Leadership is an elusive characteristic. It takes many shapes, but you always know a great leader when you see one in action.

I’ve had the privilege of working with many of our nation’s best leaders, both secular and religious. And I hate to say it but I can divide them into two categories, whether religious or secular – some are humble and some are arrogant. Some leaders make it easy for you to dislike them because of their arrogance; and some leaders just have a way of making you like them because of their humility – these are what I call great leaders. Their greatness stems from their humble walk whether in business or the church.

One thing stands out with all these great leaders – they measure their success by who, not what, they leave behind. They measure their greatness not by what they achieve but what they achieve through others. Great leadership is about providing an atmosphere in which people are transformed and empowered to be leaders in their own right. In the case of pastors, they empower people to fulfill their God-given destiny.

My favorite metaphor for this kind of humble leadership is a spiritual midwife. Like a midwife helping parents give birth to their child, great leaders helps those around them to become all that God has planned for them. They provide an atmosphere in which people blossom and grow into all they can be. They measure their success by the success of others. They live to pass on to others what God has given them.

Here are my key bullet points on great leadership:

  • Great leaders are obedient to a call greater than their own lives.
  • Mission more than theology dictates their lives.
  • Great leaders lead out of intuition more than education.
  • Great leaders grow people, not churches.
  • Great leaders are passionate about a few things and flexible on most things.
  • Great leaders see some level of leadership in every person they meet and their passion is to midwife them into all they can be.

You can imagine after reading this list how humility comes into the picture. It’s not about them – it’s about God and others.

Question: How have you seen great leaders put humility into action? Share your observations in the Comments section below.