Servant Leadership

Leadership is a verb rather than a noun. An effective leader will set an example of a servant’s heart to their followers. Servant leaders model a heart after Christ in meeting people at their point of need. Jesus is the embodiment of servant leadership. His life revealed the everyday calling to display a passion for people to know the hope of the gospel. Jesus came as the embodiment of the gracious work of God to forgive mankind of sin. Jesus chose and poured His wisdom into the disciples, not based upon perfection but their willingness to serve.[1] Jesus revealed his servant’s heart by choosing men that were smelly fishermen and tax collectors and led them to be world changers for the gospel. One of Jesus’ most powerful moments with the disciples was when he washed their feet after eating.[2] The disciples were finished eating and Jesus took off his garment and took a towel and began to wash their feet. Jesus was willing to go against custom and humble himself to serve the disciples. The disciples walked in open sandals all day, in the dirt streets along with animals. Jesus’ washing their feet is a representation of his mission in coming to earth. Jesus was equal with God, all things were His, and He still humbled himself. He laid aside the majesty of Heaven and took the form of a servant by symbolizing to the disciples what He would accomplish on the cross. Jesus was leading by example through revealing His willingness to serve regardless of what was considered normal.

In order to lead with a servant’s heart, a leader must focus upon serving people and putting their needs as priority. Jesus displayed humility, love to the disciples, signifying the importance of spiritual washing, and setting an example to follow. Jesus washing the disciples feet set the stage for His ultimate proof of love on the cross. The disciples were his closest companions throughout his life and ministry. Jesus portrayed the greatest example of humility and unconditional love by even washing Judas’ feet, the one who would ultimately betray him.

Leaders must stay consistently connected to Christ on a daily basis. Service is at the heart of Christ-like leadership. Jesus came to give regardless of the return He would receive. Jesus’ example is a daily decision to see people as more important than the task at hand and show grace in word and deed. Leadership must be motivated by meeting the spiritual needs of the people that need Christ. Jesus’ love moved his life to display compassion to everyone. Leaders must be consistent in their attention to the specific needs of the people. Jesus led His followers by continuing to show grace even when the disciples made numerous mistakes during their journey.

Servant leadership invites relationship to people that are in need of the hope that comes in Christ. A leader that is guided by service looks at ministry as a mission rather than a job. Servant leaders have a team mentality rather than viewing themselves as the final authority on all decisions. God’s plan is to meet the needs of people physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Jesus was willing to take a risk socially and physically to fulfill the atoning work on the cross for mankind’s sin. Jesus’ display of redemption was most readily seen in His conversation with the repentant thief on the cross.[3] His love for those that did not give in return reveals the heart of God.

The needs of people must always be the focal point of leadership. In order to display Jesus’ example of service, leaders must stay focused upon reaching people with the unchanging word of God. Relationship with people leads to strength and consistent growth in a ministry. Jesus modeled a focus upon the mission of redeeming mankind. Leadership today is in need of staying consistent to reaching and loving the lost by living out a servant’s heart in the church and community. Lastly, leaders who develop authentic relationships with their followers will see results of the servant’s heart of Christ throughout their ministry.

[1] “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35

[2] John 13:1-17

[4] And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:42-43