by John McGee
How would you like to be a well-dressed pastor? I’m not talking about keeping up with hipsters and wearing glasses or jeans. I’m talking about putting on something that’s guaranteed to fit well and look great on you. This isn’t a new trend in fashion, in fact it’s about 2,000 years old. It’s the fashion advice that Paul gives in Colossians 3:12 when he commands us to cloth ourselves in – humility.
When you dress sharp, people notice, and some will even be drawn to you. When a pastor clothes himself in humility, he always looks good. His congregation and staff notice, and they are drawn to him.
There are some telltale signs that a pastor has chosen to cloth himself in humility. For example:
He admits weaknesses and failures.I was recently with a prominent leader and his son. The topic of parenting came up, and I began to ask the son lots of questions about what it was really like to grow up in his home. The leader could have hijacked the conversation and made himself look good, but instead the man prompted his son to not only share what he had done well as a dad but also his missteps, failures, and character flaws. When we were done I was struck by how much more I learned from his failures than his positive examples and how I actually respected this leader more, not less, because of his humility. The best clothing to put on when you’re trying to teach others is humility.
He remembers any success is God’s.Success can make humility difficult. Just ask Nebuchadnezzar who, in Daniel 4, was proud of what he had built and was then deeply humbled by God as a result. We’ve all had times when we have led well, preached a great sermon, or built something over time we’re proud of. The humble pastor can work hard and use his gifts, but he realizes as Paul did “That it is God who brings the growth.” People are drawn to excellence but repelled by pride. God opposes the proud, and so do people. God shows favor to the humble, and people tend to do the same.
He allows others to be recognized.If people think that others will take credit for their ideas or work, they tend to not do their best. Since pastors tend to be the upfront personas, it’s easy to take credit that belongs to others. As Proverbs 27:2 says, it’s for others to praise you. Humility celebrates the ideas and accomplishments of others rather than being threatened by them.
He looks for opportunities to serve.Humility looks like finding ways to help people, rather than always trying to get them to help you. Pastors are generally good at calling others to get behind their ideas and visions. When was the last time you asked your staff or people in your congregation what you could do for them? It’s interesting that one of Jesus’s last acts was not to give speeches to the multitudes; rather it was to pick up a towel. Since pastors are leaders they have the unique opportunity to model humility by serving. In many ways to dress like Jesus is to clothe yourself in a towel – these are the clothes of a humble servant. Just as people take their fashion cues from others, they will also notice and repeat humble acts of service they see their leaders perform.
Tomorrow you’ll wake up, get dressed, and then head out to lead your congregation or interact with your staff. As you’re deciding what to wear remember that arrogance doesn’t fit anyone, but humility looks good on everyone. Clothe yourself in humility. Everyone loves a sharp-dressed pastor!