1 Peter 5:5-7
5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Yesterday I mentioned that “a good leader is a good follower.” Peter continues here in his exhortation of us in how we behave as followers of Christ. Just before this, he was talking about elders and leaders not looking at their position as a method of gain, but rather as a position of service. Here, he is talking about the other side. In relation to the military once again, I saw many people (including myself) who were striving for the next rank. The military has certain criteria you must meet before achieving the net rank in line. Usually, we just wanted better pay and more authority. Other people, however, weren’t very concerned about their rank. They got it whenever it was time and while they kept track of their progress, they didn’t let it bother them. It is this second type of person that Peter is talking about in today’s passage.
Peter is telling those who are not elders to not worry about their ranking. In one of His parables, Jesus explained that, “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” And as we read the other day about not being a stumbling block, Jesus also said, “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, as Peter is saying here, we needn’t worry ourselves with our ranking, for we will be lifted up to where God wants us to be when He wants us to be there.
In our competitive world, we are constantly striving to be “the best” at something. First in line, quickest to finish, highest grade, biggest salary, most famous name, #1 Dad…the list goes on but we constantly forget that we have it all backwards. Throughout the scriptures we hear about our inheritance from God. Generally we look at it from a worldly view and think, “I’m going to get a big house full of treasure when I get to heaven,” but we are missing the point! He tells us this so that we don’t worry ourselves with these things here on earth. It’s not about what we get, who we beat, or how much better we are than someone else. These are all things that become idols and distract us from God’s Will in our lives. This is why He is opposed to the proud, because pride just pulls us out of our relationship with God and into a more intimate relationship with things that do not matter.
To look at this from a ministry standpoint, I first don’t want to discourage anyone from “looking up to” an individual such as one of your elders or pastors. Rather, I want to point out that we should not be so eager to jump in a place of spiritual authority. Much like I discussed in my post about calling ourselves Christians, it isn’t for us to name ourselves something, rather to wait for it to happen. It is when we are ready to be there that God will appoint us and make the way for it to occur. We look at spiritual leaders with awe because we want to be like them, however it is not their title or position that makes them who they are; they were who they were before they were in the position because God put them there when they were ready.
We need to humble our pride and not compete for position, but rather open our minds and hearts to the teachings of God so we can be prepared for the position He has set aside for us when the time comes for us to take it. I used to think that I needed to be in a position of leadership in order to better enhance my leadership skills. Yet, I was unworthy of any leadership position because I first needed to be a leader before being placed in a position of leadership.
Are you humbled enough to be exalted?