We have to ask ourselves whether we are being an agent of change or being manipulative and controlling. We have to ask ourselves if we are empowering people or scheming to get them to do what we want. Are we leading from our authentic spiritual formation or from an idea of what we think we should be? Because, to be a leader for Christ, we must put off our own personal agendas and adopt His will and ways! An Incarnational and Servant Leader is a servant of Christ and a servant to others above all else. So, do you follow the above servant leadership principles? Incarnational Leadership is servant leadership. It is about our personal and spiritual growth and that of others. It is being an example and imitator of Christ so not only are we planted, growing, and thriving, but we are planting seed and cultivating others to do so, too (Philippians 3:10-17; 1 Timothy 4:11-14; 2 Timothy 2:15; Titus 2:6-8).
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. What is working?
2. What is not working?
3. What am I doing wrong?
4. What am I doing right?
5. How can I put these precepts into practice?
· The job of one who is committed to Servant Leadership is to model and facilitate trust in God and in one another. You must be committed to a stress-free environment in your team relationship! A good leader will always be actively listening and courteous. Your appreciation, love, and recognition of the contribution of others will encourage respect for one another because, as a team, all are growing together!
· The leadership must show a real, genuine sense of being Christ's servant and modeling it, and recognize the people in their care as His children. This is Servant Leadership Development (Galatians 2:20-21; Ephesians 4:11-13).
· The Incarnational Leader is focused on the glory of Christ, not of self! Thus, he does not fear losing authority when He is our authority. It is about who can do the job the best with dignity and character, not the fear of losing control.
· Is your leadership mindset from God's Word or from the latest trend?
· Do you encourage creativity and unity, or conformity and uniformity?
· Is your heart excited for what Christ is doing in you and in your church? Are you willing to be excited? Will you bring excitement from your heart and mind so it mentors others?
· Good leaders, who are servants, are relational and not loners.
· An Incarnational Leader does not posture himself to the detriment of others, or squelch the enthusiasm and call of others.
· Good leaders are available to others as Christ was (Mark 1:32-39).
· Good leaders empower and employ others as Paul did (Rom. 16:3-7, 9, 22; Col. 4:7, 10-11; 2 Tim. 4:20; Tit. 3:12; Phil. 23).
· Are you about ego and selflessness, or equipping and releasing others?
· It is essential that as leaders, we get along with and like others and have compassion. If not, we need to go to another avenue of service. Christianity is a social religion; it is not individualistic.
· Do you have clear goals and a biblical purpose, or are you engrained in personal goals for personal reasons?
· Do you have a method to monitor the performance of people without being condescending?
· Do you rely on your or someone else's charismatic personality or on what Christ is doing?
· Do you rally people for Him or for your own ideas (no matter how good they may be)? Our ideas can be used only when they are rooted in Scripture and so long as we do not regard our ideas or self as sacred or supreme.
· A shepherd needs to be clear in his communication. Clarity is a must as is flexibility. Being indecisive breeds contempt and disunity. People need to feel secure. Our security and direction must be in Him.
· Do you realize you are not indispensable, that we are all the people of God, called by Him who does not need us, but chooses to use us anyway?
· If we are claiming Christ as Lord, we need to be living the life¾not just talking about it or just showing up for the club meetings (church)!
· We need to see what He has done for us. He brings us to God, He makes us alive, He cleanses us, and He is our continual Example! Therefore, we do not need to waste any more of our lives with evil desires or evil deeds. This will translate into our conduct and our prayers (as these will become more serious), as well as our fervent love for one another (John 16:33).
· Sometimes we need to be firm; but, we are always to be friendly.
· The Incarnational Leader is supported and kept stable by Christ and must see life as a mission. We are here to learn and grow in Him not in the world, and to be infusers and influencers to the world, not from the world.
· Do your goals include your spiritual growth and that of the team?
· See and evaluate all new ideas according to God's Word; if there are no contradictions, give it a try.
· Give constructive feedback not criticism; give abundance of praise and catch people doing things right!
· It is about the people not the program. Make sure people are given encouragement and follow-up. If not, you will lose the best ones!
· Good leaders, even those with the kindest hearts and the most patience need to maintain accountability to and for others. Reasonable deadlines need to be enforced.
· Do you have clear job descriptions and lines of command? Do people know the vision, and has it been "caught?"
· Good leaders are vulnerable, admit mistakes, and take blame. Never rationalize misdoings or sin!
· Good leaders persuade and promote their church to be hospitable, as hospitality is one of the main reasons churches grow. People need to feel welcomed, cared for, and usable!
· Good leaders reward people, making them feel important and loved.
· Good leaders do not take themselves too seriously. They communicate that they are in a process, too. Be real and relevant.
· Do you spend the time to encourage your team on to spiritual growth?
· Do you know how to lead yourself and others to bring the church deeper into the heart of God to worship and glorify Him?
