The five words used in the New Testament translated “ministry” generally refer to “servanthood” or service given in love. Similarly, the Greek word for leadership is “diakonia,” which translates literally to “serving at tables.” Serving others is the very essence of ministry.
As Robert Greenleaf, the father of modern servant leadership theory,
explains, true leadership “emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others.” Even as far back as the fifth century B.C., Lao Tzu wrote that “the highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. . . . The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, ‘We did this ourselves.’”
I recently came across a very powerful little set of points from Trinity Western University that are worth reflecting on as you evaluate your leadership style and strive toward servant leadership. They provide a comparison of self-serving leaders and servant leaders.
Self-Serving Leaders Servant Leaders
Leader’s objective is to be served Leader’s objective is to serve
Understood then understand Understand and then understood
Self-image and advancement Focus on team’s potential and success
Treats others as inferior Treats team with respect
Decision-making is centralized Decision-making is shared
Atmosphere of dependence Atmosphere of empowerment
Rejects criticism – seeks credit Encourages input – shares credit
Expediency is the criteria Decisions made openly, with consultation
Accountable to superiors only Accountable to God and others
Shuns personal evaluation Welcomes personal evaluation
Clings to power and position Willing to step aside for others
Summarized from http://www.twu.ca/about/core-values/servant-leadership
As I read through the list above, I challenged myself to honestly evaluate my own motives and make sure I am working toward being a servant leader. Are you willing to join me in focusing on being a servant leader? In honestly evaluating our motives for leadership? Only by truly examining our focus and motivation can we move toward the servant leadership that is essential to true gospel ministry.
This is Part 1 in a series of posts by David McClintock. Click the Latest Posts tab below to find related posts.
Note: Article written and posted in English
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