Servant Leadership

 

Lead By ExampleI’ve experienced this “different style of leadership” recently. It is a leadership style that puts the person leading in a role that seeks to serve the very people he/she is charged with leading. It is way different than the standard “dictatorial leadership” that I’ve seen the most often over the years. This style of leadership features a leader with empathy, understanding, boldness, gentleness, love, respect & competency all wrapped up in one person. I see servant leadership as investing. I also see servant leadership “coming alongside” instead of “top down” barking orders. Servant leaders are not necessarily “push-overs” either. Servant leaders are on a mission that is crystal clear to them. They have a different road map to get the job done and they seem to enjoy the journey while leading.

I came across a passage of scripture that I’ve noticed many times before, but I saw it a bit differently this morning. Jesus knows that His time here on earth as a human teacher is just about up. He is getting ready to have dinner with His team of leaders/disciples one last time before He’s betrayed. Check this out…

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:12-17; 34-35 NLT)

Servant leaders lead by example.

Servant leaders care about the people they are charged with leading.

Servant leaders create excellent culture in the place they are charged with leading.

Servant leaders create a “serving culture” with their company’s clients & customers.

Servant leaders bring empowerment to their team by example and investment.

Jesus set the example of servant leadership. He came to serve instead of being served, yet He was the “highest ranking individual” on the planet. I am inspired to lead like this. I am more of a “door holder” than a “door mat”. I want to motivate and inspire others to lead by serving. My career as a REALTOR is really a servant leadership profession. I should never approach my clients/friends and customers with a “know-it-all” attitude, but rather a teaching/serving spirit. I think any workplace and profession benefits and excels under servant leadership.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Leadership Succession

businesswoman drawing plan of AuditSometimes when everything rises and falls upon a particular leader the entire organization can possibly be at risk. Some leaders are “larger than life” in their organization. In some organizations the leader is the founder, CEO, President – he is large and in charge because after all, this was his baby.

Moses, the man who started out in a troublesome way with his life threatened by the King of Egypt to being rescued/adopted by the daughter of the very King who threatened his life. He goes on to flee for his life after killing an Egyptian because the Egyptian was beating one of his countrymen. This guy became the leader of the Israelite nation. He served as a servant leader of the Lord. He was the equivalent of our President, a King, or a Prime Minister. The Lord gave him a heads up that he was about to go up onto a mountain to see the Promised Land, but then he would die. Check this out….

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 ‘May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.’

18 So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him. 19 Make him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so that the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by enquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.’ (Numbers 27:15-21 NIV)

This leadership succession was not about Moses or even Joshua – it was about the work of the Lord that was ahead. The Lord God was leading this people and He was building into this man named Joshua. Joshua has “The Spirit of Leadership” which is a gift of the Lord. I believe leadership can be a skill that is taught, but I also believe leadership to be a gift from the Lord. It was not an accident that Joshua had already seen the land that they were about to possess. He was one of the spies who spoke valiantly about how they could take the land some 40 years earlier. I love the fact that Moses did not make this moment about him. He drew attention to the Lord and made this moment about serving the Lord.

I believe all godly leaders have a responsibility not only to the people they lead, but to the Lord Himself. I believe that leaders should not make leadership about them, but about the people they are leading. Leadership is ultimately a servant position is God’s economy. A leader is merely the “lead servant”. The succession of leadership comes down to attitude of service and the call of leadership. I’m thankful for so many leaders in my life that have demonstrated servant leadership. This makes leadership succession so much smoother and it’s the honorable and godly way that leadership succession should happen.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Shared Leadership

Leadership iconI’ve grown up under leadership from all sorts of people. I remember my home church had two elders for a long time then at some point added a third. The Elders were given the spiritual oversight of the church. The Preacher/Pastor shared a lot of leadership responsibility with the Elders. The Deacons were also part of the leadership team. The other churches I served were set up pretty much the same. It hit me one day that this is really not what the Lord had in mind when He started the church. Sometimes in many church situations there is a power struggle instead of a serving contest. People really want a position instead of seeking a posture of service.

Our church leadership often looks like our nations leadership. The Pastor is the President – the Elders are the Senators – the Deacons are the Representatives. I’m guessing that the Trustees are the Supreme Court. This is not what the Lord intended for His Church.

Moses was the main leader of Israel and it was getting too much for him to handle. So the Lord gave him instructions on getting help. Check this out…

16 The Lord said to Moses: ‘Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Make them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone. (Numbers 11:16-17 NIV)

There are times that leadership is incredibly hard to carry. They decisions that must be weighed out sometimes weigh the leader down. I believe it’s wise for every leader to have close counsel to help see things from different angles that might be missed otherwise. There are some leaders who “know it all” or so they think and they will often stumble with some pretty important decisions. As I started leading others, I often feel incredibly unqualified to lead and then I study the teachings of Jesus and realize that is really one of the first qualifications is realizing that it’s not about me – it’s about serving others with my life. If I’m leading at my church, I’m under the leadership of the Lord obviously, but also the Elders and Pastor. I think one of the biggest roadblocks to godly leadership is ego. I remember when I preached my first message many years ago and it was when the preacher went to the back door to shake hands as people left. People felt obligated to tell me what a good job I had done (whether it was good or not). A wise minister told me not to believe all the stuff people said about me to my face because they might just be saying something else behind my back. There was wisdom in that.

A leader simply can’t please everyone who is following. There are times when a decision has to be made and I think it’s prudent to gather as much information as you can regarding all sides of the decision and then make a decision based on the best information you have at the time. If it turns out to be a mistake – own it – correct it and move on. Leaders aren’t perfect but they usually have a strong human spirit.

