On Saturday, March 23, 2013, Ron Baker, a redshirt freshmen led the Wichita State Shockers to upset the No. 1 ranking Gonzaga Bulldogs in the basketball tournament called March Madness. Baker led his small high school to a state championship and came to play for Wichita State. In the matchup against highly favored Gonzaga, Baker scored 16 points, many of them key three pointers down the stretch. Following the huge victory, Baker was asked the typical questions such as, “How big of a win was this?” and “How does it feel?” Baker gave classic short answers, and then the CBS reporter said, “Come on, Ron, you should be more excited,” to which he retorted “I’m just an humble guy.”

I love that: “I’m just an humble guy.” I think we need more in youth ministry (including myself) such as Ron Baker, someone who made huge shots on national TV, but did not need or want any more spotlight on himself. Ron Baker was about the team, not himself.

Pride (and its opposite, humility) are mentioned hundreds of times in Scripture. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 echoes the same idea, but goes on in 1 Peter 5:6 to tell us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” We are to humble ourselves and not expect God to do the work (although He is good at humbling people).

How does humility look for youth workers?

Humility is having a realistic appraisal of our humanity. That means we know who we are and who we are not. We become comfortable in our own skin. We know what we are skilled at and what our deficiencies are and seek to walk in God’s grace.

Humility is not judging others’ journeys. Jesus spoke about the boomerang effect of casting judgment on other people’s lives, such as someone’s values, faith and financial status or career (Matthew 7:1-5).

Humility is celebrating others’ victories and grieving when they fail. When youth workers, parents or teenagers have successes, we choose to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Likewise, we hurt for those who hurt (Romans 12).

Humility seeks to stop being afraid of what other’s think. Our identity ultimately comes from Jesus, not people-pleasing or people-avoiding.

Humility doesn’t need to be in the limelight frequently. It is a bit concerning how much of youth ministry (and other kinds of ministry) can lead to inflated egos and playing the numbers game with big personalities. The truly humble folks don’t always have to be on stage.

Humility is about being self-aware and not lying to ourselves. In my doctorate program, one day the professor asked a provocative question: “Why did some of you go into vocational ministry?” Once people moved past the Christian jargon of calling or, “I sensed a leading from God,” our class started to get real. When the tears were dried from many people’s faces, what came out was clear: Many went into ministry to rescue people from messing up or to be validated by people. Humility is about acknowledging our hurts, emotions and inner thoughts and looking beneath the surface.

Humility is learning how to trust God in the process and quit working so hard for God. We need to rest in God’s power, not our own. We need not worry about others’ approval, for we have Christ’s approval.

I once heard someone jokingly say, “I am humble and proud of it!” Humility never has been easy for me. In fact, it seems rather elusive. I never have been able to say, “I am just an humble guy,” knowing all too well “pride goes before a fall.” I would like to take steps today in the pursuit of humility. How about you?
How would your life look if humility took charge?

See more at YouthMinCoaches.com; author of the best-selling Studies on the Go: Proverbs and Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (YS/Zondervan).

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About The Author

Dr. David Olshine is the director and professor of Youth Ministry, Family and Culture at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina. He's the author of Studies on the Go: James, 1-2 Peter and 1-3 John (Zondervan/Youth Specialties) and the founder of Youth Ministry Coaches.

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