Jesus’ Strong Characteristics as a Powerful Servant Leader

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servant leader and the bibleStrong Characteristics of a Servant Leader

Have you thought about the servant leader styles 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 ES

5 Servant Leadership Styles of Jesus

Jesus had a clear and direct plan for his ministry.  Not only did Jesus teach powerful parables, but he also had a clear and direct plan for his disciples.

In the gospel according to Luke, the author records the leadership styles and strategies of Jesus as it applies to his ministry.

In his account of Christ’s teachings, Luke points out five leadership styles of Jesus for his disciples as they go into the various communities to teach about the Kingdom of God.

1.  Enter a new environment with a positive attitude.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ (Luke 10:5)  How one enters a new environment will determine the success or failure of the effort.  Jesus made it clear to his disciples that they were to enter a new environment with a positive greeting.

2.  Be thankful for what you are offered by those you will lead.

“Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you….” (Luke 10:7)  Showing those we lead that we are thankful for what they bring into the relationship is a healthy start.  There is nothing more discouraging than for someone to think that we do not appreciate what they bring to the table.

3.  Make a commitment to those you are trying to lead.

“Do not move around from house to house.” (Luke 10:7)  Have you ever been in a conversation with someone only to have them look away from you when someone else walked by?  That action says to them that they are not relevant or at least not as important as the person who just walked into the room.  Jesus made sure his disciples understood the value of individuals when he gave this instruction to his disciples.

4.  Use your skills and gifts among people who welcome you.

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9)

Here is another statement of Jesus that emphasizes the value of those who engage us.  When someone welcomes us into a conversation or a relationship with them, it is to be treasured.

5.  Do not waste your time nor your skills on those who are unwilling to be taught.

“But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you.” (Luke 10:10-11)

Often leaders have wasted their time and energy by trying to connect with those who do not want to connect.  All leaders have the ability to choose where they will spend their time.  Investing your energy in an environment that does not welcome you is a waste of time.

These five leadership styles of Jesus that were shared with his disciples can be extremely helpful for anyone who has the responsibility of leading others.

Bible Verses About Jesus and Servant Leader

Are there any good Bible verses about Jesus and his servant leader style?  Have you ever wondered what Jesus taught about service and leadership?

When reading through the New Testament, anyone seeking to grow as a leader can find a great wealth of solid teaching from the Lord.

Jesus had this to say about being a servant,

“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:26)

Here are some more Bible verses about Jesus and his teachings to consider.

A Servant Leader Does Not Have Two Masters

Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

A Servant Leader Must Be Last

Mark 9:35 – Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

A Servant Leader Must Be Humble

Mark 10:35-45 – Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

39 “We can,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

A Servant Leader Sacrifices

Luke 3:10-11 – And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

A Servant Leader is Recognized by Their Actions

Luke 10: 30-37 – Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two [denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

A Servant Leader Seeks the Eternal Over the Temporary

Luke 12:33-34  – Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with money bags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

A Servant Leader Sets an Example

Luke 22:27 – For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

A Servant Leader Puts Pride Aside

John 13:4-17 – so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”…………12 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

A Servant Leader Has Selfless Appreciation for Others

John 15:12  – This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…

As Jesus taught his disciples about servant leadership, he made this statement,

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Servant Leader Principles

Does your organization practice servant leader principles? There are many organizations, volunteer groups, charities, businesses and church congregations that are attempting to grow strong servant leader strategies.  Many of these groups are failing.

The Old Testament book of Genesis tells of personalities that showed servant leadership principles and behaviors that revealed strengths and weakness.

Servant Leader Principles of Noah

What do you know about Noah?  Most people reminder him as a boat builder and the one who saved the animals of earth and his family from a great flood.  However, Noah had a strong leadership quality.  As a leader Noah was sensitive to the direction of God.  The book of Genesis says,

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Genesis 6:22

Noah was sensitive to the directions of God.  This is a quality that many people do not possess.

The Servant Leader Principles of Abraham

In Genesis chapter 14 Abraham shows that a true leader models real servanthood by being obedient to God. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ “ Genesis 14:21-23 Esau Although Noah and Abraham showed some strong character, there are many who find it difficult to be committed to a “calling” or a “purpose.”  This was the case with Esau who was willing to give up his place and birthright to satisfy a momentary need. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.  He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”  “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.”  Genesis 25:29-34

Many people are willing to give up a place of leadership to satisfy a temporary need or desire.  This was the case with Esau.

