Humility, Brokenness, and Leadership

The relationship between humility, brokenness and leadership in the real worked often presents conflicting expectations and multiple demands for the leader.  In these situations, how do we lead Christianly, consistently and with vision and courage?  How can we lead when we feel abused, manipulated, undermined and ignored?  We even ask God, at times, why he has permitted words to be spoken or deeds to be done against us.

It is difficult for us to move from the “why” to the “what” questions.  “What do you want to teach me in this humbling moment?” we ask of the Lord.  What is the relationship between leadership…in business, education or ministry and the brokenness of spirit we often experience in these situations?

Listen to John Wesley’s covenant prayer he prayed at the beginning of each new year:


I am no longer my own, but yours.
Rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you or laid aside for you.
Exalted for you or brought low by you.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant, which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven.  Amen.


You will soon discover if you haven’t already, that God sometimes uses brokenness of spirit to get our attention, wherever we happen to be in our walk with him.  Such was the case with Job and his trials.  And it may be with you…in a local church, in graduate school, in your first job, in the home, or in retirement!

Sometimes things happen that are outside our control.  God does not cause the circumstances; however, he allows them to happen.  God can use our brokenness to humble us and draw us closer to Himself.  God’s process of helping us develop character involves our being broken before him.

In these poignant moments where life lessons regarding leading others can break through, at least five convictions can hold us steady in our leadership assignments:

1. Watch our words. Words we speak can bless or “burn” people. What comes out of our mouth reflects what is in our heart. In New Testament perspective, dialog is a sacrament. Our words are to minister grace to others (Ephesians 4:29).
Don’t whine—be grateful. Comparison is the root of inferior feelings. We can feel good about ourselves—our gifts, talents and abilities—until we compare ourselves with others. Gratitude is the “life-giving” antidote to the negative impact of comparison.
3. Seek first to understand. Understanding, not agreement, is the key to conflict management. Good and godly people can have honest and intense differences. In fact, they sometimes collide over vision and values. This is why I have come to see that theological vision (what I believe about people, what I “see” in them) must precede organizational vision.
4. Be proactive in extending forgiveness. A spirit of forgiveness transforms and empowers people. Extending people does not wait for the others person to request forgiveness. Rather, it frees us from the bondage to the other. Too often, we permit persons who have offended us to control us. Extending forgiveness has everything to do with maintaining a right relationship with a holy God!
5. Value people, not power. The evidence of leadership is seen in the lives of the followers. I often ask myself this question: are the persons with whom I work and those whom I lead stronger in their faith, more confident in themselves and more fulfilled in their lives as a result of working with me? I try to enlarge the vision of the people about the work they are doing—to see the bigger picture and discover how they, in their particular assignment,  contribute to the mission of the school, church or organization they serve.

These driving forces in a Christian leader characterize us at our best and convict us at our worst.


Life together in Christian families, local congregations, small groups, governing boards, Christian organizations, Nazarene colleges, universities, and seminaries include lessons, planned and unplanned, on brokenness, humbleness, gentleness, patience and compassion for others (Ephesians 4:2).  The parishioners, staff or faculty, or school alumni who allow themselves to go through the breaking process will emerge as leaders who can be trusted…at home or around the world.

Brokenness, humility, and leadership.  Growth producing for the leader.

LeBron Fairbanks
July 25, 2011