Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Servant Leadership

We as Christians are called to be servants. We are also called to be leaders. The two come together in the concept of servant leadership. My definition of a servant leader is a leader whose purpose is to serve those who follow him/her. Two stories in the bible strike me with their example of servant leadership. Then I have an experience to share with you about application of servant leadership.

Example 1. In Genesis chapter 13 we have the story of Abram and Lot living together. Abram is the leader of the clan, but when both Abram and Lot became too numerous for the land to support, quarrelling broke out between the two clans. (This is now my paraphrase of the story; I will add stuff for the sake of emphasis. It did not actually happen quite this way.) Abram being the leader summons Lot to his office. He explains the situation to Lot and informs Lot of Abram’s decision that the two must separate. Since Abram is the leader then Abram gets to choose, who goes where. Abram’s choice is to let Lot decide.

You will notice, Lot does not reciprocate on the generosity of Abram. Lot looks at the options and takes the best land. Abram does not get upset and renig on his generous offer. He does not take away Lot’s right to decide. He allows Lot to take the best land. God does, in this case, settle the score Himself. He blesses Abram’s clan and sattles Lot with Sodom and Gomorrah.

Example 2. John chapter 13 tells us, Jesus knew He had come from the Father and was going back to the Father so He wrapped a towel around His waist and washed the disciples’ feet. Imagine that. Jesus knowing that He is God and knowing that He was headed to the cross for the redemption of mankind: does an incredible act of servitude for the diciples. Not, hey give me glory for who I am and what I am about to do. No. Just another selfless and humble act of service. Servant Leadership demonstrated to the maximum, in my humble opinion.

Experience. The Evangelism Committee decided to do a random act of kindness in the name of Jesus. We went to a local park on a Saturday morning and handed out water bottles for free to the walkers, joggers, and runners. We did so in the name of Jesus not in the name of our church. Those who stopped to talk with us usually asked us what church we were from, so we did get to advertise our church as well.

One gentleman came by and said he was not interested in buying water. We told him it was our free gift to him with no obligations. He lit up like a Christmas tree. He went on and on about how great it was for us to give up our Saturday morning and hand out water to strangers. He was very thirsty and greatly appreciated the drink. He went on his way around the park path. While he was gone our leader decided to take some pictures of the group. As he reapproached our area, he noticed our leader getting ready to take the picture. He rushed up and energetically offered his “service” to take the picture so that the leader could be in it also. The leader kindly refused to let him take the picture. He made another plea to help, emphasizing that the leader needed to be in the picture too. The leader adamantly refused the help. The man was crestfallen. You could just see all the energy and enthusiasm that was in him disappear. He left us in a more depressed state than when he came upon us at first. All the good we had done was undone and more by the leader refusing to allow him to serve us.

The moral to the story is that while we are servants, we must also not be above being served. Therefore, if someone offers you their service for something we should find a way to accept it, so that they may be servants of Jesus Christ to us.

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