Servant Leader Principles of Joseph

The story of Joseph is an interesting story.  This story tells the events a man who was sold into slavery by his brothers but through this journey he showed himself to be one of integrity.  Joseph’s servant leadership principles can be found in chapters 39 and 40 of Genesis

Chapter 39

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. 13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Chapter 40

Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.” 12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.” 16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.[a] 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” 18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.” 20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. 23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

 A Few Helpful Servant Leader Styles of the Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul, after his conversion on the Road to Damascus, became an early follower of Christ who copied the leadership style of Jesus.

In his writings and missionary journeys it is obvious that the Apostle became a very influential public and private leader.  The ministry and mission strategies of the Apostle Paul are strongly related to the leadership style of Jesus.

Paul’s Embracing of  Jesus’ Servant Leader Style

When reading the New Testament it is easy to see that Jesus had a clear strategy plan in leading and teaching people.

  1. He used simple stories to tell a powerful truth (Parables).
  2. He taught lessons to a large crowd of people on occasions (the Sermon on the Mount).
  3. He trained and shared his vision and goals to a small group of followers (the Twelve Disciples).

Even though Paul does not use parables in the same way that Jesus did, his writings to Christian believers are strong teaching tools.  Jesus taught in ways that others recorded and wrote down.  Paul taught and led others through letters he wrote to the early Christian church. As many as thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have been attributed to Paul.

Paul also spoke to large crowds of people as Jesus did. One of his teachings to a large gathering can be found in Acts 17:22-31

22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

It can also be noted that Paul was attempting to follow the teaching strategy of Jesus by moving from large gatherings to the recruitment of a handful of people.  This is seen in his missionary work with people like Barnabas, Silas and John Mark.

Teaching and leading “one-on-one” is a challenge for any leader.  It certainly was with Paul.

Paul’s Servant Leader Style Evolved Through Conflict

Paul’s plan to share the Good News showed itself to be a “one-on-one” shared ministry when he aligned himself with another believer.  His first connection was with a Christian believer named Barnabas.

Paul’s plan of working together with someone else follows the leading style of Jesus that is shown in the Gospel of Luke in the creation of teams of two.

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” (Luke 10:1-2)

Barnabas and Paul worked together faithfully for awhile but came to a very abrupt end in their relationship.

Barnabas recruited a young man named John, who Paul seemed to have a problem with (Acts 15:37-39).  This issue caused Paul and Barnabas to go in different directions, which led Paul to recruit another man by the name of Silas (Acts 15:40).

Conflict does not have to be destructive.  In fact, conflict can be a catalyst that produces a progressive effort that could not have been created any other way.

In their disagreement over John, Paul and Barnabas seemingly worked to keep their relationship respectful and focused on spreading the gospel, just in different directions.  In Acts 15:41, Paul is seen as having a fruitful ministry in Syria and Cilicia, while Barnabas headed to Cyrus.

Conflict and disagreement can produce great success if tempers do not get out of control.  These two, Paul and Barnabas, proved that conflict can produce new strategies with powerful results.

The Apostle Paul’s Public and Private Servant Leader Teaching

Acts chapter 20 tells the story of how Paul taught various people in different locations such as Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Miletus and Ephesus.

“We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene.  The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Chios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus.  Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost. From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia.” (Acts 20:13-18)

In Paul’s approach to teaching, he made it clear that he was a follower of the leadership style of Jesus when he said,  “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.”  (Acts 20:20)

Paul’s strategy was one of both public leadership and private leadership.  This was the same strategy of teaching that Jesus used.

Benefits of Both Public and Private Servant Leader Teaching? 

A productive servant leader has some very basic skills that can be applied in both an opened gathering of many people or a small group of a few people.  Here are just a few qualities that the Apostle Paul showed in his teaching and leading skills.

  • A strong servant leader sets high expectations for those they lead.
  • A strong servant leader has a clear objectives and a mission.
  • A strong servant leader is organized.
  • A strong servant leader engages those they lead.
  • A strong servant leader creates healthy relationships with their students and show that they care about them as people.
  • A strong servant leader is confident in what they teach.
  • A strong servant leader communicates often with those they lead.

