Working definition of this leadership concept:
To be meek is to not be overly impressed by a sense of one’s own importance. It is to be considerate, humble and gentle. It is not to commend one’s self, boast or compare.
To be a leader is NOT to be more important than others, importance is not a matter of comparison. Each person is of such value to God that He sent his only Son to earth so that whoever trusts in Him would have eternal life. Christian leaders are to be meek – never overly impressed with themselves.
 Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 861). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Benefits for leaders who are meek:
1. Meekness helps the leader keep expectations of themself as a leader in line. What does anyone have except what they have received? (1 Corinthians 4:7) Leadership is in part a spiritual gift. A leader is not to take credit for what they have received as a gift, but to steward it to serve God.
2. Meekness helps leaders keep the perspective that everything does not depend on them. Leaders are not God. They benefit from keeping their cosmic importance in perspective. This can help leaders recognize that there are other people that are able and willing to contribute making it easier to delegate and collaborate. Keeping one’s importance in perspective also helps leaders take time to rest and relax.
Benefits for the community where leaders are meek:
1. Leaders who are meek help cultivate a humble, considerate and gentle culture where people can be honest about their abilities and limitations.
2. Meekness is a way of avoiding the temptation to compare and find a “winner” and a loser (2 Corinthians 10:12). We are all servants, serving with what we’ve been given in the role God has given us with the grace He has given us. (Romans 12:3-8)
Biblical inspiration and support:
Sometimes contrast helps us understand a concept. So, the concept I offer in contrast to meekness is boasting. If meekness is not being overly impressed with your own importance, boasting is being overly impressed with your importance and seeking others would be impressed as well. Paul addresses this human desire by warning that we should think of ourselves with “sober judgment” and goes on to explain we are all a part of one body, a body that needs each member (See 1 Corinthians 12).
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3–8, ESV)
And addressing boasting directly Paul teaches:
“17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:17–18, ESV)
Boasting’s close cousin is comparison. Meekness is a way of avoiding the temptation to compare and find a “winner” and a “loser”. We are all servants, serving with what we’ve been given in the role God has given us with the grace He has given us. (Romans 12:3-8).
This verse, preceding the passage above, speaks of the foolishness of comparison:
"12 Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12, ESV)
“...They are without understanding.” does not seem like a compliment. I think Paul is saying it is foolish to compare with each other. What is the antidote to boasting and comparing? I submit to you that it is putting on meekness.
“12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12–13, ESV)
Paul chose some powerful and somewhat similar words to link together here: compassion, kindness, humility, patience and… meekness. This is how God’s chosen, holy and loved people are to be toward one another. We are to be considerate and meek.
Meekness is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23 (translated below as gentleness).
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22–26, ESV, emphasis mine)
It seems we do not just have meekness, it is something the Holy Spirit produces in us. As we abide in Christ like branches in a vine (John 15), the Spirit produces meekness in us. And in this passage again we see meekness related to not becoming conceited (Galatians 5:26)– not thinking too highly of yourself or of your importance.
In the first church my husband and I attended together after being married, we had a pastor with a PhD who was nearing retirement. He was a powerful orator and well respected. I remember driving in to the church parking lot early one frigid Sunday morning and seeing him in his suit shoveling the walk in the dark, a job that was assigned to someone else but at this moment was not completed and needed to be done. It made an impression on me. Another time I walked by the chapel and saw him on his hands and knees placing hymnbooks back in the small hymnbook shelf under each seat. He did not say anything about it, or make a big deal about it, he just humbly did what needed to be done. Those sightings made a big impression on me. That pastor did not have an inflated view of his importance. He was humble and willing to serve however was needed in the situation. I took inspiration from him and hope to serve in the same way, in meekness.
Questioning Your Importance:
Truth #1: You matter so much to God that he sent His Son Jesus that you could know Him and have eternal life (John 3:16). You are pricelessly important to God.
Truth #2: If you feel like you have the world on your shoulders, you are wrong. The world is resting on God’s shoulders.
Years ago, while in a counseling session I was telling the counselor all the reasons why I was exhausted and overwhelmed. He reached in a drawer and pulled out a foam ball model of the world and tossed it to me. He told me to put it on my shoulder. I understood exactly what he meant. I had gotten the wrong idea of my importance. I felt like everything depending on me, like all my loved ones’ happinesses depended on me… and well, they don’t. I am not God.
A parting word on love:
Meek leaders are not overly impressed with their own importance.
Comment: How have you seen leaders exhibit meekness as described in this post?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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