Servant Leadership

By Chad Hershberger

If I asked the question, “What makes a good leader?” everyone would give a different answer. But I think we can all agree that there are some qualities that are important to have in a leader, the most important being a servant’s heart.

Jesus had some radical ideas about leadership. From his perspective, the one who leads is not the one who is served, but the one who serves. This represents a marked departure from many concepts of leadership where greatness was equated with getting others to do what you want them to, often for one’s own benefit, or to be seen as successful. During work to be done, a servant leader is there with his/her sleeves rolled up and hands as dirty as anybody’s! Few things sour the leadership dynamic faster than an “us versus them” supervision mentality. No job is too small or insignificant.

In the Bible, Jesus is a model for us as an obedient servant. In Mark 10:35-45, James and John wanted to have a place of status and power. But Jesus diffused them, saying they didn’t know what they were asking. They were a little high on themselves because they said they were able to do the things Jesus did. When the other disciples became angry with this dialog, Jesus reminded them to be a servant. Because he was showing them what a servant really was.

Jesus was being a role model of service. I think leaders need to be role models. They need to show others what they need to do. As a role model, leaders show what good behavior is, set the tone, and put other’s needs above their own. They don’t always “go with the flow” but stand up for what is right and best. Leading by example means that what you do is in line with what you say.

Being a role model also means that you are a team player. You don’t say, “Get going!” but rather “Let’s go!” Your staff should feel that you are on the ground doing what they are doing. They should see your role modeling everything you teach, train, and expect of the staff.

To do all that, I think servant leaders need to be pray-ers. It is important for leaders to be a role model in prayer. The Apostle Paul is a good role model for us as a leader who prays (Paul prayed for the people and called on God for assistance. He showed his faith in the Lord. This is an important quality to have in servant leaders. In fact, Paul wrote in his book to Galatians the following. It reminds me that we need to show servant leadership in the church today: “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.” (Galatians 5:13)