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Upside-Down Leadership

9 years ago written by

llm-nov14_foundationAs the world cheers us on to do more, be more, take more and get more, Scripture mandates a different kind of leadership for Christians and church leaders. The Bible, through the example of Jesus, exemplifies Christian leaders living lives of service, sacrifice and submission.

Want to be great? We are taught that to be great in God’s economy, we must be willing to serve others. Jesus admonishes the disciples: “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others” (Matthew 20:26–28 NLT).

That turns our thoughts of leadership upside down. While many contemporary leaders model self-indulgence and self-promotion, the Bible teaches humility and sacrifice. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above ourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

Jesus spells out the life of sacrifice: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

The self-thoughts advocated in Scripture are actually of self-denial and sacrifice. Scripture reveals Jesus’ revolutionary leadership of service, sacrifice and radical submission: “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me” (John 8:28).

How often do we as Christian leaders want to do our own thing? Jesus ultimately demonstrates that we have to be led to lead — led by the Father in order to lead how He has called us to lead. We cannot lead unless we are following Him, listening to His voice and obeying His calling. Though leadership books abound, the best model for leadership is still found in God’s Word in the upside-down example of Jesus.


Matthew 20:26–28
Luke 9:23
John 8:28
Philippians 2:3

Kelli Wommack is the pastor of leadership development at Christ Community Church in Columbus, Georgia.

Article Categories:
[Foundation] · Departments · God · LLM November 2014 · Magazine

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