Week 48, Day 1 - Service

"The idols speak deceitfully,
    diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
    they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
    oppressed for lack of a shepherd" - Zechariah 10:2.

God often chooses to accomplish His will through leadership. He expects leadership to give the people direction and care, not to dominate them for personal gain or mislead them through useless leadership strategies. In today's verse, the Lord spoke through the prophet to reveal what happens when people have poor or no leaders: they fall prey to oppression from the loudest voice or the latest fad. The Lord further revealed that the oppression comes from their lack of direction, so they wander like sheep. Leaders must be mindful of their God-given role to care for His flock regardless of whether they serve as leaders in or outside the church. This role can be most ably fulfilled when leaders have the mindset of servants and not that of lords or masters who are immune from God's direction or judgment.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to continue to grow in your understanding and application of servant-leader principles. You can become familiar with the writings of Robert Greenleaf, the father of modern servant leadership studies at his website. Or you can download the attached article from my book, So Many Leaders, So Little Leadership, where I discuss biblical servant leadership so you can continue to grow in your role as a servant.

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Week 43, Day 1 - Service

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them. 'You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so,  for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you'" - John 13:12-15.

It was customary for a host to provide water to help traveling guests refresh and clean up from their dusty travels on foot. Yet no one wanted to assume the role as servant to the others at the Last Supper to provide this kind of demeaning, practical effort. Jesus recognized He had a 'superior' position to His disciples as Teacher and Lord, yet He did not use His position for personal gain. Instead, he gave them an example of how leaders should empty themselves of any rank or leadership perks and serve those who follow them, instructing His disciples to replicate what he had done to them as a rule, not an occasional exercise.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to assess how deeply a spirit of service has permeated your family or organization. Is there a spirit of cooperation between departments? How do you know there is (or is not)? Do the leaders have elite privileges like parking spaces and special meals, or is everyone treated the same? Is your customer service exemplary, going beyond the normal to the spectacular? What can you do to improve your culture of service?

Week 38, Day 1 - Service

"Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him" - 1 Samuel 16:23.

David was obviously a skilled musician and his talents did not go unnoticed by the royal court. He was recruited to play for the king, but those were no ordinary concerts. David had to play for a mentally-disturbed king who had severe issues with depression and anger. David's playing soothed the king's foul moods but instead of the king or his counselors addressing the real problem, they sought temporary relief through music. The point here is that David was called to serve in an awkward and delicate situation, and his talents were put to use in a way he probably never imagined. Leaders often have to devote their talents to difficult situations that do not always serve their career interests but contribute to some public or corporate good that helps other people.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine your motives for service and excellence. Are you pursuing those two values for your own benefit or for the benefit of other people? Are you avoiding tough assignments to protect yourself and your career path? Do you feel bitter that you have been used to make a bad situation better without proper recognition or reward? Have you made your talents and gifts totally available to the Lord for Him to utilize wherever and whenever He chooses?

Week 33, Day 1 - Service

"The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
    and whoever protects their master will be honored" - Proverbs 27:18.

Leaders usually have many people serving them, both personally and professionally. These people often serve with distinction and are an important part of every leader's work and any organizational success achieved. Today's verse indicates that those servants and team members are worthy of honor along with the leader. Leaders should remember that any success they enjoy is not due to their efforts exclusively but rather to the efforts of the team. Therefore, leaders should be part of the process to proactively and creatively honor those who serve them day-in and day-out with distinction and excellence.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine who in your world serves you well and is deserving of a special blessing or some recognition. Make a list of everyone whom you need to recognize for outstanding service to you. Then be creative and think of personal and special ways to bless and honor them. It can be a personal note from you, a special gift, a small (or elaborate) ceremony, something nice for their families, a group outing, or simply some extra time off.

Week 28 Day 1 - Service

"The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted" - Matthew 23:11-12.

Greatness is not only measured by what leaders do but to what level of service to others they attain in what they do. Service is not being polite by holding doors open for people, although courtesy and manners are an important part of team building. Leadership service is using power to help others achieve their highest priorities and realize their potential. In other words, leadership power exists to empower others, not to build a personality cult around the leader. When leaders serve and please God by serving others, He will honor them according to His own timetable, which may only be after they are gone from the scene.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to assess, as you have done at other times since the beginning of the year, your servant-presence on your team (or in your family). Give yourself a score of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) in the following areas: listening to others, knowing their goals and challenges, time for others, daily involvement in helping teammates, and time spent teaching and training (giving away who you are and what you know). How can you improve on your scores?

