Do you know that serving can be self-serving? I can open the door for you, not because I want to help you, but because I want to look good! Serving can be done for all the wrong reasons. It can be the ultimate “look at me!” opportunity.
“You’ll know if you truly have a servant’s heart when someone treats you like a servant!”
ONE – A servant leader focuses on others.
I guess that’s obvious, but as leaders there is a tendency for us to focus on ourselves… what we are doing, our goals, our dreams. However, Jesus commands us not just to serve others, but to be a servant to others. He said, “If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be the slave of the rest. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life…” Matthew 20:16-28 (NEV)
We are not called to simply serve, we are called to be servants.
Years ago, the Salvation Army, held an International Convention in the States. The founder, General William Booth, was to speak, but because of an illness he could not be there. He promised that he would send a telegram with a vision for the next decade of where the Salvation Army was to go. They were all excited. The Convention Center was packed out with Salvation Army people, waiting in anticipation. They got the telegram. The man who was to read the message that was to be the vision for the next decade for the Salvation Army got up. He opened the telegram, kind of frowned. There was only one word on the telegram – “Others”.
TWO – A servant leader leads by example.
A servant leader would never ask someone to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. In fact, they want to serve alongside others. Whether it’s clean up or follow up, a servant leader is willing to pitch in. No prima donnas here! Remember, a servant leader is a servant. For reals! If I think I’m the exception, something has happened in my heart. Servanthood is not a role or behavior, it’s who we are!
THREE – A servant leader is willing to adapt.
Some think leading is getting others to change and go our way. However, servant leaders meet people where they are at. They know the importance of adapting their leadership style. Some may need a more direct, hands-on approach, while others simply need a word of encouragement.
More than that, servant leaders continue to learn and are willing to change their minds. They are never stubborn, but teachable. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had it all figured out. It wasn’t until I slowed down and listened to another perspective that I saw the bigger picture. Often it didn’t change the overall direction, but it allowed me to make adjustments that resulted in better leadership.
FOUR – A servant leader makes the hard decisions.
Being a servant leader doesn’t mean you don’t have to make a difficult decision or that you’ll never upset people. What it does mean is that you’re committed to doing what is best for the whole team. Servant leaders are willing to protect the group. There have been times in my ministry when a new person showed up from another church. I tried to be diligent in contacting the former pastor to find out what was going on. Sometimes they were running away from an issue and so I asked the new person to go and make things right (in a loving, servant-like way). A servant leader is willing to make those decisions for the sake of whole.
BEFORE YOU GO…
Do you serve or are you really a servant? Servanthood starts with the heart, not with behavior. Who is God asking you to serve today? In your family? In your community?