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All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. ~ Matthew 23:12

Most leadership courses begin with the premise that a good, credible leader is someone who is clear about their values and models the way. If you want to encourage generosity, you must do so by publicly modeling generosity. If you want people to address conflict calmly and thoughtfully, you must model this for others. Leaders have the opportunity to set the tone and parameters for what constitutes appropriate behavior, and they often do so more effectively through their actions rather than their words.

In today’s reading, Jesus critiques the wide gap that frequently exists between religious leaders’ words and deeds. He notes that while the religious leaders of his day spoke of humility, their actions, titles, dress and performative righteousness modeled both self-importance and the need to be at the center of all things. This behavior stands in stark contrast to the grounded humility Jesus hopes his followers will model: “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted,” (Matthew 23:12).

Jesus’ critique is so piercing that it feels transcendentally applicable today. If Jesus is truly our leader, then we must learn to model simplicity, humility and a desire to learn rather than be lauded as an expert. Then, we can grow in awareness that God is the main character of this story, not us.

Today’s readings 

If simplicity and humility are key values for Jesus, how might we model this in our daily life?

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