A Servant Leader-Part 2

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1 Samuel 7:3-4 “And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.

Extra Reading: Matthew 20:25-28

A true servant leader like Samuel follows the Lord whole-heartedly and points his followers to the Lord. Jesus took time to clearly explain the world’s way of leading (Matthew 20:25-28). He pronounced “Not so with you,” and made it clear that the disciples should never employ heavy handed, self-centred methods of leadership. Instead, those who follow Jesus are to be “servants of all.” I believe that the words “servanthood” and “leadership” appear to be somewhat contradictory. On the one hand, a servant is a person employed by another, who does the will of his employer. His job security depends on it, as well as his honour as a hired servant. Servanthood implies responsive activity, subservient position, and a submissive spirit. Leadership, on the hand, implies initiation. It involves direction, influence and motivation. It requires pro-activity, creative involvement, focus, and building others up so that together they can produce more than each person could individually. Leadership is knowing where one is going, and having the ability to inspire others to go along. The question is how can the two fit together? Whereas leadership describes the ‘what’ of our work, servanthood addresses fundamentally the ‘how’ of our work (the needs of others). We lead as servants. To be a “leader” in the worldly sense does not require servanthood.

Jesus’ leadership was not self-serving (John 13:1-16). Jesus put aside His own honour to serve-most significantly in the upper room as He washed the feet of the disciples. Eventually, His unique ministry led Him to physically die for those under His care (Philippians 2:1-11). He took the form of a servant in order to carry our burden of sin. He invited the lost to come to Him and find rest from their burdens (Matthew 11:28-30). As a great leader Jesus ignited the most amazing movement of all time, the movement of His worldwide church. Yet Jesus was also clearly a servant. Jesus calls His disciples “friends” and Himself a “servant’ (John 15:15). The disciples did not demand this of Him. The disciples’ role was one of deepest respect and obedience. Jesus also taught His disciples the importance of being servant leaders. He warned His disciples not to follow the world’s system of leadership. Rather, He challenged them to follow His example by giving their very lives to seek and save the lost. Paul’s servant heart is evident in his second letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:6-9). Clearly Paul felt that his position as an apostle entitled him to serve others and bear their burdens, rather than to be served. He taught us to do the same” “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). Paul had a heart to help the weak and be patient with everyone. Servant leadership means that the leader puts his follower’ well-being ahead of his own.

Prayer: Almighty God, help us to bear with the failings of the weak. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Rev. Samuel N. Modise   

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