Servant leadership is a timeless concept that remains as relevant today as it was in the time of Jesus. In this post, we’ll explore the profound principles of servant leadership, using Jesus as the ultimate example. While the teachings are rooted in biblical references, the lessons are universal and applicable to leaders from all walks of life.
What Is A Servant Leader?
Jesus is undoubtedly the greatest leader to ever live. He modeled what true leadership looks like. Jesus wasn’t driven by what he could get from his followers but by what he could give to his followers. He is the greatest example of what servant leadership should be. Jesus’ life embodies a leadership style characterized by selflessness, humility, and an unwavering commitment to the well-being of others. His leadership wasn’t about accumulating power or prestige; it was about uplifting, empowering, and nurturing those who followed him.
One pivotal episode from Jesus’ life vividly illustrates the essence of servant leadership. As recorded by the Apostle John, during a meal with his disciples, Jesus humbly rose from the table, removed his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. He then took on the role of a servant by pouring water into a basin and washing his disciples’ feet. This simple yet profound act spoke volumes about his leadership philosophy.
In that moment, Jesus demonstrated the fundamental principle of servant leadership: the leader’s willingness to serve, not to be served. By washing his disciples’ feet, he conveyed that leadership is not about hierarchical authority but about putting the needs of others first, even when it requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Jesus, despite being the Son of God and the disciples’ leader, took on the role of a humble servant, exemplifying the core values of empathy, selflessness, and a genuine concern for the welfare of his followers.
In essence, servant leadership is a call to action for leaders across all domains of life. It challenges leaders to prioritize the well-being of their team members, to set aside personal ambitions in favor of the collective good, and to lead through actions that inspire, uplift, and empower. By following Jesus’ example of servant leadership, leaders can create a culture of trust, respect, and collaboration.
Key Principles of Servant Leadership:
Great leaders, like Jesus, strive to serve others rather than focusing on their own interests. They draw inspiration from Jesus’ example by:
- Putting others ahead of themselves. Servant leaders put aside their own agenda for the sake of their team. They willingly set aside personal agendas to demonstrate care and concern for those under their guidance.
- Having the courage to serve. Regardless of their title and position, servant leaders are willing to step out of their comfort zone in an effort to serve others. Oswald Sanders aptly noted, “A genuine leader places the welfare of others above their own comfort and prestige.”
- Initiating service to others. Servant leaders don’t wait around for someone else to grab a towel and serve; they go first. By setting an example of service, the servant leader understands that it is not about the leader, but about others.
- Possessing an attitude of servanthood. Servant leaders have a humble attitude and serve a higher purpose. The attitude of servant leadership is found in Philippians 2:3-5. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, …made himself nothing , taking the very nature of a servant.”
- Being motivated by love. Love serves as the driving force for servant leaders. A servant leader loves others and wants to help them. This infuses leadership with meaning and satisfaction. A servant leader’s mission revolves around identifying and fulfilling the needs of others, and their motivation stems from a deep love for their team.
These principles collectively form the foundation of servant leadership, where leaders lead not for personal gain but for the betterment and empowerment of their team members. Such leadership is characterized by humility, courage, and love, creating a work environment where individuals and their leaders thrive together.
Put It Into Practice
In the world of leadership, the depth of your concern for others and your willingness to serve them directly correlates with your ability to influence and lead effectively. Just as Jesus demonstrated, servant leadership is a timeless and powerful approach that can transform your leadership style and impact the lives of those you lead. Embrace the principles of servant leadership, and you’ll find not only success but also a profound sense of purpose in your leadership journey.
Servant leadership, as exemplified by Jesus, remains a powerful and enduring model for leaders across all walks of life. By putting others first, showing courage in service, taking initiative, adopting a humble attitude, and being motivated by love, leaders can create environments where both leaders and followers flourish together.As we reflect on these principles, let us strive to be leaders who serve, inspire, and empower others, following in the footsteps of the greatest leader of all time, Jesus Christ.