Servant Leader

. 6 min read

by Kim Hirt
Children at the Altar, John 13: 1-17

Scripture Luke 22:24-27

taught  many lessons in His 3 years of
ministry. And this one on being a servant leader seems to be the hardest one
for the Disciples to comprehend. The Jews were still looking for their King,
The Warrior, the ONE who was going to be the Greatest, to Rise up and take over.
Jesus style of displaying greatness was to offer compassion, be humble love
unconditionally and be of service to others. Putting others first.
opposite of the wordly view then and even today. People tend to equate
greatness with Power, with being first , more recognition. We tend today to
live in a Me, Me society.
In the bible
passage Jesus describes worldly leadership—where the Kings exercise Lordship
over them and demand the title Benefactor. A benefactor can do nice things  for others…so it appears. But their motive could
be for  selfish reasons. They tend to use
their position for personal gain, even at the expense of others. I’m sure you
can think of several instances of people in Power who have used their power for
the the wrong reasons. Even the church has had its problems with people in
power…which is one reason we have safe sanctuary policies now.  We all need to be accountable for our actions
and need to explore our own intentions of how we have used our position of
power. As a parent, coach, mentor, witness, teacher , friend. What are our
reasons for wht we do..
How can we
be a servant leader? What is a servant leader.

 Does the 2 words sound strange together.
Servant Leader    Lets look at the definition of a servant from
the dictionary “
a person who
performs duties for others, especially a person employed in a house on domestic
duties or as a personal attendant. Now that is exactly how the disciples viewed
a servant. During childrens time, I reviewed the story from John 13: 1-17  when Jesus put on an apron and began  washing  the disciples feet as a servant would. As you
heard Peter initially had a difficult time with that notion of Jesus washing
his feet. Jesus was trying to teach the disciples the importance of His
ministry as a servant to others. When Jesus said to Peter
: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with
me” (
John 13:8),that
 prompted Peter to say wash all of me
Lets look at The definition
of a leader from the dictionary” the person who leads or commands a group,
organization, or country”. That definition alone can lead to a lot of
interpretations. What kind of leadership will that person in charge provide.
Again , we can look around our country , our community, our towns and observe
all types of leadership styles.
So where did servant
leadership come from?
servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was
first described  by Robert K. Greenleaf
in 2 books he published in the 1970’s” one being  The Servant as Leader, and the second called
Servant Leadership: A journey into the Nature of legitimate Power and
Greatness. In his book, Greenleaf said:
servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one
wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to
lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps
because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material
possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types.
Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite
variety of human nature.
The difference manifests itself
in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest
priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer,
is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become
healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become
servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they
benefit or at least not be further deprived?“
servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the
communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally
involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the
pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power,
puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly
as possible.
Christians, we already know that Jesus was the first one to coin the word
servant leader.. We are so fortunate to have the best teacher. Jesus had
already  revealed servant leadership to
us. In
Matthew 20:28, it is written.  He came “not to be served but to serve, and to
give his life as a ransom for many.” The humility expressed by His act with
towel and basin foreshadowed His ultimate act of humility and love on the
We want to follow
Jesus’s example. Be humble, think of others first, raise others up. Let go of
pride and wordly approval.
Theres a song
called Dream Small by Josh Wilson. Its all about paying attentionto the details
of everyday in how we can serve others. . Even the smallest thing we do for
someone else, could be the greatest feeling for them. Don’t overlook the
simpliest things.
How can you serve
others. There are so many simple ways that you probably already do .
How about..Smile.
Did you know that if you smile at someone they will usually smile back. I used
to love to try to get the person behind the toll booth to smile. I would smile
first, offer them a compliment or affirm what a great job they were doing. By
the time I got my receipt;, they smiled. I was like YEAH!!!
Use a persons name
when speaking to them, especially if they are wearing a name badge. That’s  the sweetest word to them too.
Do the and then
some at work, refill coffee pot, take our garbage, open doors, etc. Cany ou
think of a few more things you could do
No gossip. Get out
of that club. Don’t hang around the water cooler as they say.
A kind word. Don’t
use words to make yourself look better and bigger and a fellow man look smaller
and feel inept.
Random act of kindness
Please and thank
Writing cards of
affirmation to people
Best one. Be more
interested in others,than you are of yourself
Listen intently,
without thinking ahead of what you want to say next.
How can you leave a
person you are with feeling better about themselves than when  you first got together with them.
One of my mentors, motivational
philosopher Jim Rohn. Said “It is easy to do as it is easy not to do” So if you
are not in practice serving others, start and keep practicing
A leadership
researcher, Robert Linden defined 7 characteristics of Servant Leadership. To
healing, Creating value for the community, Conceputual skills, Empowering,
Helping colleagues or employees to grow and succeed
others first and behaving ethically
service is a way we work to defeat our selfish nature. Because serving requires
us to consider others more significantly. The Christian life is a others
focused life rather than a self focused life.
When the
disciples were arguing over who was the greatest. In Matthew 18:1-4. Jesus
brought a child into the picture to explain the importance of humility.
 About that time the
disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he
“I tell you the truth, unless you
turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into
the Kingdom of Heaven.
 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the
greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
C.S. Lewis
said Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself
less. I love this statement. Let me say it again. Humility is not thinking less
of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less
God know we
are imperfect servants trying to be Faithful. Whats in your heart
Theres a
church in Santa FE, New Mexico which has a hand lettered sign over the door in
to the Sanctuary which says SERVANTS ENTRANCE
There isn’t
anyway in and out of the Sanctuary except through the SERVICE DOOR
Did anyone
notice the sign when you came in today.
That’s how
every church should be! It’s a place for servants only.
Who’s the
greatest in God’s kingdom? Those who humble serve as Jesus did
Don’t forget
your apron!!!!