Week 23 Day 1 - Service

" . . . Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves" - Luke 22:26b-27.
Jesus' last lessons to His disciples before His crucifixion were about leadership and its connection to service. Jesus confronted the thinking that service is below leadership and the two should and could not be connected, but Jesus saw service as the antidote to leadership abuse and power. What's more, Jesus indicated that His greatness did not emanate from His postion or power, but from His mission, which was one of service. Leaders must address and adjust their attitude toward service and, if they are to be great like Jesus indicated, position themselves to serve others as the youngest in a family was often expected to serve all his or her elders.
LEADERSHIP STEP: One way to serve others is to take an interest in their future and use your position, power, and experience to help them see it come to pass. This requires you being a good listener and taking the time to hear the dreams and aspirations of those closest to you. Some time soon, schedule time with one or two of your closest followers and talk to them about how you can help them get to where they believe God wants them to be professionally.

Week 18 Day 1 - Service

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist" - John 13:3-4.

Jesus knew who He was and that He had power and control over 'all things.' So what did He do as a result? He stripped down to His 'work clothes,' took a towel, and washed the feet of His disciples. He used His power to serve the practical needs of others, in this instance washing their dirty feet that had accumulated dust from walking life's messy roads. Leaders have power, but they know that the power can inflate their ego, so they look for opportunities to humble themselves, especially by serving others. And serving others isn't just being polite; it's doing for others what they can't do or know how to do for themselves.

LEADERSHIP STEP: If you're not yet a leader, write out today some of the things you will do for others with your leadership authority and power when you receive them. If you are a leader, examine how effectively you serve others. List all the instances where you're using your power to serve other's needs. If your list isn't adequate to suit you, then devote some creative time to think of practical things you can do to better serve others from your position of authority.

Week 13 Day 1 - Service

"A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, 'The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that . . . '" - Luke 22:24-26a.

Some leaders are dictatorial, but in a kind manner. Jesus specifically forbid the benevolent-dictator style, not just for the church work, but for leadership in general. The word 'benefactor' is of Latin origin, the combination of two words 'doer' and 'good.' Leaders who follow Jesus are not to lord it over other people even if they consider it a good deed and in the best interests of others to do so. Why is this? It is because this power, even when used to help the weak, eventually goes to the leader's head and they can begin to believe they are actually better than others instead of simply the servant of others.

LEADERSHIP STEP: There is only one antidote for leadership power and that is practical service. Your step today is to assess your leadership style to determine if you are lording it over people, while rationalizing it by thinking you are doing it in other's best interests. Find some material to read so you can learn more about servant leadership, and then work to incorporate its philosophy into your leadership style.

Week 8 Day 1 - Service

"But Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there not a prophet
of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord
by him?' And one of the king of Israel’s servants
answered and said, 'Elisha the son of Shaphat is
here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah'" - 2 Kings 3:11.

Elisha was the major prophetic leader in Israel at the time the king asked his question above. What was Elisha's preparation for leadership? First, he was chosen by God, but then he spent time 'pouring water on Elijah's hands." As an apprentice, he served Elijah as Elijah mentored him. Elisha went from serving one man to serving the nation, all the time serving the Lord. This is the same path that David, Joseph and Moses followed: seemingly meaningless and perhaps even boring service was part of their preparation for leadership.

LEADERSHIP STEP: If you are an emerging leader, then serving is part of your training! If it is not part of your job or degree training, then what can you do to find a situation that will ground and humble you through service? If you are already a leader, regularly spend some time in the field - customer service, finance, maintenance - and serve the people there, staying in touch with reality and with the people who do the front-line work. This will help keep leadership power from going to your head.

W3D1 - Service

" . . . 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 20:28.

Jesus was the consummate leader, yet He didn't come to do anything but to serve His Father and His people. You're called to follow Him, so that means if you are to lead, you must learn how to serve. That service must be more than being polite. On the contrary, you must learn how to use your power to empower others rather to build a kingdom for yourself and your cause. Finally, Jesus didn't serve a few but many and you too must be willing to serve many people according to the call that God has bestowed on you.

LEADERSHIP STEP: It's easy for a leader to be served, for the leader can expect it and the people can hope to garner the leader's favor. Don't do that! Instead of being served, determine today how you will serve others with the power you have as a leader (or the power you will have when you become one). Develop and write out a servant strategy for how you can serve others effectively and in a way that will please God.