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)
Manipulation, Political Self-Centered Agendas, and Exploitation, are all opposites. These types of leadership models may be the common approach-so it seems-but they will fragment, and even destroy a church. The leadership for the church must come from the Jesus model, not the business model! Rotten leadership is more destructive 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.
Jesus clearly tells us that a leader should behave like a servant (Luke 22:26). We are not in leadership for power, control, or for personal gain. Rather, we are to point others in His direction by our example. Jesus took a towel and washed His disciple's feet. This is an act we can easily glance over, missing its significance. But this was God, Creator of the universe, performing the lowest job in that culture-washing someone's feet. If the President of the United States came over to clean your toilet, it would be a pale comparison! This is an example for us-we are never too high in our position to perform the lowest tasks, because, it is not the task-it is our servant attitude that is important.
Samson was a Judge for Israel (Judges 13-16). His primary responsibility was to lead his people, and defeat the Philistines. He chose, instead, to party and pursue women that were not right for him. The end result was that his strength was taken away; he was blinded and powerless. Only at the literal end of His life did he call upon God. He wasted his leadership and abilities on foolish, meaningless gains and manipulation. How sad that so many of our church leaders do the same. We are given precious opportunities and we squander them, pursuing trends, personal needs, and desires-and not God's Will!
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character, this Fruit of Servant Leadership from God's most precious Word, by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:
- How do I exhibit Servant Leadership in my daily life?
- What can I do to develop a better willingness to have a serving attitude in leadership and value people rather than manipulate them?
- What blocks Servant Leadership from working and being exhibited in me?
- How can I make Servant Leadership function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture (John 13:1-17; Acts 13:1-5; 1 Corinthians 16:15-18)
· Here are negative examples from Scripture (Genesis 30:25-43; Judges 13-16; Ezra 4:8-23; Matthew 18:21-35; Luke 22:24)Further Questions
- How would you define Servant Leadership? Are you a Leader? If so, is your attitude to serve or to control? Which is God's model?
- What part does Servant Leadership play in your church? Do you and/or the leaders express Christ-like principles, or business paradigms?
- How does manipulating others counteract Servant Leadership? What is the cost to others (God, family, friends, neighbors, church, workplace, etc.) when you are a leader who is self-centered?
- What happens to your church and community, and with the opportunities God gives you, when you are in leadership for personal reasons or for control?
- When has your church been filled with Servant Leadership the most?
- Can you think of a situation where you, as a leader, failed to be serving, when you should have been?
- What issue, in your church, would improve with more Servant Leadership?
- Think through the steps you need to take to put Servant Leadership into action in a specific instance, such as, how can I be selflessly serving others by influencing, equipping, and empowering them to follow God's Will without manipulation or control? Where is Servant Leadership not functioning properly in my church and what can I do about it?
© 2003, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org