What is servant leadership and why don’t we see much of it today? Jesus gave us a picture of what servant leadership looks like. I don’t think the church has done such a good job of holding it’s leaders accountable to Jesus’ Model. We’re so accustom to the Worldly Leadership models. We even have come to expect those models to be applied inside the church, but scripture clearly calls us to something very different. Christ’s followers are called to true servant leadership.
NLT Matt 10:42-44 42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.
Did Jesus tell Peter to go and wash the disciple’s feet? Did he ask John to suffer thru the torture of the Crucifixion, to die for man’s sins? No, the toughest, the most difficult jobs stayed with the Leader. They were not delegated. Does this mean that Pastor’s need to Mop the floors, and wash the bathroom fixtures? I don’t think that’s properly applying the analogy. the primary issue is perceived status of the leader in the hierarchy. Worldly systems put the Leader on top, the middle manager down a few steps, and the front line workers down at the bottom. Down here there is no real authority, all the decisions are made at “higher” levels, but all the responsibility for actually getting the work done is here. When push comes to shove, these are the guys that pick up the slack, to come in overtime, that delay their vacations, and that suffer to make sure things get done.
This should be reversed. The leader needs to be the first to make these sacrifices, always looking to find ways to support and actually to serve those he leads. No, not to stifle them, but to provide an example for them, to demonstrate that the leader is actually serving those he leads. In some cases the Leader must shoulder all of the burden!
In servant leadership, in Jesus’ arrangements, the authority is always distributed down to the lowest levels. Jesus does not tell Pastor’s to keep their church clean. He’s not even speaking to the elders. He’s talking to every last soul in the place.
1 Cor 5;11 But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. 12 I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? 13 God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.
The structure of worldly & servant leadership.
In both models the big decisions are made @ the top, the little day to day stuff is about all that is handled at the lowest levels. God tells us how to lead, how to worship, how to serve, how to give, how to live.
I think this is one of the assignments God gives his church to help with our transformation. God wants us all seeking him, applying the Word, following the Holy spirit, & seeking one mind. Without all of those working in harmony, this assignment is impossible, but When cooperating with God’s will, we can move mountains!
MSG Acts 4;32 The whole congregation of believers was united as one – one heart, one mind ! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. 33 The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them. 34 And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale 35 to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need. 36 Joseph, called by the apostles “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, 37 sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles.
NLT 1 Chor 1;10 ‘Divisions in the Church’ 10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter, ” or “I follow only Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!
NLT Phil 2;1 ‘Have the Attitude of Christ’ 1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges ; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
NLT 1 Peter 3;8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind . Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. 10 For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. 12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”
Worldly Model; leader at the top
follower follower follower
Servant servant servant servant
Servant Leadership Model; leader at the bottom
Jesus Holy Spirit
CM CM CM CM CM CM CM CM CM CM*
* CM is Church Member
With all the members of the church seeking God’s will, seeking the Holy Spirit, & seeking one mind with other believers, we have a better chance of letting God lead. This is what is described in 1 Cor 14; 24-40 for believer gatherings. In the authoritarian model only a few are making most of the decisions. They may be better than the average person at hearing the Spirit, but they can never replace the entire body of Christ, when it is properly trained, focused on Christ, focused on God’s Holy Spirit, and seeking one mind with other Believers.
The Word tells us we all have one father, God, one priest mediator between us & God, Jesus. Although the word asks us to submit to authority, it also warns us about these ‘teachers of the law’;
NLT Mat 23;5 Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. 6 They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, 7 preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’ 8 “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. 9 Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. 10 And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them-Christ.
It seems today’s church doesn’t recognze it’s responsibilities. Many of ouur responsibilities as church members have fallen on the shoulders of our Ministers. It’s only when we understand & fulfill our call as children of God, that the Church will be restored to what God intended it to be. I pray we are ready & willing to accept this assignment. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.