How Often do Leaders Say They are Sorry or Wrong?

I have often wondered about humility. It is a wonderful word that God uses to describe the kind of heart leaders should have as they lead people:

James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Leadership in any capacity must cultivate humility in order to make a good leader.

The difference between a good leader and a great leader is humility. ~Jim Collins

Here is a quote on humility I love:

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. ~Thomas Merton

I’m sure I could go on all day making references to how humility makes a person stand out from the crowd. The problem, of course, is that humility is not easy to come by in any of our lives. About the time we feel we are moving closer to achieving a level of humility, then something happens and we present ourselves as someone of importance or someone of knowledge. It always happens when we are trying to impress someone or a group.

Humility is one of those characteristics of Christianity that looks to serve others first before considering yourself:

Philippians 2 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Yet, in all of this talk about humility, we don’t see many leaders displaying humility when faced with wrongdoing. Many Christian leaders have been caught in 2020 with the proverbial ‘hand in the cookie jar’ and no apologies are ever given. I suppose if a leader is accused of wrongdoing, an apology would be considered an act of confession.

Yet, time and time again, there are resignations of pastors with no admission of any wrongdoing whatsoever. I remember several national Christian teachers whose teachings were called into question and were corrected, but nothing was ever said through an apology or an acknowledgement of error.

This brings me back to humility. Even though humility is preached as a desirable characteristic in Christian circles, we rarely see it displayed in leaders who make mistakes. Everyone knows there is no perfect theology, so you have to wonder how many mistakes are made in the career of a preacher, but never acknowledged. I know why I don’t. I don’t want to be known for any mistakes because mistakes in preaching about God can be disastrous for a ministry leader. Who wants to be wrong on things? Making a mistake means you might not be trusted as someone who knows more about God than the average pew sitter. In other words, you are the expert, and experts don’t make mistakes, right?

That brings me back to humility. I believe everyone makes mistakes in their preaching. I heard one today in church. The preacher made a hermeneutical mistake in how he interpreted a Verse. Now, does that make him bad or incompetent? No, he made a mistake, period. When and if it gets drawn to his attention, it will be interesting to see if he corrects himself in public the next time he preaches. That brings up another set of issues where most people are too kind to correct a leader. Humility tells us that we are to serve each other in the church, and that means mistakes are addressed honestly without any loss of respect or embarrassment.

As a leader, telling others you were wrong should have a softening effect on people, and rather than rejecting you, they should be more inclined to honor you because of your humility.

Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler