarai for themselves (Genesis 12:11-13).
Fear entices us to manipulate relationships toward dishonesty.
Still fearful, Abram even allowed Sarai to be taken as Pharaoh’s wife: So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife?…” Genesis 12:18-19)
Fear tempts us to sacrifice the integrity of our loved ones.
With great enthusiasm and zeal we may declare our allegiance to Christ.
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die for you, I will never disown you’” (Matthew 26:35).
But where there is fear; with equal fervor we may declare that we do not know Him.
He (Peter) denied it again with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:72)
What are we really committed to: emotion or truth?
Pride looks for who’s watching. Shame watches for who’s looking. But both are in bondage to the opinions of others.
It is not easy to stop being prideful and it is not easy to stop being ashamed. The way to stop being prideful is not by shame-based self condemnation, and the way to stop being ashamed is not by being prideful. Both are overcome by humility. And humility is appropriated by submission to the Spirit of God.