Too often I'm like John's disciples and not enough like John.
John's disciples were fretting. The crowds that once flocked to John were now making a beeline for Jesus."And they came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness--look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him" (John 3:26 ESV).
John was not perturbed. He answered,"A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven" (John 3:27 ESV). John understood God's providence. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines God's providence as "His completely holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing every creature and every action."
That understanding enabled John to operate with humble boldness. God is in control -- be humble! At the same time, you are here by Divine appointment -- be bold.
I see John's humble boldness as I read the gospel accounts. He boldly tagged the Pharisees and Sadducees for what they were, "You brood of vipers!" (Matthew 3:7 ESV). And he humbly stood by as his "popularity" declined,"He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30 ESV). John knew his ministry was never about himself in the first place.
Last night, I stood before a large group of Brazilian leaders to talk with them about leading in a changing culture. As I waited to speak, I asked myself: "What am I doing here? I'm an English-speaking American guy talking to a group of Portuguese-speaking Brazilian pastors!" The dark cloud of uncertainty began to descend -- until I preached to myself the message I was going to preach to them. It was the message of Humble Boldness. "Tommy, you are here in God's plan, with God's gifts and power, to further God's work. Don't play small. Be humble, but be bold."
Humble Boldness. I think it was a good message for them. I know it was a great message for me.