· Leadership is learned more than it is born. It is a gift and a call that is to be followed and cultivated. Strong willed personalities are born; biblical leadership is formed by being in Christ. It is far better to form leadership in a timid person who is receptive and teachable in Christ, than what we consider is a natural leader who is prideful! Because we are called to be strong in Him not just in ourselves!
· Leadership is not a privileged class of people. Rather, it is the bottom rung of the ladder that motivates others to move up the ladder to serve and to do.
· Do your team members have prayer as their focus and possess the competence, abilities, and skills to carry out goals?
· Do your team members have a deep reverence and love for the Lord, so it infuses them and their personality and spills out to others around them? (Keep in mind the different personalities and spiritual maturity of team members.)
· If we are claiming Christ as Lord, we need to be living the life¾not just talking about it!
· Do the goals of the ministry take a back seat to service, love, and care?
· Do you have a personal agenda that occupies your primary focus?
· Do you have a sense of unified commitment within your team so that they all feel a sharing of the ministry, or is one person running the whole show?
· Is there a sense of love and trust within the team?
· Do you hold regular meetings, listen, and welcome the input of others?
· Does your team trust you and know that you care and listen so that they share their perceptions and give you feedback?
· Do you encourage improvement without imposing pressure?
· Does your team have the necessary resources, supplies, and support needed to get the work done?
· Does your team feel appreciated?
· Do you build on one another's strengths as well as protect and offset one another's weaknesses?
· Do you allow your team the freedom to fail without judging or showing condescension?
· Does your team support you and help you achieve goals, or is there competition and back-fighting? Good leaders are good communicators; they inspire trust and confidence, they have vision, they know the goals, and they empower people in the right direction (Heb. 12:1-5).
· Do you have the ability to confront sin and take risks, setting the example for the team?
· Be enthusiastic (Prov. 22:29; Rom. 12:11; 2 Thess. 3:13; 2 Tim. 2:15)!
· Do you listen to new ideas from your team? Be proactive with the attitude of Christ.
· Does the church and upper leadership, including the pastor/pastors support you and your team?
· To be a healthy church, it must be both focused inwardly to equip and edify the people and outwardly to reach the community. Doing one without the other is a prescription for ineffectiveness and is courting disaster. Each one needs the other to be effective. We cannot do the work of God unless we are the people of God. We cannot do the work of God by ignoring Him!
· God NEVER asks us to violate His commands in order to accomplish His will (1 Cor. 9:22)!
· Have you spent adequate time with training?
· Be one who delegates by respecting, supporting, and equipping others, not micromanaging them. Affirmation and listening will foster cooperation and unity (Prov. 12:25; 20:5). People stop their service in the church when they feel they are not needed, empowered, trained, or respected. This is the real reason why churches have problems finding people to serve. It is not because they are not out there, but because they have encountered too many barriers and have been squelched!
· Are you open for improvement? If not, how can you develop an attitude to accept this? Always be reading and challenging yourself, and have others do so for you and to you.
· Good leaders are proactive, practice realistic and sound judgment, have initiative, and inspire others with their tenderheartedness and example. Bad leaders lead by a force of will.
· We are called to show compassion without regard to a person's status, to have the "strength" to walk beside others and minister the love of Jesus without condemnation. Godly meekness means showing grace to others because we understand the grace we have been given.
· Good leaders are teachable. To be a person who can teach, we have to be a person who is teachable, who is a learner and can pass it on, who can share insights and what has been learned with others to disciple them. It never means being condescending or thinking we know it all. This is not the spiritual gift of teaching. Rather, it is the ability to pass on God's love and insights to others. It is first being a learner, absorbing and applying what God has for us, then replicating that in others (Ex. 33:13; Psalm 25:4-9; 86:11; Proverbs 9:8-9; Matthew 7:28; 11:28-29; 28: 19-20; John 7:16; 14:26; Mark 4:2; Luke 5: 1-11; Acts 16:1-4, 18:5, 19:22, 20:4; 1 Thess. 3:2-6 2 Tim. 2:2; 2 John 1:9).
· How much time are you and your team spending in prayer, both personally and collectively? If prayer is not occupying at least one-third of your meeting times, your priorities are off-center!
· Humbleness is essential in leadership (Job 41:34; Psalm 10:5; 18:27; 101:5; 131:1; 6:17; Prov. 16:18; 21:4; 30:13)!
· Leadership exacts a heavy toll from us. Make sure you are fed from His precepts, have a mentor, take care of your family and self, eat right, exercise, take vacations, and always be accountable! Billy Graham told me this is how he operates! Pride will say you do not need this, but you will then fail as a leader and cause havoc in your church and ministry. Our confidence in God's work and power will spill onto others around us and be the frame of the church on His Foundation as the rest of the church finishes it (Psalm 5:3; 57:8; 61:2; 88:13; 119: 15, 147-148; Mark 1:35)!
· And do not forget to let go and let God. Do not be weary in doing good when people come against you (Gal. 6:9)!
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-centered, 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 of your 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).
© 1993, 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org