I don’t like to be meek. I like to be in control. I like to be right, independent, strong, organized, able to handle whatever happens to me, viewed positively by people and on top of my emotions.
I am a “Gut” personality on the Enneagram. That includes Perfectionist 1’s (like me), Challenger 8’s, and Peacemaker 9’s. Other personality types may also relate to wanting to feel in control. (Kristi and I have been talking about the Enneagram on our “Soul Talks” podcast.)
Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek…” (Matthew 5:5). Blessed are the shy and unassertive… Blessed are the docile, compliant, and overly submissive… Blessed are the spiritless and spineless…
Most of the pastors and leaders who talk with me would not be described as meek.You can’t lead a church or a nonprofit or anything or anyone if you’re spiritless and spineless!
Do you have to become meek to receive Jesus’ blessing? Do Type A leaders and other strong personalities need to become like milk toast to inherit the earth from Christ?
If meek means “humble”, as it’s usually interpreted, then yes, we need to be meek to receive God’s blessing. We can’t be on Jesus’ team, enjoy grace, or grow in virtue without humble dependence on God and divine mercy. (Luke 14:11; 18:9-14)
Nonetheless, in his beatitudes, I don’t believe our Lord is telling us, “Be humble to receive God’s blessing.”
Sadly, over the centuries Jesus’ beatitudes have morphed into advice on how to steer your life to get God’s blessings.Typically, people re-cast the eight characteristics of Matthew 8 and the four in Luke 6 as virtues to aspire to. But Jesus is not giving us prescriptions for a healthy and happy life — he’s handing out blessings to people who don’t feel eligible for God’s grace. (See our recent blogs and our booklet Jesus’ Greatest Teaching.)
Just as Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek…” so also he could say, “Blessed are the leaders, the Type A’s, and those who are ambitious to serve God and help people, for the Kingdom of the Heavens is available to you.” (e.g., Mark 3:14, 17; Matthew 16:18)
That contextualized paraphrase of Jesus’ beatitudes humbles me and other strong-willed personalities under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:5-6). It doesn’t shame us for being strong or determined. Rather than diminishing our gifts and energies, we’re encouraged to bring them to the altar of the Lord to learn how we can best partner with the Spirit of Jesus to do God’s will.
In the same way the Enneagram re-directs Gut types and other strong personalities to incorporate new personality graces from other types. This actually makes strong personalities stronger, but in a way that’s more honoring of God, humble, emotionally present, and compassionate.
We rightly talk about Jesus as a gentle, submissive, and tender servant. But Jesus is also a strong, assertive, and bold leader. Both are expressions of humility. To be humble is not to be weak, squishy, and wishy-washy — it’s to be genuine, unpretentious, and dependent on God in everything.
In ways Jesus is meek and in other ways he is brave. We need to admire, absorb, and emulate both sides of our Master.
Whether we’re Type A or Type B, bold or shy, confrontative or soft-spoken, tough or tender, in life and leadership Jesus teaches us to follow his example and put our confidence in God, not our self. The blessings are in the Kingdom of God, not the condition we bring to it.
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