Pride is a notorious problem that causes great destruction. Consider James 3:13-4:10, which relates the devastation, caused by one with a prideful, self-seeking attitude. Knowing the destructive power pride possesses ought to motivate Christians to do what is necessary to eliminate it. Knowing our place in the grand scheme of things is a step in the right direction.
Perhaps the best example of one knowing his place is John the Baptizer. John was the older cousin of Jesus and played an important role in the scheme of redemption. His mission was to turn the children of Israel back to God (Luke 1:16). He was the one who came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17)–the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 4:5. He preached to multitudes (Luke 3:7), baptized for the remission of sins (Luke 3:3), and had disciples (John 3:22). Yet, as significant as his role was he still recognized his place. John 3:22-36 records a conversation between John and his disciples in which they asked about Jesus baptizing. Perhaps they felt like their territory was being infringed. Regardless, John’s answer is revealing. He said, “…He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:27-30). John could have directed attention to himself, but he did not. He knew he was the friend of the Groom, not the Groom. Therefore he rejoiced that Christ was fulfilling His purpose and was happy to see his position diminish. As important as his role was, John knew that Christ’s was more important. He knew his place.
John’s example of humility is one that all Christians should follow. Preachers should be mindful that their role is important because of the work and the message, not the man. They should gladly submit to the rule of a godly eldership, avoid drawing attention to themselves, and always employ the attitude of Paul–“For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). Deacons should serve joyfully without allowing their position to become a stumbling block for pride or stubbornness, but instead blessing the local congregation with hard work and dedication. Elders should rule with humility, recognizing that each elder is answerable to the eldership and ultimately to Christ, the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4). Children of God, regardless to our role, must all hide behind the shadow of the cross. We must recognize that the will of God and the salvation of souls is far more important than us or our desire for recognition. Like John, we must know our place.