Proud people are often insecure people. Because of their personal insecurities, they need to be right, control others, get their way, have the approval of others, and have a need to prove something to the world and those around them. Those who have personal security, on the other hand, know who they are and have nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and nothing to hide. They can be humble!
Jesus illustrates this in John 13 when on the eve of His death He washes the feet of His disciples. "The evening meal was in progress and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 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 13:2-5).
What Jesus did here was astonishing to His disciples. In fact, when Jesus got to Peter, he balked and told Jesus there was no way He could wash His feet. This job was for servants, not men of stature and dignity. Further, Jesus was the master, and masters didn't serve their disciples; it was the other way around. Jesus did what many leaders today will not or cannot do. He served His disciples and demonstrated that service with this humble act.
What struck me recently, however, are these words that precede his foot washing. "Jesus knew that the father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist."
These are not insignificant words! Jesus knew who He was in relation to His father. He was personally secure, even on the eve of His death. He knew who He was, and He knew who His father was and therefore was not at all embarrassed to wash His disciple's feet, although they were embarrassed that He would do so.
Here is the truth. The more secure we are in ourselves, the less we must prove ourselves to others. The more secure we are in our Heavenly Father, the more we can serve others humbly rather than live with pride. At its root, pride comes from personal insecurities and our need to prove something. Humility comes from personal security and the lack of a need to prove anything to anyone. Security removes our need to position ourselves, prove ourselves or lift ourselves up. Security frees us to serve as Jesus served us and serves us still.
In leadership, humility is a key trait for lasting influence. To lead humbly, we need to understand that our leadership is a stewardship and not a right. The more secure I am in who God made me to be and who my Father in heaven is, the better I can lead with humility rather than pride.