Over the last couple of months our Men's Group has been talking about the posture of the heart God desires in Godly men. I don't think what we've seen is limited to men alone, and I wanted to share it with you.
In a nutshell I believe we've seen that God requires His people to walk in a mixture of humility and love and service, but also in confidence and boldness and authority. In the world's economy those things are contradictory and even Jekyll and Hyde "ish"—but in God's kingdom the two are mutually dependent on the other, and essential. It has been fascinating to see how these both work together.
We looked first at Moses, a man the Bible calls the meekest of men. And yet God called him to a place of tremendous boldness (who else, but Moses, would have been most aware of what he would face in facing Pharaoh . . . of Pharaoh's power, his army, his magicians' dark power?). Each time Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3 and 4) brought up to God a weakness of his (of Moses') God didn't deny that weakness or boost Moses' self-esteem, but rather God met Moses' weakness with a promise of God's presence and provision and leading. It was at the end when Moses kept trying to get out of it and focus on his own weaknesses that God finally got angry at Moses. It is as if in His anger God has said, "Moses, you are meek, and you have weakness, but I have met each moment of such with a promise, and you are, in a nutshell, saying that I am not enough."
It is important that we see that God never tried to boost Moses' self-esteem, or tell him he was the man with the plan and skill. If Moses thought he was Mr. Right for the job he would have failed, but in his weakness God could offer him His strength and presence, and in reliance on that and not himself, Moses could walk in tremendous confidence and boldness before Pharaoh, ocean obstacles, and grumbling Israelites.
Beyond Moses we've looked at New Testament passages that call us to humble ourselves, and they come with the promise that God will lift us up. When God lifts us up we can stand in tremendous confidence and boldness when we are standing in what He has called us to do or be, whether it is to speak His words or to confront the hosts of darkness—but He won't lift us up until we humble ourselves. He actually promises to resist/oppose the proud. So . . . to be proud in our own strength causes God to work against us, which should scare us a lot; but to be humble about ourselves causes God to lift us up, which gives us every reason for confidence!
We then looked at David who was tremendously humble and broken before God (see Psalm 51), and yet bold and unapologetic toward man (see 2 Samuel 6:16–23 when his wife mocks him for worshipping God exuberantly). God gives David the highest honor known to man, to call David a man after God's own heart. And we see in David a man humble before God, dependent upon God, deeply aware of his own sin and failings—and a man who, when standing in the place God called Him to stand, was bold, confident, authoritative, and a worshipper and leader beyond measurer. Again, the "paradox" of Godly men (and women): humility in evaluating self and seeing self against others, but confidence in being who God called him to be, confident in God and not Himself.
We see the same thing in Paul who was deeply aware of his own sin and shortcomings, but who stood in his calling with authority, confronting enemies of the church and the hosts of darkness with boldness and confidence and God's power. We see it in Jesus who spoke not a word in His own defense, but spoke with authority and stood with confidence against the enemies of His Father's message and against the forces of darkness.
Perhaps one of the clearest examples of this "paradox" is seen in the Centurion (Matthew 8:5–10) about whom God paid another highest of all compliments. Of him Jesus said he'd seen no faith to match his in all of Israel (and the Centurion was a Roman!). When the Centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant and Jesus said He'd come to the his house to do so the Centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it."
We see here tremendous humility in an obvious way (I am not worthy), and also in a way we may first miss. What is the key to authority the Centurion reveals? It is that to be a man in authority, we must be a man under authority. For example, I could not give you a speeding ticket on my own, but if I was submitted to the government as a police officer (one under authority) I would have the delegated authority of that position. Leaders in the military or workplace are similar. They have the authority they are given by the one they are, themselves, under. So, again, here is that amazing "paradox" at work (and essential) in God's Kingdom: when we humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God's authority, we then walk in God's authority as God's servants and called ones. First comes the humility that recognizes our brokeness and need of God and recognizes God's Lordship and worthiness of our surrender, and from that comes the calling to walk as men (and women) called of God in the positions He calls us to—leaders, those called to speak His truths and proclaim Him, confronters of the demonic, etc.We could go on and on with more examples—what about Gideon who said he was the least when called by God and to whom God didn't deny that, but rather promised His presence and then called Gideon to stand, 300 against over 100,000.
But in the end, to wrap it up, I see that this paradox is exactly the call to walk in faith that is on our lives as Christians. What is faith? It is the recognition of our weakness and need and inability to do it on our own (be it salvation, or daily strength). That recognition makes us humble and gentle towards others in any sense in which we must deal with them as servants, neighbors, etc. But then, in faith, we place our trust and confidence in God—God!—God who breathes out stars!—and in that trust we find tremendous confidence and authority and boldness in any and every area He has called us, be it speaking His truth and words, standing on His promises, or confronting darkness, because it is not our "strength" we stand in or our "authority" we confront in, but rather in the strength and authority of the one we have ourselves submitted to.