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Effective Leadership

Servant Leadership Principles

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
If you are in leadership, then be a good leader! Servant Leaders are the managers and administers who do the hands-on work of the Lord! We are to do this by being the people of the Lord. Incarnational Leaders are people who are more visionary, the ones who set the tone and empower the Servant Leaders. Incarnational Leaders are the visionaries, entrepreneurs, architects, and builders of the church.
Servant Leaders are the managers and administers who do the hands-on work of the Lord!

John 13:1-17; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27; Galatians 1:15; 2:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; Philippians 2-3


       Servant Leadership is exercising real, godly leadership, as Christ did when He used a towel, and influencing, equipping, and empowering people to accomplish God's purpose and plan. It is serving others unselfishly while influencing and empowering them to grow in a Christ-directed, purposeful direction. This was an uncommon trait in Jesus' time, just as it is in ours; do not let it be uncommon for you! Being a leader in the church, or in the home for a husband, is never a force of personality; it is earning that respect because you love and care (1 Kings 3:9; Luke 22:25-28; Matthew 25:21; Mark 9:33-37; John 5:19; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 2:24; Hebrews 13:17)


        Servant Leaders are the managers and administers who do the hands-on work of the Lord by being the people of the Lord. Incarnational Leaders are people who are more visionary, the ones who set the tone and empower the Servant Leaders. Incarnational Leaders are the visionaries, entrepreneurs, architects, and builders of the church. They lay the foundation and, with love and care, equip others for the details. They provide the building materials in leadership from their spiritual formation and growth. They give positive direction and engage one another in caring, effective relationships so the church will be operating on Kingdom principles. Servant Leaders are genuinely contributing to the life and ministry of the church. They are proactive and hands-on managers and administrators. Each leader type realizes he/she is not about gifts and personality; rather, each is a temple of God operating in Fruit, character, virtue, and serving Christ and one another.


        Here are a few bullet points with ideas for you to consider with prayerful contemplation. Read the passages at the beginning of this article and here in parentheses, and then look at each point and discuss. The veracity of each of the principles below applies to both Incarnational and Servant leaders:


Ask yourself or Group:


1.   Are these working in you and in your church? If not, why not?

2.   What would your church look like if these precepts were functioning?

3.  What can you do to instill Incarnational Leadership in yourself and your church?


   Hint: it starts with modeling them! And, don't forget, lots of prayer.


·        Incarnational and Servant Leadership are about being humble-minded! They are never negative, condescending, or scheming.


·        Incarnational and Servant Leaders will have the enthusiasm and willingness to be virtuous and positive to all of the people they touch, both in their family and in the church.


·        Incarnational and Servant Leaders are not insecure, but secure in whom they are in Christ. They recognize that life does not revolve around them, but rather on relationships, first with Christ and then with others. Their focus and motivation are not on their ideas, but first on Christ and then on others. In contrast, bad leaders are distinguished by their pride, boasting, self-absorption, self-protection, and self-interests.


·        Servant Leaders give priority to others and value their opinions. They do not compare or criticize others. 


·        Incarnational and Servant Leaders are, first and foremost, loyal to Jesus Christ. They are never concerned about serving their own interests, manipulating, or seeking personal gain or control.


·        They are people who have the attitudes that Jesus had!


·        They are people who have been transformed by Christ, with faith as the core of their being, and fuelled by Christ, not self!


·        They are people who place the needs of others first!


·        They are people who have eternal values and God's timing in mind!


·        They are people who place integrity ahead of ambition! (1 Tim. 3:2a & 7a)


·        They are people who see glorifying Christ and serving Him as the measure of success!


·        Servant Leaders of Jesus Christ and His church have His "basin and towel" attitude (John 13:1-17; 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27)!


·        Servant Leaders do not neglect their families!


·        Incarnational Leaders do not allow themselves to fall away from their responsibilities and call.


·        Incarnational Leaders will have a deep sense of purpose that comes from God, with His direction, identity, and eternal destiny in mind.


·        Servant Leaders are not weak¾they are meek (strength under control)! They are willing to challenge the system, ask questions, take risks, and, when necessary, they are willing to change.


·        Incarnational and Servant Leaders, above all, desire to pursue their Christian formation to become excellent both in character and spirituality.


·        Christian leaders and followers must not allow personal agendas or power issues to get in the way of God's Word or of reaching the goal of the church (if the goal is biblical).


·        Servant Leaders think strategically, like a quarterback does in football. They see the big picture and what is needed to run plays, then see possible options and defenses needed in order to better glorify our Lord in life, programs, and the church.


·        Incarnational Leaders do not seek power and/or influence; rather, they are revolutionaries showing that the world's ways are ludicrous and ineffective (Mark 9: 33-37)!


·        Servant Leaders know how to lead themselves and others in order to bring the church deeper into the heart of God so to worship and glorify Him!


·        Servant Leaders are not willing to compromise truth or the Word just to be more effective!


·        Incarnational Leaders tear down sin and Satan's strongholds and pull the weeds of strife away from the flock.


·        Servant Leaders should be able, while modeling the way, to get others to follow, empowering them to grow spiritually and in ministry.


·        Incarnational Leaders do not compare or judge one another. They see each church and leader who is operating under God's call as unique and purposeful. They do not seek to become what they are not, nor cause division, strife, or conflict.


·        Incarnational Leaders do not leave conflict unresolved or festering. They are proactive and nip potential problems in the bud by showing others the vision that Christ has given and seeking how all can work together more efficiently to help build His Kingdom. 


