12 Signs of a Humble Leader

HumilityYesterday, I wrote about humility. Today I want to see what a humble leader really looks like.

When we talk in terms of sheer historical impact, there’s little argument that Jesus Christ was the most explosive leader of all time. There are over 2 billion professing Christians in the world today. Wether you know Him as the Son of God or just a good teacher, you can’t argue with the empirical results.

Follow along with these historically reliable accounts of His life and you’ll see the ideal of what a humble leader should look like.

1. Meekness (Not Weakness)

Jesus didn’t come to lay a heavy weight on His followers, but to relieve them.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

2. Compassion

Jesus had compassion on society’s most downtrodden and outcast individuals.

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:12,13

3. Prayerfulness

Jesus never made a decision apart from the wisdom and guidance of His Father.

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.” Luke 6:12,13

4. Patience

Jesus was not quick to anger. He patiently bore His opponents’ criticism.

“Then His disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?’ But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.’” Matthew 15:12-13

5. Kindness

Jesus was the embodiment of kindness and commanded His disciples to be the same.

“‘But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.’” Luke 6:35

6. Honesty

Even Jesus’ enemies recognized Him as one who always spoke the truth.

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?’” Matthew 22:15-17

7. Thankfulness

Jesus submitted and was always grateful to the Father.

“Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” John 6:11

8. Generosity

Jesus led by example, which made His instructions a natural outpouring of His goodness.

“‘And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’” Matthew 5:40-42

9. Devotion

Jesus was devoted to the mission His Father sent him on, even if it meant His death.

“He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’” Matthew 26:42

10. Mercy

In His mercy, Jesus held off on His judgement and extended healing.

“On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:12,13

11. Servant Leadership

In astonishing fashion, Jesus humbled himself and took the station of the lowest of the low.

“…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:4,5

12. Sacrifice

Jesus would offer His life as a sacrifice to redeem the same people who sought His death.

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:27,28

Success Leaves Clues

Great leaders learn by following in the footsteps of those who have gone before them. We have the most perfect example of life and leadership in Jesus Christ and an open invitation to follow in His footsteps. All we have to do is accept.

If you want to know more about what that looks like, email me and we’ll talk about it.

Join the conversation: What signs or traits would you add to this list?

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  • georgestull

    Loved this Kenny! …and yesterday’s post also.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you so much for reading, George!

  • http://twitter.com/BarbaraThayer1 Barbara Thayer

    I guess if I would add anything to your list it would be Agape love….an ability to look into the heart of men and women and love them anyway. That acceptance does so much to bring healing and help people come to see their sins. It changes us. I really appreciate your list Kenny. It has the marks of true leadership because it is based on the only perfect leader….Jesus Christ. Blessings!

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Great addition, Barbara. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  • http://www.youthleadersacademy.com Rachel

    I love this post! Thanks Kenny for giving me food for thought…I’d have to agree with Barbara that I would also add love, perfect love.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Great point, Rachel. I was reluctant to add love, as I wrote a lot about it in yesterday’s post: http://kennysilva.net/only-proud-people-use-humility/ . You’re right though. Love is an important sign of a humble leader. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

    Great post, Kenny. This is my first visit to your site and an enjoyable one at that.

    Is it just me, or is servant leadership experiencing a revival? I am drawn to it, but even so it seems to be a topic of increasing popularity. I think a lot of your humble traits fit well with servant leadership and will do my best to incorporate them.

    GENEROSITY particularly spoke to me.

    We are all so busy these days…what a novel concept to give to all who ask, and perhaps even doubly to those who demand it of us.

    How many people today would call Christ a softy if he was CEO of a public company? Would Buffet invest? Oh, how much we have to learn…

    Thanks again! -T

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnjebaseelan John Jebaseelan

    Humility is the step to greatness. Thanks for the article.