There’s a theory in business called servant leadership. That theory was first proposed by Robert Greenleaf in 1970 when he wrote, ““The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.” The business world has spent decades trying to implement the theory into real practice but it’s difficult to do, because it seems to go against our me first culture. What I find most intriguing is that as a Christian I realize that the concept of servant leadership is about 2,000 years old. Jesus told us that we must be servants and be ready to serve others. So, what does it mean to be of service to others and how can we practice it?
There’s an interesting question, because if we’re a Christian it really can’t be all about me, it has to be about others. In Matthew 20 20-28 Jesus is faced with just this situation. “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to [a]Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. Now she’s a good mom, looking out for her sons, so Jesus responded to her – And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She *said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” Now at this point she’s pretty much becoming like a lot of modern parents, demanding that their children be placed above everyone else, after all they’re special aren’t they? But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They *said to Him, “We are able.” The boys are feeling a little cocky aren’t they, because they don’t ever really have any idea what they’re agreeing to. That happens a lot in the modern business world, people are so anxious for power and prestige that they say they can handle anything and everything. The reality is, they have no idea what’s ahead for them or what will be asked of them. Now back to our story. He *said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” This is kind of ironic because both would eventually become martyrs and die for following Christ. However, he told them in no uncertain terms that it was up to the father as to who would get the big promotion. Now of course this upset the rest of the disciples and being normal human beings they groused about it.
And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. The guys had a very normal reaction, I’ve seen it happen in many businesses and in academic settings. People get tired of watching and listening to others whine and complain and then getting ahead because frankly people are just exhausted from listening to them. The organization then becomes top heavy and nobody is really caring about anyone else, it’s that all about me syndrome. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” In other words Jesus is telling them and us how to do it, put other people ahead of ourselves, and make sure we take care of them.
In the modern world, we can do this by listening to their concerns, hear them, don’t just nod, ask questions, make the conversation real. Interact with the person, it’s called active listening, once we understand what’s going on then we can show empathy, not sympathy, but empathy. It’s important to realize and accept what they’re going through, don’t try to solve every problem or ignore the issue and hope it goes away. We must show that we are aware. Paying attention to others is a sign of someone who really wants what’s best for another.
Once we are aware of the issues, once we prove that we have a commitment to help others then we have made progress on being a servant leader. It then become easier to persuade others to take action. When others see us practicing what we preach, when they see us putting others ahead of ourselves, then they too can begin to move forward. It at this time that we begin to really build a community. It does not matter if we are a leader in a church, a business, a classroom; where we lead is not important it’s how we lead that is. Our duty is to make others better, to help them achieve their goals in life. As a Christian, we are called upon to emulate Jesus, and that means serving others. For some reason, many modern Christians have forgotten that in a lust for gold and silver.
Remember the story of the rich man in Mark 10:17-22, “17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” How many of us spend our time focusing on money and forgetting those less fortunate? This nation has millions of people homeless, in prisons, in hospitals and yet we go on our merry way, not caring. It’s time we started being servants to those around us, if we do then we will see a major change in the world and how things happen.
That’s going to do it for this episode, thank you for joining me, please tell your friends about the show.
Let’s close with a prayer. Dear heavenly father, please help me learn to put others ahead of myself. Help me learn to be a servant in the manner you need me to be. I understand that as my time here on earth is short I naturally want to put myself first, and that’s not what you want from me. Thank you for your son and thank you for each day in which you give me life. Amen
Ok, that’s it until next time, God Bless y’all and be kind to each other.