LEADING LIKE A SERVANT
Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:
C Write the Key Verses from memory.
C Identify one leadership style that is uniquely Christian.
C Identify the greatest example of servant leadership.
C Explain how leading like a servant results in power.
C List four contrasts between secular and Christian leaders.
C Identify who we serve.
C Explain how to become a servant leader.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus;
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;
But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)
Leadership in the world is often measured by power, money, education , and abilities.
There are many styles of leadership in the world. By "style" we mean the way in which a person leads. For example, there are dictators who control people. There are also
democratic leaders who are controlled by the vote of the people.
When Jesus came into the world, He reversed the world’s concept of successful leadership when He became a servant. This chapter concerns the New Testament principle of leading like a servant.
A CONTRASTING EXAMPLE
Jesus contrasted spiritual leadership with worldly leadership. He said:
…Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:42-44)
Leading like a servant is what sets Christian leadership apart from worldly leadership. It is the one leadership style that is uniquely Christian.
THE GREATEST EXAMPLE
The greatest example of leading like a servant was the Lord Jesus Christ. A servant is one who serves others in humbleness, dedication, and love. Jesus both taught and modeled
servanthood. Jesus rejected all the ideas of power held in the world and proposed
something new. "Servant" is a strange word for a leader, but Jesus made it clear He had
come to serve:
…But I am among you as he that serveth. (Luke 22:26)
Mark relates that Jesus came not to be served, but to serve:
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
Paul said that Jesus…
…made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:7)
FOLLOWING THE PATTERN
The leaders in the early Church followed the pattern set by Jesus. They called themselves servants:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ… (Romans 1:1)
James, a servant of God and…Christ. (James 1:1) Peter, a servant…of Jesus Christ. (II Peter 1:1) Jude, a servant of…Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:1)
Grant to thy servants to speak thy Word with all boldness. (Acts 4:29)
We are to continue in this pattern. We are to be servants of those whom we lead.
THE POWER OF THE SERVANT
You may ask, "How can I be a leader if I am a servant to the people I am leading? Why all this emphasis on serving?" The answer to these questions is that in servanthood there is power. Leading like a servant does not mean being a weak leader. It is not to say that leadership should not be energetic , aggressive, and strong against spiritual enemies.
The power of servanthood is that it humbles a person to the point that he can be used by
God. This is illustrated in the life of Jesus Christ. Read Philippians 2:5 -11 in your Bible.
(You will study this passage in detail later in this lesson). These verses explain how
through humbling Himself as a servant and dying on the cross (verses 5-8), Jesus was
exalted in great power (verses 9 -11). The cross was the last place on earth anyone would
look for a leader , but it became the "power of God unto salvation" (I Corinthians 1:1 8).
In God’s Kingdom , the order of many things is reversed. We are strong when we are
weak, receive when we give, and live by dying. As a leader, you become powerful
Read Matthew 20:25-28 and Mark 10:42-44. These passages show four qualities of worldly leaders that contrast the characteristics of Christian leaders:
1. Secular leaders have dominion over their followers: "Dominion" in this text means
"oppressive , controlling force.” Servant leaders do not oppress or control their
2. Secular leaders exercise authority over followers: The word "authority" in this text
means "superiority.” Worldly leaders consider themselves superior to their
followers. Christian leaders are called to service, not superiority .
3. Secular leaders are chiefs over their followers: The word "chief" in this text means
to be in first place . In God’s Kingdom , the first (leaders) are last.
4. Secular leaders are lords over those they lead: The word "lord" means one to whom
service is due. The Christian leader serves his followers.
WHO DO WE SERVE?
As servant leaders, we serve the Body of Christ. Paul told the Corinthians:
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves
your servants for Jesus’ sake. (II Corinthians 4:5)
We also serve lost and dying humanity. Read the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 . Servanthood takes on dignity and power because when we serve others, we are really serving the Lord:
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you,
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)
Read the parable of the servants in Matthew 25:14-30. Because we are serving the Lord, we are responsible to Him :
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than His lord, neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (John 13:16)
HOW TO BECOME A SERVANT LEADER
Read Philippians 2:5-8. This passage explains how to become a servant leader by following the example of Christ. Leading like a servant means you must:
DEVELOP THE PROPER ATTITUDE:
Leading like a servant begins with your attitude. You must develop the attitude of Jesus:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus;
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God…and took upon Him the form of a servant. (Philippians 2:5-7)
God uses men and women whose heart attitude is right. David was anointed as king because the Lord looked at his heart (I Samuel 16:7). Motives are determined in the heart . Our natural motives are selfish. If you are to be a servant leader, your attitudes and motives must change.
But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a
servant… (Philippians 2:7)
Do not be concerned about your ambitions, plans, position, or reputation. Yield all of
things to God and humble yourself. Humbling yourself is something you do, not something God does.
IDENTIFY WITH MANKIND:
Jesus was able to serve because he identified Himself with mankind. He identified and met their needs:
…and was made in the likeness of men…and being found in fashion as a man… (Philippians 2:7-8)
Jesus was tempted like man, suffered like man, and had a body subject to the weaknesses and needs of mortal man. If you are to serve those you lead, you must identify yourself with them in their weaknesses, sufferings, and needs .
In order to serve, Jesus became obedient:
…He…became obedient… (Philippians 2:8)
Everyone who is in authority as a leader is also under the authority of a leader. As a
Christian leader, you are under the authority of God. You may also be under a leader of a denomination or Church fellowship. To properly serve as a leader, you must be obedient to your own leaders.
DIE TO SIN AND SELF:
Jesus was obedient event to the point of death:
…and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:8)
Paul said "I die daily" (I Corinthians 15:31). The dying of which he spoke was a
continuous dying to sin and self. This is what is required of those who would lead by
serving. You must crucify sin and self in your life. The cross will be a painful
experience, but as Jesus, you will learn the principles of servant leadership through the
SERVE IN LOVE:
Because of His great love, Jesus humbled Himself, took the form of a servant, identified with man and became obedient unto death:
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (I John 4:10-11)
Love is central to servant leadership. Love begins as an emotion in the heart, but it is
shown in practical, observable ways. When you truly love someone , you are willing to serve them .
A servant leader builds up those he serves. He never uses people but works with and through
them in a way that helps them grow spiritually . He gives instead of takes . Destruction is fast and easy but building takes time and is more difficult.
Read I Corinthians 13. Each place it says "charity" substitute the words "the servant leader. ” (Example: "the servant leader suffereth long.”) This will help you grasp the meaning of the love that is to be shown by servant leaders.
LET GOD BE IN CHARGE:
When Jesus came to earth as a servant, He gave up His right to "be in charge" of His own life . He said , "Not my will, but thine be done.” When you choose to be a servant, you give up the right to be in charge. You are no longer building your own kingdom. You are building God’s Kingdom. You no longer communicate your ideas or beliefs. You
communicate the message of your Master. It is no longer your will, but God’s will. Jesus came to serve by choice. Now the choice is yours…Will you choose to serve?
Remember: You are only qualified to lead to the degree you are willing to serve.