These practices of Paul were identical to the teaching and leadership style of Jesus.

What do you think about the leadership style of the Apostle Paul?

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader?

What are the basic and genuine principles of a true leader? How does someone know when they are a strong and dynamic leader? There have been many seminars, training courses, and books written about leadership. But how does someone know if they are showing signs and talents of a strong and dynamic leader?  Here are nine principles of a true leader to consider.

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader Shows Responsibility

In any organization, someone is going to have to take responsibility. A true leader is willing to take on responsibility. Even though it may require many hours and a lot of dedication, this person is willing to do it. Responsibility does not produce fear in this type of person. This kind of role for the true leader opens their eyes to possibilities.  This behavior brings us to the next point.

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader Shows No Problem in the Delegation of Responsibility

A real leader is constantly looking for the skills and talents of other people. This leader understands that their abilities are limited. Discovering the gifts and skills of other people is top on the list for this type of leader. This individual knows that the combined resources of diverse personalities are powerful.

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader Shows That They Influence Others

A healthy leader is constantly encouraging others to discover their abilities and gifts. You will never find a true leader coming across in negative tones. In fact, those who have the ability of tremendous leadership are pleasant to be around. Real leaders are extremely active.

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader Shows an Understanding in the Role They Play in the Lives of Others

Someone who is an influential leader understands the role they play in the lives of people. The value of the person ranks high on the list of most important things to a true leader. They understand that their words and their attitude will create or destroy strong teamwork. The business, the organization, and even money do not mean as much to the true leader as the person they have been called to lead. What a leader says, what a leader does, will be a determining factor whether someone wants to be part of the organization or not.

Basic and Genuine Principles of True a Servant Leader Aims to Influence Those Around Them

True leaders are not dictators. True leaders are not bosses. True leaders are not overwhelming personalities that aim to have the upper hand. The goal of strong team leader is to evolve into becoming a positive influence.

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader Shows a Person Who is Always Learning

One becomes a true leader by being involved in learning. This learning takes place wherever and when it can be engaged. This type of personality never gets to a point in their life at which they feel they have accomplished it all. A true leader is a seeker. They are like someone that is on a constant treasure hunt. Even when they find a great treasure, they will soon be looking for a better discovery.

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader Shows Them as a Great Communicator

Someone who is seeking to be a productive leader will also be someone who works hard in the development of their communications skills. The ability to communicate one on one is a strong skill of a true leader.

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader Shows an Understanding That They are Not Self-made

Pride and arrogance are not characteristics of a great leader. This individual understands that the reason that they have the abilities that they do is because they have learned the skills from someone else. They are not self-made, and they know it. In fact, this type of personality would never make such a claim.

Basic and Genuine Principles of a True Servant Leader Shows That They are Always in the Process of Learning

Finally, a true leader is always in the process of learning. The learning process never stops. It never ceases. It goes on and on, and they are never bored with it. Those who have the skills of true leadership see it as a constant evolutionary process.

What kind of leader are you?

Are you a “true leader?”

The Apostle Paul wrote these words in Phillipians 2:3.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…”

Here are some additional Bible verses that can help in the development of leadership skills.

“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to youIf you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” ~ Luke 6:30-32

Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.  Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.  But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.” ~ Exodus 18:19-22

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant. Matthew 20:26

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

What would you add to these basic principles for leadership development

Social Networking and Leadership Characteristics of Jesus as a Servant Leader

Social networking has become a phrase that is being used in just about every organization.  Whether it involves volunteers, employees or those who belong to a religious group, social networking is an active part of those teams.

What Is Social Networking? 

Many refer to social networking as the grouping together of individuals into a particular group for a defined cause.  Some rural communities and city neighborhoods have possessed the qualities of a social network for some time, they only did not give it a title.  Here is a simple definition of the term:

  • Social =  The involving of allies who are marked by a strong companionship with friends or associates. It is an attempt to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others.
  • Networking = The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions that cultivate productive relationships.

