For the one year anniversary of my arrival at Naval Air Station Meridian, a guest preacher, an ordained retired Navy Chief, filled the pulpit for me. His text was Mark 10:44-45 ~
“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.”
So Chief’s sermon was about servant leadership, and the 7 qualities of a servant leader:
- A servant works to please God regardless of the consequences.
Ultimately, our service is not about our own greatness. That’s the paradox of Jesus’s statement on greatness. The disciples desired greatness. Jesus said, “If you want greatness, humble yourself.” You see, servant leadership serves for a purpose outside of the self. The disciples approached life with a “What’s in it for me?” mentality. That kind of thinking limits our service because we have our eye on the end result. If negative consequences are in the future, we won’t serve. The authentic servant leader works to please God regardless of the outcome.
- A servant positions himself/herself daily to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Since pleasing God is the goal of the genuine servant leader, we must align ourselves with God on the regular. How can you know which way to walk if you’re walking your own path? When we position ourselves to follow Jesus, we don’t have to be concerned with developing the path – we walk His.
- A servant understands we may never see an earthly reward.
Earthly rewards are nice, but if you’re in it for the reward you’re still in the “What’s in it for me?” mentality. When we serve for God’s sake, God’s glory is the ultimate goal. It doesn’t matter if we receive accolades or rewards. I’m reminded of every great preacher and theologian I’ve ever heard or read. My thought always comes back to, “Who was it that introduced this person to Jesus?” While the famous preacher/theologian gets the recognition, the person who started them on their spiritual path often gets none. But look at the fruit of their labor! Because of their service, unknown numbers hear the gospel. We serve for God’s glory, not our own.
- A servant understands that everything he/she is and has needs to be yielded to God.
Since we serve for God’s glory and at God’s pleasure, everything we have and are need to be surrendered to God. This isn’t about you! If you think it’s ever about you, you’re in the wrong line of work. Being a servant leader is never about the self. Since it’s ultimately about God, the servant leader surrenders everything to God. The right attitude says, “This is who I am and what I have – I give it back to you to use for your purposes.”
- A servant will be ready to walk alone.
When we follow a higher calling, we’re going to have people walk away from us. Some will fail to understand what it is we’re doing. Some will flat out reject what we’re doing. The servant role isn’t the popular role. It’s not the role that wins positions of power and the head seat at the table. While influence and power might be the result of authentic servant leadership, it’s never the goal. Genuine servant leadership is unattractive to many because it calls us to place others first. That’s hard to do, but it’s a path we need to be ready to take.
- A servant sacrifices for others.
The Bible has multiple examples about putting the needs and desires of others ahead of the self. The Apostle Paul said, “Consider others as MORE IMPORTANT than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). And the ultimate example is that of Christ, who sacrificed EVERYTHING for the world. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We didn’t earn his sacrifice – he offered it. Thus…
- A servant is never greater than the Master.
It’s kind of hard to even contemplate the servant being greater than the Master when the Master gave everything in His service. In the military and law enforcement we see examples of men and women who will sacrifice themselves for the sake of their battle buddies – the Marine who jumps on a grenade, the cop who gets shot while dragging a partner out of harm’s way. We (rightly) hold such individuals in a place of honor – self-sacrifice like that is too rare. But Jesus died even for messed up people. Jesus died for his enemies. His sacrifice has no equal. And if Jesus was willing to sacrifice for everyone, are we too good to attempt the same?
As Christ-followers we’re called to be servant leaders to this world. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, or where you’re going. This is a call upon all of our lives.
Are you willing to step up and answer the call?