Ask anyone in leadership in a Christian setting if they are a servant leader, and they will probably say, “Yes!” Churches and ministries uphold servant leadership as the leadership model exemplified by Jesus Christ. It’s the standard we strive for, but it’s so much easier to preach than to practice.
Love for others is what sets servant leadership apart from other leadership approaches. Rather than setting the success of the organization as priority, servant leadership focuses on love for the followers. Healthy, cared for followers will, in turn, lead to organizational health.
What does the love of servant leadership look like?
- Having a heart to serve others.
- Putting others’ best interests above your own.
- Sincerely caring about the welfare of the people working with you, and taking an interest in their personal lives.
- Being an active listener.
- Promoting kindness, respect, and honesty in the workplace.
- Recognizing when others are feeling down without being told, and offering encouragement.
- Having courage to speak into other people’s lives, even when it is difficult.
Investing in the holistic development of your followers.
Perhaps servant leadership would be easier if it were simply a matter of engaging in a correct set of behaviors. Alas, servant leadership requires authentic character and genuine care about your followers. It is build upon God’s love.
In 1 Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul discusses the supremacy of love over the greatest possible exploits. No matter what amazing leadership feats we may accomplish, without love we are nothing and we gain nothing. One of the most popular verses in the Bible, John 3:16, portrays love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…”
Simply put…Love gives.
Servant leadership is more about “being” and less about “doing.” At its best, servant leadership flows from the heart devoted to God. It is founded on a strong identity as being a child of the King. Servant leaders value what God values, and place priority on what God places priority–PEOPLE! They really, truly love people.
Servant leaders view themselves as servants first rather than leaders first.
They are servants and stewards rather than leaders and owners.
They view it as a privilege to invest in their followers.
They recognize leadership as a gift from God by which they can effectively serve others. Empowering followers and inspiring vision are expressed through love.
Servant leadership is not for the weak of heart. Rather, it takes great courage and conviction to take the posture of a servant and to love those entrusted to your care.
As a leader, how are you doing in this area of truly loving your followers? Is it time for a servant leader tune up?
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of leadership. Help me to steward the gift faithfully so that I can serve others well. Show me the areas where selfishness rules. Show me how to place followers ahead of myself. Teach me to lead with Your genuine love and kindness in Your kingdom work. In Jesus’ name. Amen.