Humility is the Foundation of Leadership – Knowing Our Identity is Crucial

Humility in Leadership

Humility is freedom from pride and arrogance which makes it the perfect foundation of leadership. Knowing our identity is a crucial part of walking in humility in our role as leaders.

As I read and gleaned from other’s perspectives in leading with humility, I found the following four premises:

Premise #1 Self-Awareness

Premise #2 Awareness of Others – Service and Legacy

Premise #3 Christ-Awareness

Premise #4 Self-Awareness Leads to Christ-Awareness

More Human than Otherwise
More Human than Otherwise

Premise #1 Self-Awareness

In More Human than Otherwise – Living and Leading with Humility, David Berry asks the question, “What are the characteristics of a leader you would willingly follow?”

Berry states that one-third of the respondents would follow a competent leader while two-thirds would follow a leader based on connection. “Competence matters, but anyone worthy of being ‘willingly followed’ must demonstrate connective qualities in greater” measure.

“A connective approach to leadership, starts with humility. Human-centered leadership is leadership that engages the heart and mind. Connection is knowing how to be in relationship with others, a focus on the elements of trust that give people the confidence to follow you.”

“Human-Centered Leadership:

  1. The act of helping people make necessary and meaningful change.
  2. The creation of an environment in which people can successfully employ their values, gifts and strengths in support of a cause larger than themselves.
  3. A commitment to humility as a catalyst for the integration of competence and connection, head and heart.
  4. A dedication to the truth that we are all more human than otherwise.”

Berry’s premise for humility is self-awareness through self-revelation, revelation through trusted others, and revelation via humiliation because of one’s blind spots. Though Berry has some good points, I found his overall approach to humility to be lacking.

I summarize his premise as – Me, Myself and I

  • Start with self
  • Increase self-awareness through trusted others – add a mentor, therapist, coach or advisor
  • Increase self-awareness through personal learning by learning in community
  • End with a better self – keep repeating the above steps and you will maintain personal growth
Position Power Humility
Position Power Humility

Premise #2 Awareness of Others – Service and Legacy

In Position Power and Humility – The Greatest Force on Earth, Dr. Sheila Murray Bethel encourages us to focus on others through our actions:

  • Move from me to we
  • Move from competition to cooperation
  • Move from independence to interdependence
  • Move from survival of the fittest to survival of the wisest through reason, understanding, participation, and strategic alliances

“Humility is knowing who and what you are. Humility is being yourself.”

Bethel emphasizes, “Leadership is our ability to affect others to take action, to think new thoughts, and to build a shared sense of purpose. Leadership is about them – whether customers, stockholders, clients or team members. Leaders serve. Leaders focus on making a difference and leaving a legacy. The wisest leaders develop successors through collaboration and mentoring.”

I summarize her premise as – Me, Thee, and We

  • Know yourself
  • Serve others
  • Leave a legacy through collaboration and mentorship

Premise #3 Christ-Awareness

In Humility – The Beauty of Holiness, Andrew Murray pronounces, “Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man by His life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.”

“In the life of Jesus as He lived and communicated to us, humility is the very essence of holiness, the fullness that is in Christ. It is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God. Where God is, self is nothing. Humility produces adoration and praise in the context of God’s wondrous redeeming love.”

“It is [us] dwelling in the full light of God’s holy redeeming love, in the experience of the full indwelling of divine love, which comes through Christ and the Holy Spirit, who can be humble. Not to be occupied with sin, but to be occupied with God, brings deliverance from self.”

“How can I die to self? In Christ, you are dead to sin. The life in you has gone through the process of death and resurrection. The full manifestation of the power of this death in your character and conduct depends on how fully the Holy Spirit gives the power of the death of Christ…humble yourself. This is your one duty.”

“The command is clear: Humble yourself. That does not mean it is your work to conquer and cast out the pride of your nature, and form within yourself the lowliness of the holy Jesus. No, this is God’s work.”

“Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is the root of every good quality. Likewise, pride, or the loss of humility, is the root of every sin and evil.”

“We had no idea to what extent pride and self were still secretly working within us, and how only God, by His entering in and His mighty power, could cast them out.”

“We didn’t understand how nothing but the new and divine nature, completely taking the place of the old self, could make us really humble. We didn’t know that absolute humility must be the origin of every prayer and every approach to God as well as of ever dealing with man.”

I summarize his premise as – Christ Alone

  • Death to self – resting in Jesus death, resurrection, eternal life
  • Pride is the root of every sin and evil; the loss of humility
  • Christ is the embodiment of humility and holiness
  • Humility is abiding in Christ’s love
  • Humility is pure dependence on God – as a branch is dependent on a tree trunk or vine for life
Humble Roots
Humble Roots

Premise #4 Self-Awareness Leads to Christ-Awareness

In Humble Roots – How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, Hannah Anderson announces, “Humility is accurately understanding ourselves and our place in the world. Humility is knowing where we came from and who our people are. Humility is understanding that without God, we are nothing.”

“Jesus frees us by calling us to rely less on ourselves and more on Him. He frees us by calling us to humility.”

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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 NASB

“When Jesus calls us to take His yoke, when He invites us to find rest through submission, He is not satisfying some warped need for power. He is calling us to safety. The safety that comes from belonging to Him. The safety that comes from being tamed. You are safe in the One who is truth Himself.”

