Photo by Peter McMurray
Servant leadership is exercising real and godly leadership like God did to accomplish His purpose and His plan. You are to unselfishly serve others while also influencing and encouraging them to grow toward Christ in a purposeful direction.
People who are servant leaders are typically the managers who do the work of the Lord by being like how the Lord calls us to be. They realize that servant leadership is not about them or their gifts and personality, but it is about each person bearing fruit to serve one another in Christ.
Multiple books have been written about this topic, and workshops have been conducted in order for people to learn how to practice servant leadership in various religious and secular settings. The origin of servant leadership is debated by many writers, but some people argue that the concept of this type of leadership is taken straight out of the New Testament where Jesus said to His disciples, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42–45).
Servant leadership is important in church because God calls us to serve. Service needs to be firmly rooted and practiced in order for Christians to be truly authentic.
This idea of servant leadership is not held strictly just to churches, because major corporations benefit by practicing this method of leadership. Servant leadership is found in the Bible (Matthew 20:25–28, John 13:1–17, Acts 20:35, Ephesians 6:7–8, Colossians 3:23–24). Many famous companies such as Zappos, Nordstrom, Whole Foods Market and Starbucks have adopted the ways of servant leadership as well.
Servant leadership in church and in business can join together for the better because many Christians are only strong on Sundays, but the using servant leadership can help bring the Christian religion and spirituality into the workplace. By focusing on serving people, and not just making money, the message of God can be seen and even talked about in the workplace.
All in all, servant leadership is done by serving others and possibly influencing them to worship God. Servant leadership is a topic that often is debated, but even if people do not agree about the best ways to be a servant leader, they likely will benefit from trying to be a servant leader. In church, believers of Christ are called to serve others for Him, and the practice of servant leadership obeys that calling.
Sarah Burgener is a student at Greenville University.5