Jesus Christ and Social Networking

Jesus created social networking thousands of years ago!  There may be those who think this is a new concept.  However, Christ was building cooperative relationships in the first century.  If social networking is based on a progressive structure that encourages people to both express their individuality and exchange similar interests, then Jesus was leading his disciples to do just that. This action is exactly what Jesus did when he recruited his diverse group of followers.

There can be thousands of words used to define a social network.  However, there are three words that can help identify how Jesus created his social network:

  1. friends
  2. group
  3. discussion

By no means do these three words give the full scope of what Jesus was doing in recruiting his disciples into an active social group but it is a start.


All four of the first disciples, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John were from a common background with a joint occupation.  They were all fishermen!  Social networking recognizes common similarities among people.  This recognition is what makes an organization strong.  This behavior is what made the recruitment of the first four of Christ’s disciple such a good choice.  Jesus did not pick these disciples by random choice.  It was evident that he had a purpose and reason in the calling of his first four followers.

If you talk to anyone today who has an opinion about social networks they will tell you that these organizations are built best around friends. That does not mean that they are  always called “friends.” In fact, a social network like Linkedin, a business-oriented social network, refers to the group as a “connection” not “friends.”

Friends are trusted members of the social network that are often allowed to do things that non-friends are not authorized to do.  Jesus said to his disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Social networking can be defined by many words, however, “friend” is one of the strongest and clearest definitions.


Growing groups are a good way to meet people with similar interest.   This behavior is what happened with the recruitment of the disciples of Jesus.  There were at least 12 men who were interested enough in the teachings of Christ that they were willing to leave their present occupations and engage in a three-year journey of following Jesus.

A social network creates a group that is interested in a particular topic or subject.  There was no doubt that this group of men were very interested in Christ, as a group.  The first four fishermen left their occupation, Matthew; the tax collector left his job, Simon the Zealot left his militant call and there were six other men of various occupations that were interested enough in Jesus to follow him.

The men who created this “group” intended to find out more about the person of Jesus.  This action is what a social network is all about.  A unified effort, a grouping, to discover more.


This one word, discussion, can explain a social network and at the same time, it can define what Jesus Christ was all about.  In the New Testament, there are many occasions where Jesus engaged others in discussion, asked their opinions and allowed them to share their thoughts and ideas.  On one occasion, there arose a discussion as to what people were saying about Jesus.  Jesus turned to the disciples and asked, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

Some people may think that social networking is about Facebook, Twitter, websites, and blogs.  These resources certainly have the ability to engage, converse, and respond but this type of behavior was being practiced by Jesus long before the invention of the computer, internet and website technology.  The Kingdom of God is built upon the principle of connecting with those who do not know about Jesus and the sharing of the Gospel.  This behavior is not to reduce Christ to a modern-day term. It is to elevate our understanding of God’s desire to communicate with mankind.

How to Save Servant Leadership From the Seduction of Power

How do you encourage servant leadership styles within your organization, business or congregation?

I recently pulled a book out of my library entitled Leading Edge by Robert Dale. While scanning through the book I came across a section in chapter 2 entitled the “Seduction of Power.”

Power Over Servanthood

Dale points out one of the temptations of Jesus as a lesson in dealing with leadership power over servant-leadership. In the Gospel account of Matthew, Christ was urged to bow down to Satan and become ruler of all the kingdoms of the world.

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”  (Matthew 4:1-11)

This temptation of Jesus set the stage for Jesus’ ministry on earth.  What Jesus said in just a few words is the foundation for servant leadership.

Jesus had the ability to do anything he wished to do.  However, when he was tempted in the wilderness he made it clear to the Tempter that his intention was to “worship the Lord…and serve him only.”

Christ refused to let power override his role as a servant leader.

Compromising With Evil to Gain Power

Leaders are tempted on a regular basis to compromise to evil forces in order to reach their goals, power, or status.  Chuck Lawless wrote,

Think about the bait that the Enemy offered Eve in the Garden.  “You will be like God, knowing good and evil,” he said (Genesis 3:5)  There apparently was (and is) something powerful about the promise of gaining knowledge, especially knowledge that someone else has but you do not.  Knowledge gives us a sense of power and control.  It is no wonder, then, that the writer of Proverbs describes the words of a gossip as “choice morsels”  that stimulate a desire for more (Proverbs 18:8, NIV) (Dr. Chuck Lawless,  Disciple Warriors, Kregel Publications)

Every person will have to make a choice about their place in life.  Power can corrupt our ability to spiritually connect with God’s plan.  The challenge to avoid being self-centered is one that has been around since the Garden of Eden.

