Servanthood requires the right attitudes and ambitions, not merely the right actions. Playing the part eventually shows itself. Leaders must serve from the inside out. Servanthood begins in the heart.
The Right Attitude
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:5-8)You need a Christ-like attitude to be a servant. Jesus became God in the flesh so He could serve us. -- "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve." (Matt. 20:28)
Jesus willingly submitted to the will of the Father to sacrificially lay down His life .... the ultimate in servanthood.
You need a humble heart willing to submit.
You must rid yourself of pride that can so quickly settle in the hearts of leaders.Leaders, think on these questions:
- What kind of entitlement issues might you be holding onto that prevent you from truly serving others?
- How much is your self-esteem wrapped up in your status or position as a leader?
- How far are you willing to go in serving the people in your sphere of influence?
The Right Ambitions
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Gal. 5:13)You are there to serve people, not yourself. People matter more than programs, agendas, etc. It's not about getting your way but rather what is for the good of everyone.
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matt. 5:44-46)
You are there to serve people by building them up, expressing appreciation and encouragement. It's not about manipulating them with praise to gain their cooperation but rather genuinely seeking to edify others in all you say and do.
You are there to serve all kinds of people, even the unlovable, critical, backstabbers, etc. It's not about what makes you feel good or affirmed but rather loving as Christ served.
You need a grace-filled heart of love that genuinely cares for and values people.
You must rid yourself of personal prejudices and be willing to step out of your comfort zone for others.
Leaders, think on these questions:
- What motivates you as a leader?
- How purposeful are you at acknowledging people in your care?
- How do you treat people that get in your way or seem to oppose you?
The Right Actions
Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Lk. 22:25-27)A servant is not stifling by a need to maintain control but rather open to the contributions of others . . . does not lord it over.
Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Pet. 5:2-3)
A servant is not self-serving but rather selflessly yielding to the opinions of others and not always having to take the credit for what is done . . . does not consider oneself the benefactor.
A servant is not superior but rather meek not feeling it beneath themselves to do menial task or that which someone in a "lesser" position might do . . . does not have to act like the greatest or the one who rules.
A servant is not stingy but rather giving of their time and resources to people . . . does not give begrudgingly or with thought of return.
Acting this way as a leader does not mean you become a doormat, allowing people to take advantage of you. For the sake of your own personal health and God-given responsibilities (i.e., family, spouse), you may need to set some boundaries. -- "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" (1 Tim. 3:5)
Being a servant leader does not mean letting everybody simply "do what is right in their own eyes" as that would only lead to troubles and chaos. Parameters must be provided that work toward the good of the whole and glory to God. We do not serve by seeking to please people but rather God who is the One to whom we are ultimately accountable. -- Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)
Leaders, think on these questions:
- Are you letting others take some initiative, within parameters, or do you feel the need to micro-manage?
- Are you getting others involved in the process or do you feel you know best or need to do it yourself so it is done your way?
- Are you associating and serving alongside of others regardless of their position or status or do you stick with those on par with you?
- Are you truly glad to assist others or do you expect them to do something for you in return?
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