The Essence of Servant Leadership

December 16, 2013

Woman Carrying Serving Tray

Christ is the embodiment of servant leadership.  His incarnation not only authenticated His deity, it also accentuated the manner in which He would lead His disciples.  Christ was not a go-with-the-flow pushover who excused all and any activity from those around Him; but neither was He an in-your-face-tyrant who coerced His followers to make decisions for egotistical purposes.  Christ did not seek self-fulfillment or self-validation; more times than not He actually refused recognition and pointed men to the Father.

As spiritual leaders, we have a similar responsibility – we should cause men to bypass the titles, positions, and futile accolades of our prideful accomplishments, and simply direct them to the great God of glory.  This was the manner of Christ – it should be ours as well.

We must be careful however when we categorize the leadership style of Jesus.  Yes, we can study His actions, decisions, words, accomplishments and try to implement them in the corporate or ministerial world.  We can use His lessons and put them into practice on the ball field, the business meeting, or the political stage.  But Jesus did more than just model a particular method of leadership.  He demonstrated the essence of a selfless life.  Jesus taught that glory, power, and honor are the fruit of humility.

This is the essence of servant leadership – leading others by serving others through humility.  Most leaders like the recognition, enjoy the applause, and gladly receive the awards.  But for the servant leader, the true reward is not fame, it is actually service.  T.W. Manson said, “In the kingdom of God, service is not a stepping stone to nobility; it is nobility, at least the only kind that is recognized.”

And be sure, God recognizes service and humility.  Jesus was given a name by the Heavenly Father…a name that will be applauded, recognized, and worshiped by all men.  Indeed, every knee will bow to the Potentate King of Glory.  However, the seat of Christ’s greatness was stitched with the fabric of selfless humility.  Therefore, the bigger question is not “who are you leading?” but rather “who are you following?”

Honor is a guaranteed triumph for the humble life, but I assure you, it is not the aim.  Servant leaders spend little time trying to hit the bull’s eye for their own glory; instead, they invest time, energy, and effort in helping others hit the mark.  Helping others find their way…this is the essence of servant leadership; this is the glory of Christ.



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