SERVANT leadership is not about being treated like a servant; it’s more about seeing ourselves as servants who are ready and willing to do the work of the Kingdom in our sphere.
Servant leadership is a sleeves-rolled-up form of leadership. It’s a leadership predicated on being a model of integrity; to lead by example; to lead by serving.
Yet, when I read someone from John Piper’s Desiring God ministry say that, “Genuine servant leadership means being treated like a servant” I’m exasperated.
Nobody treats anyone like a servant in the Kingdom of God by God’s design.
But, of a leader’s own initiation, they are privileged to lower themselves as Christ did, appearing as nothing, in order that others would be lifted up. A servant leader in this way is nothing short of inspiring. A servant leader is won to love and they love at any cost.
Jesus’ magnum opus, the cross, is our firmest foundation for love that serves to the point of the ultimate sacrifice. Yet Jesus could have died on that cross devoid of love and it still would have looked like such a sacrifice. Jesus, on a strictly human level, would have avoided the cross, but on a divine level he wanted the cross — it was his destiny. He wanted the cross not only because shame and rejection was the way that God would redeem a broken humankind, he wanted to die for the least of us.
The essence of servant leadership is we want the best for the other person, because we trust God to deliver upon our needs. Servant leaders, therefore, are exemplars of faith. And a servant leader’s hope is buoyant enough not to worry for their own.
Servant leadership, then, is a great model of inspirational leadership.
Any secular leader that would employ servant leadership in their workplace or community will find their influence, their borders, expanding. And for the best of reasons. Their leadership is trustworthy because it ensures others are respected and safe.
It’s a no-brainer that Christian leaders are to be servant leaders. Servant leadership is a Jesus leadership. He served the ‘least of these’ and preferred serving those life had rejected than hob-knobbing it with the religious elite.
To follow Jesus is to lead as Jesus led — to exalt the ‘least of these’ and to prefer to be a quiet yet consistent and effective advocate of the outlier and rejected persons.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.