How to Define Servant Leadership as a Follower of Jesus

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define servant leadership

How to Define Servant Leadership as a Follower of Jesus

Have you thought about how to define servant leadership and strategies of Jesus Christ?

How can we define a follower of Jesus as a servant leader?

Servant Leader definition, noun

  1. A servant leader is a servant first: follows Jesus Christ as the greatest example of a servant leader.
  2. One whose beliefs are based upon the teachings and ministry practices of Jesus Christ.
  3. Is a keeper and steward of the resources entrusted to them with the aim of teaching others to do the same.
  4. Is one who places service first; always before leadership.
  5. Is one who engages in a set of practices that enriches the lives of another person
  6. Is one who always places the needs of others before their own.

“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:42-45 ESV

“And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” – Luke 22: 24-30

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” – John 13:12-15

More Thoughts About How to Define Servant Leadership?

In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes these words about becoming a servant leader:

When we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. There is great freedom in this. If we voluntarily choose to be taken advantage of, then we cannot be manipulated. When we choose to be a servant, we surrender the right to decide to when we will serve. We become available and vulnerable.   

Consider the perspective of the slave. The Slave sees all of his life from the viewpoint of slavery. He does not see himself as possessing the same rights as free men and women. Please understand me, when slavery is involuntary it is cruel and dehumanizing. When the slavery is freely chosen, however, everything is changed. Voluntary servitude is a great joy.

The imagery of slavery may be difficult for us, but it was not hard for the apostle Paul. He frequently boasted of his slavery to Christ, making lavish use of the first century concept “Love slave” (that is, the slaves who come out of love, has freely chosen to remain a slave). We do our best to soften Paul’s language by translating the word “slave” as “servant.” But Whatever word we decide to use, let us be certain that we understand that Paul meant he had freely given up his rights.” (Richard J Foster, Celebration of Discipline, Pages 132-133

To Define Servant Leadership Is A Choice

Unlike the “servants” during the slave period in U.S. history, the type of slavery Paul was introducing to the early church was an action of choice.  It was a practice of service that called for the one serving to

  • show humility
  • express grace
  • deflate arrogance
  • focus on the needs of others
  • endure hardship
  • walk away from insults

This type of behavior calls for a life that is willing to grow constantly.  Servant leadership is a labor to God first.

To define servant leadership clearly calls for a daily renewal of commitment.  Servant leadership is not always easy, but it is always rewarding!


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