The Behavior of  Servant Leadership Styles

Many times leaders come to the conclusion that for success to take place shortcuts must be made. Moral goals cannot be accomplished by immoral behavior. So, what exactly is true servant leadership behavior all about?

Robert Dale shares this quote,

“Robert Greenleaf’s classic book, Servant Leadership opens with a powerful story. A group of persons are on a journey. Leo, a servant, accompanies the party and, while performing menial chores, sing songs and keeps the group’s spirits up. The trip goes well until Leo disappears. Then, the group falls into disarray …… The group simply cannot proceed without the servant Leo. One member of the group searches for years and at long last locates Leo. To his surprise, Leo, whom the searcher has only known as a servant, is actually the leader of the organization that sponsored the group’s journey in the first place.

The leader is servant first—-that’s the moral of Greenleaf story ………”

A Good Translation of  Servant Leadership Styles

In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes these words about becoming servant leadership styles,

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

Servant Leadership Styles Are 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 or 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, and next, his most loved creation, mankind.

This type of living, servant leadership, calls for a daily renewal of commitment.  It is not always easy, but it is always rewarding!

What Are the 22 Characteristics of A Strong Servant Leader

What are the characteristics of a good strong servant leader?

Strong servant leaders know that the greatest call placed upon them is to invest in other people. There is no company, no organization, and no project that is more important than those who are under our guidance. The soul of a strong leader and the mind of a healthy manager know this to be true.

Here are the 22 characteristics of a strong leader.

1. Vision Over Version

The “vision” of the leader should always be clear and easy to understand.  “Vision” is being able to see something that does not exist in the minds of others.  It is not a copy. “Vision” is about knowing where you can see your team or organization headed.  It is not a duplicate of what someone else has invented.  It is not another version of another person’s good idea. Vision is being able to see where you’re going!  It produces the ability to see what’s up ahead.  This must be done in both a literal and figurative sense.

2. People Over Programs

Too often groups, businesses, and churches allow their organizations to take on more life than the people that make up the group.  The system means more than the individuals.  This will kill any team effort.  Without the unique input of different people into an organization, it will have little creativity and a great deal of stagnation.  Personalities must mean more than the program.

3. Strengths Over Weaknesses

One of the greatest first steps any organization can take is to discover the strength of those who make up the group.  This discovery will call for the team leaders to take their time in coming to know those who are part of the team.  What is each individual good at doing? What are the weaknesses of each member?  This will take effort to learn but it is well worth every minute invested. Many organizations have found that the frustration level of those in their group were caused by asking them to do something that they simply did not have the skills or desire to accomplish.  This does not mean that they need to be fired or replaced.  It simply means that they will be much stronger in an area in which they are gifted.

4. Influence Over Authority

Many leaders often throw their weight around or flex their muscles to prove who is in charge.  Influence has much more power than authority, however, it must be earned.  True leadership cannot be forced upon anyone.

5. Example Over Policy

Real leaders teach by example not by policy.  Every organization needs some policy design but getting people to work together is never accomplished by a set of rules.  Someone is going to have to lead the way and set an example.  This action falls right in line behind “influence over authority” and “people over programs.”

6. Inspiration Over Instructions

A strong team leader understands the process to mentally stimulating others. The process of inspiring is not accomplished by lists of instructions.  Inspiring others calls for a personal touch.

7. Empowerment Over Control

A good leader is comfortable in releasing control and allowing others to sense a level of trust in their own abilities and skills.

8. Origination Over Duplication

The drive of strong leadership is to help hunt down original ideas.  A healthy leader does not desire copying or duplicating someone else.  Another major goal of a strong leader is to inspire originality.

9. Release Over Control

A productive leader does not have to be in control.  Control is a very unnatural behavior for a true leader.  A true leader does care who gets the credit or who is in charge.  The desire of this individual is to be sure the job gets completed.

10. Simplicity Over Complexity

For the leader, being simple is the goal. Their overall desire is to be understood.

11. Proactive Over Reactive

Proactive means creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it!  Reactive means acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it!