“It is understandable that we fear the yoke. We fear the loss of control. We fear surrender. But we must also understand that without the protection of a good master, we are not safe from the manipulation of other masters, from the expectations of society or from ourselves.”

“In a sense, humility follows the classic writing adage: ‘Show, don’t tell.’ In order for a story to be believable, authors use actions and dialogue to show a character’s nature instead of simply telling you about him.”

“So when Jesus calls us to learn of His own humility, He’s not calling us to adopt humble posturing or master a new skill. He intends to fundamentally change us. He intends to strip us of the pride that keeps us from experiencing rest. He intends to get to the root of the problem so that humility becomes natural to us.”

“And suddenly we begin to understand what’s at stake in our fight against pride. Remember that pride both overestimates our abilities and underestimates God. What’s at stake is our own sense of identity. In John 15, Jesus tell His disciples that in order to bear fruit, they must ‘abide in Him.’”

“I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser…dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.”

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.” ~John 15:1, 4-5 AMPC

“Here is the offense: ‘Apart from Me, you can do nothing.’ Apart from Jesus, the fruit we bear will be unfit for anything. Apart from Jesus, we will wither up and die.”

“The problem isn’t that we can’t see the symptoms or even that we don’t know what’s causing our lack of peace. The problem is our unwillingness to accept the solution. The problem is our obsession with ourselves, with our need to fix things, our need to make ourselves better, our need to be approved by God and others, our need to ‘count for something.’”

“We must be grafted onto the One who is humility Himself. We can no longer simply be content to attempt to imitate Him; we must become part of Him in order to reflect Him. We learn by encountering Jesus Himself. Through His humanity, we learn what ours is supposed to be. Through His deity, He enables us to be what we are supposed to be. And when we are, when we exist as God has intended us to exist, we will find rest.”

“It is through worship, through recognizing His rightful place, that we are finally humbled.”

“When we are consumed with God’s glory, we forget to worry about our own. When our eyes are fixed on Him as the source of all goodness and truth and beauty, we accept that we are not. When we are enamored by His worth and majesty, we can stop being so enamored with ourselves.”

“And fascinatingly, when we seek God’s glory, we’ll be able to appreciate it in the people around us. Instead of seeing them as threats to our own glory, we will see them as beautiful reflections of His.”

I summarize her premise – Self-Awareness Leads to Christ-Awareness

  • Apart from Jesus Christ, we are nothing
  • Come and learn from Christ Jesus
  • Exchange our heavy burden for Christ’s easy and light burden
  • Exchange our pride and offense for humility, love, safety and rest
  • Exchange our exacting taskmaster for a kind and gentle master, vinedresser, teacher
  • Flourish and bear abundant fruit by abiding, dwelling, and resting in Christ


Intentional Reflections – Strength with Dignity

Intentional Love the Greatest Gift of All – Strength with Dignity


Amplified Bible, Classis Edition (AMPC) Copyright 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation.

Anderson, Hannah. Humble Roots – How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul. Narrated by Carla Mercer-Meyer. 5 hr 40 min

Bethel, Dr. Sheila Murray. Position Power and Humility – The Greatest Force on Earth – The 30-Minute ‘New Breed of Leader’ Success Series. 32 min

Berry, David. More Human than Otherwise – Living and Leading with Humility. Narrated by David Berry. 4 hr 37 min

Murray, Andrew. Humility – the Beauty of Holiness. Narrated by Robert Grothe. 2 hr 11 min

New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995), copyright 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from

Bible Gateway Blogger Grid Member #bgbg2 #BibleGateway

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14 thoughts on “Humility is the Foundation of Leadership – Knowing Our Identity is Crucial”

  1. There is such a big difference between “Me First” and “God First.” Though it might sound counterintuitive to surrender, give up our rights, etc, to God, but often we don’t realize how much freedom we find when we give our lives to Him. Humility really is a mark of a good leader. That we can clearly see in Jesus. Blessings to you, Lisa!

    1. Surrender to God does bring us great freedom, Gayl, though it seems counterintuitive! Jesus is our ultimate example for living!

    1. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, Deborah, but I so appreciated these heart lessons from others as they help me in the journey of learning humility from Jesus Himself. He is our Master Teacher!

  2. I think you are spot on here, Lisa. I read Richard Foster’s latest book, “Learning Humility”, recently and it reminded me once again what I know but find hard to practice: be humble! It is indeed the best foundation for Christlike leadership.

    1. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, Lisa, but I’m so thankful for these heart lessons from others as they help me on my journey of learning humility from our Master Teacher, Jesus.

    1. So true, Natalie! Understanding His righteousness in deeper measure releases us from our self-righteousness because we realize we bring nothing to the table, but our willingness to surrender to His love.

  3. I appreciate these thoughts on humility. I was just this week struggling with pride and am submitting myself to our Lord. I’d forgotten humility. Thank you for this reminder.

  4. Excellent post, Lisa. I particularly like that self-awareness leads to Christ awareness. Humility, at its root, should be realizing who we are in relation to who we are in Christ–nothing without Him.

  5. Lisa, I really appreciate your studies in humility. This series is thought inducing and informative. Thanks for helping me to stop, think and assess thus leading me to reset where needed. Blessings.
    Thank you for sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month.

    1. Assessing for a reset is a great way to articulate what God is doing through the study of humility, Paula. I’m so glad you are on this journey with me.

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