“In the world, the strong take advantage of, and abuse the weak, using them for their own personal pleasures or advantage at the other’s expense. But in God’s biblical design of leadership, the strong die for the weak. Those in charge, lay down their lives for the ones under their care. The leader serves and protects. The more powerful or influential you are, the more humble, servant-hearted, and sacrificial you become.” 

This powerful quote from the book The Resolution for Men defines the essence of Servant Leadership and stands in stark contrast to the Command and Control style of leadership Jesus discussed in last month’s passage (Mark 10:42-45).

Imagine being led by a servant leader who humbly puts others’ needs before his or her own. A leader who leads by example with unquestionable character and who consistently keeps commitments. A leader who engages and listens, and knows how to motivate each person as an individual. And a leader who cares enough to lovingly confront and hold accountable those who start to get off track.

Wouldn’t you love to be led by someone like that?

More importantly, wouldn’t you love to BE someone like that?

Think of the difference you would make in the lives of those you lead and the ripple effect that would have in their families. If you lead the people around you in the way Jesus demonstrated, you impact the “forevers” of your spouse, your kids, your friends, and the people at work.

Becoming a servant leader is a choice. It requires study, self-reflection, resources, and will. The price may be big for you . . . but the payoff is tremendous – and literally eternal.

Are you willing to put in the effort? If so, here are some first steps:

  1. Learn about Servant Leadership. Where I work, we recommend two easy-to-read books that do a great job explaining servant leadership in story form. They are The Servant by James Hunter, and The Way of the Shepherd by Kevin Leman and William Pentak. A few hours of reading may change your life and the lives of those around you.
  2. Identify those you lead. Defining which groups in your life on which to focus goes a long way in helping you concentrate your efforts. You can’t effectively pour into everyone. Groups may include your immediate family, the sports team you coach, or your colleagues at work.
  3. Get to know those you lead. Take a personal interest in each of the people you lead, one person at a time. Engage them on a regular basis. Listen to them. Keep up with what’s going on in their lives. Really, truly care about your people. They need to know you care about them or they won’t follow you.
  4. Create a safe and secure atmosphere where those you lead can develop into all God has designed them to be:
    • At Home: Eliminate destructive criticism – kids and spouses get beat up enough at school and work; they need a safe and secure atmosphere at home, and you set that environment as the leader.
    • At Work: Courageously confront workplace negativity. If you have hiring/firing power, replace those who continue to be toxic to the work environment and damaging to those you lead.

I’ll close with a paraphrase from Mark chapter 10:

The world around you uses Command and Control Leadership.
Not so with you.
I want you to be a Servant Leader.