As I’ve grown older, I believe the Lord has been building wisdom and discernment into my heart. I want to understand before I’m understood. I want The Lord’s Wisdom to guide my path and be the key component of my decisions. I share leadership with others, but most importantly I share leadership with the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Set Apart

Royal Gold CrownI sometimes think it’s crazy to think of being born into royalty. For example the British Royals didn’t do anything to become the reigning family in England. Their ancestors certainly did something years ago to put their family in leadership. But ever since February 1952 Queen Elizabeth II has been the reigning monarch in England. Her son Charles is the heir and then after him, his son. They did nothing to earn this title or position; they inherited it.

When God was giving structure to the Israelite nation, He begins by counting the people and giving them instructions regarding where their family is to camp. He takes one of the sons of Israel and sets him and his descendants apart to serve the Lord. Moses and Aaron were direct descendants of Levi. So the Lord takes the family of Levi and directs them to be the spiritual leaders of the entire nation. The kids born into Levite family automatically became part of the leadership lineage. Levi had 3 sons and each family was given a spot to camp near the tabernacle. They covered the north, south and west. Moses and Aaron and their family have a special place. Check this out…

38 Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east of the tabernacle, towards the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death. (Numbers 3:38 NIV)

The Lord uses a leadership structure throughout scripture. In the Old Testament, He uses Moses and Aaron to set up the priesthood. They and their family –the Levites, were in charge of the spiritual leadership of the entire nation. The tabernacle was to be a sacred place of worship – a place where God would dwell among them. The Levite family was responsible for handling the set up and tear down of the tabernacle everywhere they went. Their family was set apart to serve the Lord for generations to come.

A Crown Of ThornsFast-forward to the New Testament and the Lord is still using a leadership structure. Jesus chose 12 men to invest in and train. These men became the formative leaders of the church. It was not a group of men that I would have chosen because they were regular ordinary people. Some were fishermen, there was a tax collector among them and not much is known about the others occupations. Jesus saw something in them and He used them to usher in a different type of leadership – servant leadership. He told them that the secret to greatness is serving. I believe that Christ followers should all be servant leaders. It’s not a position to be held, but a ministry to do. Serving should permeate the heart of Christ followers. Our serving spirit comes from the deep love and devotion we have to the One Who loved us first and taught us to serve by example. I believe that all Christ followers are set-apart to serve other through love and relationship. It’s our calling – our DNA. I’m actually part of a royal calling because of my position in Christ. I didn’t earn this position – He earned it for me and bestowed it on me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

2-4-6-8 Delegate

3D Leadership CrosswordI worked in ministry for several years with a good man who taught me much about life and ministry. He used to remind me that I could be much more effective when I learned to delegate some tasks and then focus my attention on other tasks. He used to say: “2-4-6-8 we must learn to delegate”! I never forgot that saying or the principle inside it. There are things I can do that I can’t let others do for me, but there are several things that I do in my day-to-day business that I can hand off to someone else. The person I “hand off” too can be a volunteer, co-worker, staff person or I may have to figure out a way to hire to that particular need.

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro observed Moses work load and spoke right into Moses about a different style of leadership. He gave Moses some sound advice that would keep him from burnout and would also serve the people more efficiently. Check this out…

The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 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. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 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. 22 Let them serve as judges for the people at all times, but let 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. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.’ (Exodus 18:18b-23 NIV)

I see so much wisdom in what Jethro shared with Moses. I also see that the advice was given in humility and with deep concern for Moses as well as the people Moses’ was serving. I believe Jethro may have been the first “time management guru”! There are some solid principles inside this small passage:

  • Teach the people instruct them in detail.
  • Select capable leaders from the group to lead.
  • Serve others in leadership is the call placed upon them.
  • Share the load of leadership.
  • Satisfaction comes when servant leadership is working properly.

I remember a quote from Andy Stanley who said: “Play to your strengths and hire to your weakness”. Leadership is tough sometimes because I sometimes like all the things I do, but I could be so much more effective if I could learn the art of delegation. Moses’ obviously displayed such a servant leadership heart that the people responded immediately and they were happy to give him the help he needed. The people waiting in line to see him, now were served much more efficiently and he actually could make it home for dinner with his family! I’m still learning to delegate as I seek to serve the very people I find myself leading.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Lead On!

3D Leadership CrosswordThere are times when I’ve been frustrated with the people who are my leaders. This applies to church leaders, community leaders, state leaders and even national leaders. There are times I’ve been disappointed in their decisions or their logic. I think some people get leadership confusion with power. Leadership does bring with it a certain amount of authority. Power seems to bring pride into the picture and power really screws things up. Power often corrupts leaders. Leaders should always make decisions based on what is best for the people they are leading as well as themselves.

It’s interesting that while Jesus was here on the earth, the religious leaders did not believe in Him. They really had a hard time when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Here was living, breathing, “walking around proof” of Jesus authority and power over death. They just weren’t sure what to do with him. Check this out…

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:42-46 NIV)

Leadership should not be about the praise of men. It should be about leading others to make good decisions and live honorable lives. Leadership in God’s economy should be about leading people to a saving relationship with God.  I want to lead others from a place of following. I want to lead by example. I want to see others become full-on followers of Jesus. I want others to seek the praise and blessing from God rather than their fellow humans. Fame is fickle and fleeting, but honor and blessing from God is eternal. I’m going for the honor and blessing of God on my life. I really don’t care if I’m known by men or not – what really matters is does the Lord know me.

Pressing On!
Dwayne