Blessed are the Bankrupt


Leadership is broken because leaders are unbroken

Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . (Mt. 5:3)

What stunning, shocking words! What king announces his rule by calling the poor in spirit to him, the bankrupt, those with no resources who bring nothing to him?

Only one. The King who is lowly in heart, who offers a light burden because He is not bent down by the weight of pride. Amazingly these are the first recorded words of discipleship Jesus uttered. Jesus requires bankruptcy to enter His kingdom…

That’s what it means to be poor in spirit: spiritual bankruptcy, a total lack of resources to do what ultimately matters in life. We may have the resources for a successful career or serve in the community, but when it comes to serving Christ, we are all bankrupt. That’s what Paul meant in II Corinthians 2:16 when he described what it demands to serve Christ and then asked, “Who is adequate for these things?” If the apostle Paul was not adequate to live for Christ, who among us is?

It’s one thing to be bankrupt and another entirely to declare bankruptcy. Many of us are like a businessman now in the headlines because of insider trading who could not admit that he was in over his head, and the only way he could make it was to sell his knowledge to others who profited from it. Now all involved are overwhelmed by the burden of self-sufficiency and crashing under its devastating weight.

Jesus, because of our prideful unwillingness to declare bankruptcy, makes withdrawls from our already empty pride account in order to make deposits of His bounty. He does this by putting us in places where we cannot deny our need, first to bring us to Him and then to grow us in Him. The poorer we are in ourselves, the richer we become in Him.

So where are you? Fighting your bankruptcy, doing everything you can to deny it rather than declare it? If so you are digging a deeper and deeper hole, one that can only become your grave unless you declare your spiritual poverty and call for His riches.

The amazing thing is that He will not only hear you—he will pour out His bounty on you, He’s just waiting for you to open up a dependence account with Him so He can make you rich His way. If you have already declared bankruptcy and turned to Him, remember you are blessed—and don’t go back to your old self-sufficient ways.

Blessed are the bankrupt because the riches of Christ are theirs.

From "The Beatitudes Attitude: Blessed are the Bankrupt" on  The Broken Leadership Blog is about changing the leadership conversation from what we are doing with our hands to what God is doing through our hearts.


Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International, Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he served full-time for twenty-four years (1981-2005). During this time he also was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership for twelve years.