You've heard these phrases. Maybe you've said them:
- It's not me—it's all God.
- I'm nothing. Any talent I have comes right from God.
- Oh thank you, but to God be all the glory!
They sound good, humble, even biblical. But are they?
And why do Christian women, in particular, tend to dismiss commendation and demean their own competence? Why can't we simply accept a good compliment, let alone praise, for leadership? There has to be useful, liberating ground between “It's all God” and “It's all me,” but we're not sure how to sink our roots there. There are three main reasons women struggle with this:
We think (false) humility is biblical.
Scripture warns us against pride and self-determination. When Jesus says that without being attached to the vine (him) we can do nothing, he means nothing. The word is an absolute negative.
We know that every breath comes from God. We’re fully aware that “In him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). On a basic level, indeed, we can do nothing apart from God. But does he leave us utterly helpless on a daily basis? Or does he equip us to move and do and minister out of who we are with the talents he has granted us?
In Matthew 25, servants are given talents that they’re instructed to multiply. What they receive they must invest, grow, and strengthen. When accountability time comes, God says to the first two, “Well done! You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”
We can imagine what our response might be: “Aw shucks, God, it was all yours anyway. I didn't do anything at all.” But this isn’t how the servants responded. While we don’t know their exact words, we know they must have answered with a willingness to step into more responsibility and a confidence that they could.
On the other hand, the one who does not multiply his gifts loses them.
How often do we women act like the third servant? We hide what we've been given. We shroud it in false humility, and we protest that we've done nothing. In the end, people around us believe what we've said, and looking for real leaders, they turn elsewhere. After all, if we've truly done nothing, why would anyone offer us more leadership?
Jesus instructs, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The motivation is glory to God—but the operation is fearless light shining.