·        Servant Leaders will include the team in all major decisions and strategic planning for the ministry.


·        Servant Leaders keep in mind Barnabus and his relationship to the disciple, Paul. The early church leadership, a model that we need to apply, linked them to each other.


·        Incarnational Leaders promote the atmosphere of unity as well as diversity. The unity is in Christ and the diversity is in race, economic status, gifts, abilities, and call. They are also willing and able to deal with disunity and divisions before they become rooted in the church culture.


·        Servant Leaders work primarily within their call, gifts, and Scripture, while at the same time are willing to be challenged. They will take up the slack in areas in which they are not best equipped until a better replacement is ready.


·        Servant Leaders are open and motivated by the Holy Spirit, which is not just a charismatic thing! (2 Tim 1:6,7)


·        Incarnational Leaders honor, respect, trust, and support one another as joint-heirs and partners in service to the Body of Christ (Rom. 8:14-17; Titus 3:7).


·        Servant Leaders never micromanage or manipulate others; rather, they exercise their power in constructive ways to serve others and empower them to be more effective and character-driven.


·        Servant Leadership is a team approach! The teammates know that working together means giving without receiving, as well as growing spiritually, both personally and corporately! 


·        Incarnational Leaders are realistic and are willing to take risks within reason.


·        Servant Leaders do not forget to support the church's overall vision and purpose statement, nor place personal feelings higher or in place of it. Each team and Servant Leader is a working part amongst the other parts. Just as a car cannot go anywhere with just an engine, each team and leader contribute to the overall mission and purpose of the church.


·        Servant Leaders always tell the truth, stand for biblical convictions and values, and work to change what is not healthy in the church.


·        Servant Leaders know that loyalty, harmony, unity, trust, and commitment come from a collaborating and encouraging environment.


·        Servant Leaders realize they will face criticism, unpopularity, and risks, as well as public and private verbal rebuke and gossip. However, they are still willing to stand strong, because they do not stand alone. Christ is with them. He is never with the gossipers!


·        Servant Leaders listen to everyone, not just the ones in power or ones who have the influence!


·        Servant Leaders and Incarnational Leaders listen; they never brag or boast, except about Christ.


·        Servant Leaders are extremely important! All of the pastoral staff and board need to be servant leaders, as they will set the tone for the church.


·        Incarnational Leadership seeks to make sound, logical judgments that glorify Christ. They try not to jump ahead of God's timing and plan, or jump to false conclusions.


·        Servant Leaders know that the effectiveness of their empowerment, training, and supervising of the team will determine the effectiveness of the ministry and church. 


·        Incarnational Leaders uphold and promote a vision that motivates, encourages, and inspires the church to accomplish the mission Christ gave. They encourage cooperative objectives that promote Kingdom agendas.


·        Servant Leaders can and should expect that Satan will not be happy with them, and must be aware of his various ways of distraction and confusion, especially when success comes which infringes on his ground. The church is Satan's ground all too often!!


·        Incarnational and Servant Leaders know that Jesus walked the earth as a revolutionary. He did not conform to this world, nor did the Apostles. Our Lord's teachings were conveyed with tender confidence, controlled power, and with passionate truth. He was not influenced by the rich and powerful of His day, as He rebuffed them and never backed down from His convictions. Jesus did not measure up to what they thought He should be, while at the same time, He was also threatening to those in power.


·        Servant Leaders will resist the latest fads and leadership trends that are unbiblical! Yet, they will use techniques that are in the character of our Lord to make them more effective! Examples might be budgeting and time management.


·        Servant Leaders are never prideful and do not take themselves too seriously! They will never have inflated feelings about their importance or thrive on attention and admiration!


If you are in leadership, then be a good leader!


Be Incarnational and a servant with your leadership. Our attitude and behaviours will be closely watched and mimicked! We are the ones who will either encourage others to seek and know Him more, or distract them away from the church and our Lord. We must be growing in the faith with conviction and fortitude so we will have good motives. Good motives are essential to good leadership; otherwise, all you have are power plays, strife, and dysfunction! Churches that have problems, for the most part (in my experience), are mainly because the leadership has forgotten who Christ is in their personal lives, and they do not practice His precepts. They are not willing to be good followers and therefore end up leading the people with personal agendas and trends. Christ is left out of the loop (1 Kings 3:9; Luke 22:25-28; Matthew 25:21; Mark 9:33-37;John 5:19; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 2:24; Hebrews 13:17)!


Incarnational and Servant Leadership embodies the fruit and character of our Lord. It must be Christ-directed in a godly, purposeful direction. It requires being a servant before attempting to direct others. The leadership for the church must come from the Jesus model, not the business model! It is never a force of personality or wills; it is earning that respect because of your love and care. It must come from Him, disseminating through our personal disciplines of growing in Him by faith and His Word, and modelled from good mentorship. This will mean we serve unselfishly so we influence, equip, and empower people to accomplish God's purpose and plan. Disintegrating or bad leadership is more destructive to a local church than a legion of demons, as it corrupts godly principles and displays a skewed understanding of our call to follow Christ. It seeks its own, and not the Word.


These principles will take time to learn, as they cut across what we may have learned in seminary, at conferences, or from high-priced consultants. Nevertheless, we are called to run a church this way¾His way. We can learn it and implement it! In so doing we will be excellent and successful in what really matters, serving by trusting and obeying our Lord Jesus Christ!



© 1989, 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, 

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