What Servant-Leadership Is Not

Matthew 20 and Servant-Leadership

My friend Bill mentioned Matthew 20 in his comment to yesterday's post and ironically I reached Matthew 20 this morning in my weekly Bible studies. I love it when the plan comes together! 

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:25-28).

Here was what I wrote about one of those those verses:

v. 27 – Jesus put Himself forward as a model for leadership.  He did not come seeking power and position – we are back at Philippians 2 once again – but to do the will of the Father.  Let’s look at Philippians 2 one more time to see what attitude you and I should have as leaders:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).

What steps can you take to be like the leader that Jesus was and is, the kind of leader that He wants you to be.  One thing that Jesus did was to give His life. Where does the Lord want you to give your life?  What can you do to give it more fully and completely?

No matter how many books I read on leadership or what I seek to learn, I must always come back to the fact that Jesus, not Calvin, Luther, Collins, Maxwell or any other earthly leader, is my model for leadership.  He is the One who understands servant leadership and can help me apply the principles, whether in business, community or church. 

Tomorrow we will talk about what servant-leadership is not, but for today, it is about serving the highest priority needs of others.  It is putting my gifts, talent and experience at the disposal and use of other people, for their benefit and advancement.  It is trusting God for my needs even when they are greater than the ones I am serving and leading.  It is leading even when it's not popular or understood, again trusting that my reputation and "good name" are in His hands to control.

So while I will write a lot about what others have to say about leadership and hopefully add something of my own to the mix.  Let it never be misunderstood where I stand.  Jesus was and is the greatest servant-leader who ever lived, and He is not just the object of my affectation or emulation, but the object of my faith. 


Bill Kinnon

Now. How cool is that!?

My question would be, how many of us (and me included at the front of this line) would be willing to be poured out like a drink offering - in a manner similar to the experience of the Apostles and Jesus - all but one of whom were martyred.

For too many of us, martyrdom is what we experience when our assistants don't get our Starbucks order exactly right.

John Stanko

Right you are! Yet I suppose martyrdom isn't that dramatic when you have already been poured out consistently on a daily basis. It's just the next step closer to God! I heard someone say once that we are doing a life sentence for and with God, one day at a time.

A drink offering is fascinating, for after it dries up, no one knows it was ever poured out, except God. I have a message called "Pour Me Another Drink," based on what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:17: "But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you."

Paul could rejoice at being poured out for others. I think that is the goal (or at least one of them) of servant-leadership.


Matthew 20 - Awesome and amazing. This past week, so many of the questions I have had about me being a servant and having a purpose have been answered. I am rejoicing this morning about Paul's writing in Philippians 2:17. My eyes and my heart are open to being 'poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from my faith.' My loving God knows when the drink offering has been poured out.

Donovan Colt Torp

I think John Maxwell had the best axiom or proverb regarding your broken heart of church leadership. He says simply and profoundly thus, "Leadership is always the problem, and leadership is always the answer."

May we be well to remember the tool of the mirror when assessing problems and the tool of raising our hands in thanks to our heavenly father when things go well. I just thought of this silly thing while writing this. We have all heard the 'there is no 'I' in team' before. As it comes to leadership and worship and fellowship the only place where the 'I' resides is in the midst of the ship. This means with other crew members, officers, assignments, rooms, etc...It also means that there is a helmsman to whom our allegiance, our respect, our holy fear, and our purpose comes from. So often we take the credit for trimming the sails or raising the mizzen when that order was given by the captain to the mate, to the officer on deck and so on.

Many of today's pastors see themselves too far up the chain of command. How would David say it from a nautical perspective? "I would rather be a deckhand on the ship of my God....."

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