Being proactive is about creating rather than responding.  The healthy soul of a leader always desires creation over response.

12. Experiments Over Stagnation

When I was in high school I made the mistake of diving into some stagnant water after working on a friend’s farm for the day.  It was a major mistake. I was sick for three days.  Stagnation is not good for anyone. It is much better to try something different than to be unmoving and unchanging.

13. Rethinking Over Reorganizing

Many times a group will reorganize the structure of a team without any thought at all. Restructuring of any organization without knowing “why” is simply a bad idea.  Think it through then reorganize.  Don’t ever reorganize before you have asked the question, “Why are we doing this?”

 14. Motives Over Methods

There are many great ideas out there that do not have a clear motive.  Lot’s of things look good on paper.  They may even look good to other people.  But what is the motive. “Why?”  That is a good three-letter question.

 15. Equality Over Hierarchy

Is every member of our team worth something?  Do you see the value of the quiet one in the crowd?  Does the opinion of every person on the team have value?  Many groups fail because they do not see the value of every individual on the team.  This type of behavior is destructive.  It is explosive!

 16. Optimism Over Skepticism

The negative leader cannot expect positive results.  A strong leader must constantly convey a positive spirit of optimism.  Why would any of us want to follow someone who is negative?

 17. Art Over Science

Art is all about creativity.  Science is about “the facts.”  If any organization does not allow the artistic people in the group to express himself or herself, chances are, some treasures will never be found.

 18. Dreaming Over Doubting

Doubting does not seem to be hard to come by.  In fact, doubting seems to come relatively easy for most people.  Many organizations surpass the “dreamers” kind of like they discourage the “artistic” (look at number 18 again).  Artistic people and dreamers are extremely powerful resources for any organization.  Some people just don’t believe it!

 19. Potential Over Performance

Potential is like a treasure lying beneath the ground. Sometimes you have to dig deep.  When it is all said and done, potential is the fuel for any type of successful performance.  If potential is not sought out in a team, then it is like a musician that is fully capable of hitting the right note (performance) but is incapable of causing all the notes to flow together for a melodious sound (potential).

 20. Satisfaction Over Compensation

There will be many people who live out their life and make a great deal of money but will never come to a point of personal satisfaction.  Compensation for a job does not completely satisfy.  A strong leader will encourage those he/she works with to discover that “thing” in life that brings them the most joy.

 21. Long Term Goals Over Short Term Goals

Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  The soul of a strong leader knows this!  If these principles are to be accomplished, it will take time.  They cannot be rushed.

22. Evolutionary Thinking Over An Unchanging Agenda

A strong leader is constantly thinking, dreaming and looking into the future.  The healthy leader is constantly looking for something that does not exist.

What kind of leader are you?

Do you have any of these 22 characteristics of a strong leader?

Never forget, “There is no company, no organization, and no project that is more important than those who have been placed under our leadership.”

Being a Servant Leader The Right Way

I recently pulled a book out of my library entitled Leading Edge by Robert Dale. While scanning through the book I came across a section in chapter two entitled the “Seduction of Power.

In this chapter, Dale points out the second temptation of Jesus. His temptation was to bow down to Satan and become ruler of all the kingdoms of the world.

Leaders are attempted to compromise to evil forces in order to reach their goals. Many times leaders come to the conclusion that for success to take place shortcuts must be made.

Moral goals cannot be accomplished by immoral behavior. So, what exactly is true leadership? Robert Dale explains it this way,

“Robert Greenleaf’s classic book, Servant Leadership opens with a powerful story.

A group of persons are on a journey. Leo, a servant, accompanies the party and, while performing menial chores……keeps the group’s spirits up. The trip goes well until Leo disappears. Then, the group falls into disarray…….. The group simply cannot proceed without the servant Leo. One member of the group searches for years and at long last locates Leo. To his surprise, Leo, whom the searcher has only known as a servant, is actually the leader of the organization that sponsored the group’s journey in the first place. The leader is servant first—-that’s the moral of Greenleaf story ………”

What do you think about the idea of the leader of an organization being a servant?

Does the phrase servant-leadership make sense?

Jesus, in his teachings, encouraged all his followers to become a servant leader.

Dale Roach

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