Thursday, March 6, 2008

Servant Leaders

“But Jesus called them over and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many.’” (Matthew 20:25-28 CSB)

The world has known many great leaders in human history, people who changed the course of history in some way or had an impact far beyond their immediate life. Names come to mind like Joseph, Hammurabi, Moses, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Constantine, Mohammad, Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther, George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and on and on. But atop the list of all of them is the name “Jesus.” Jesus was the greatest Leader of all time. And His leadership was unlike anything the world would expect. His leadership was “servant leadership.”

The kind of leadership the world espouses is the kind that uses force in some measure to lead people to conform to the dictates of the leader. Jesus pointed out that fact to the disciples, who were used to and expecting that kind of leadership. At the same time, He pointed out to them that anyone who wants to become great – in that case, this applied to all of the disciples, not just James and John – must become a servant and the slave of all, following His example. The world tends to see this as weakness, but actually, just the opposite is true. A servant leader is one who unlocks the potential of others and empowers them to accomplish their goals. The leader accomplishes his goals at the same time when he or she does this.

If John Maxwell’s definition of leadership is correct (he says that leadership is influence), then servant leadership is the highest expression of that concept, because through influence another person to become the best that he or she can possibly become, the leader’s influence grows continually in the perceptions of those who have been “freed up” to fulfill their potential. And if leadership is influence, every one of us can lead others in at least some measure. If we want to be the best leaders we can be, then servant leadership is the way to do this.

Lord, Help us today to implement Your teachings about leadership, for Your glory. Amen.

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