Philippians 2 is often called the Kenosis passage because it describes Jesus as emptying Himself. He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” The word kenosis means empty or nothing, and the idea is key to understanding and solving the issues of humility and anxiety in Christian ministry (See the recent How to Insult Your Pastor Creatively).
Near the beginning of this passage (Philippians 2:3), Paul says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” The word “rivalry” is “found before NT times only in Aristotle, where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means” (BDAG). In this passage, Paul is considering the improper seeking of church office. The word “conceit,” better translated “vainglory” (KJV), is κενοδοξία—from κενός (nothing) and δόξα (glory). It is nothing-glory. Paul is concerned here with people seeking church office on the basis of nothing-glory.
We’ll look at the whole chapter to understand the difference between nothing-glory and real-glory. And in doing so, we’ll see humility and anxiety and how to deal with them in our ministries.