Got Servant Leadership?
Or do you lead by your will and pride? So, how did Jesus lead and ask you to be as you lead?
In John 13:1-17, we are given an extreme servant leadership is action!
Jesus gave us Himself as our “Example.” This means we are called to show others and influence and shepherd them¾not just tell them. Christian leaders are responsible to care for God’s people with faithfulness and honor, and never out of harshness or improper motivations (Matt. 23)! Jesus is our archetype and pattern for who we are and what we are to do—all in love and humility. We can trust Christ to lead us, and thus we can lead others in the same manner. This is also a contrast to Judas who was self serving and Jesus who is God and who serves. Jesus was demonstrating what the Disciples must do to participate in and spread the kingdom of God, focusing and developing others for Him by service, example, and humility. Get your direction from and mold yourself after Christ rather than trends, the latest ideas, or what you think will work.
Purely and simply, leadership is learned by first being a child and a servant of Christ. Neither an intellectual awareness nor Christian activity means anything without Christ.
We must be His to do as He wills; this takes our acceptance of Christ first, then our commitment and continual faith (example: Ezek. 34: 1-10; Luke 15:3-7; John 10:1-18; 21:15-17; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:3; love: Gal. 5:22-23; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 4:9-10; 5:8-13; 1 John 4:7-11; humility: 1 Kings 8:58; Psalm 25; Luke 22:27; Col. 1:18; Phil. 2:8; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:3-5)!
Look at this phrase: “No servant is greater than his master.” The word “Servants” referred to slaves or hired workers. They were much like the butlers and maids we have today, except they were usually “owned” by another person. (Yes, I know we sometimes feel that we are as Pastors and church leaders as people expect so much from us and we get back so little, but here there is a greater point.) The point here is that even though there were different types of slaves and servants, Jesus is referring to where the authority lies, which is always with the master; the servant exercises his authority through the master’s authority as a representative and thus servants are subordinate to him. In context, this is a reminder to never forget who you are—a child bought and redeemed by Christ. Do not take yourself so seriously; instead, take Him seriously (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:9; Phil. 2:7-8; Col. 3:11; 4:1).
We follow Him by means of “imitation,” as in do as you have seen me do and as I have instructed you. This passage was not meant to be a foot-washing ordinance; rather, it was an example of humble service. Real, effective leadership, whether meant to lead a person to the faith or to lead a church of the faithful is all about servant leadership. Ministry is not about what I want, it is about following Christ’s example and as a showcase for others to see and follow (Mark 10:35-45; Luke 22:26; John 1:27; 1 Cor. 3 - 4; Eph. 4; 2 Pet. 2:1-3).
Questions to Ponder
1. Can you think of examples of prideful leaders? Why are they never from God and never should be in control of His churches? Why would a church want such people? What can and should a church do with prideful leaders? (See what Jesus does in Matthew 23!)
2. How can we make sure that our ministry is not about what we want, but rather about following Christ as a showcase for others to see and follow? What can you do to make this happen?
3. How and why is leadership learned from first being a child of God and a servant of Christ? What happens when our direction comes from the latest ideas, or what we think will work?
4. What happens when Christian leaders are first and foremost servants of God who use us to serve others? What happens when we forget?