Servant-Leadership: Have We Gotten It All Wrong?

Servant-Leadership: Have we Gotten it all Wrong?

Servant-leadership seems to be a buzz word among leadership circles today. But what is it? Is it being available 24-7 at the beck and call of those in our churches, organizations or ministries? Is it being a quiet leader? Is it seeking to make sure we aren’t identified too much with our ministry? Is it being someone’s or some organization’s butler? Just what is it? In this post I suggest a simple definition and 11 qualities of a true servant-leader.

What a servant-leader DOES NOT DO:

  1. Constantly self efface himself or herself.
  2. Force humility.
  3. Try to stay behind the scenes all the time.
  4. Say ‘yes’ to everyone’s need.
  5. Act tentatively.

What servant-leadership IS: I like Audrey Malphurs’ definition.

A Christian leader (servant-leader, my addition) is a godly person (character) who knows where he is going (vision) and has followers (influence.) [Pouring New Wineskins into Old Wineskins, Grand Rapids, Baker, 1993, p. 163)]

What a servant leader DOES:

  1. Is driven by God’s vision for his life and ministry rather than personal interest or accolades from others. He knows where he is going.
  2. Makes others feel valued in their roles.
  3. Brings out the best in others by empowering them.
  4. Knows what he or she must focus upon, the important, rather than getting sucked into the urgent, less important.
  5. Leads from within his unique personality and leadership style without trying to fit somebody else’s mold or style.
  6. Bases his significance and value on his relationship with God, knowing that as His child, he is loved unconditionally regardless of his “success.”
  7. Seldom uses power and authority as a leverage.
  8. Seeks to lead with true humility without comparison to another’s church or ministry. C.S. Lewis wisely noted that “pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next guy.”
    1. Balances modesty with boldness, tenacity and initiative.
    2. Doesn’t  believe her own press clippings.
    3. Refuses to act independently.

    What other characteristics would you add to this list?

This article originally appeared here.

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Charles Stone
Dr. Charles Stone is Lead Pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of four books including, "People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership" (IVP 2014), and his most recent book, “Brain-Savvy Leaders: The Science of Significant Ministry” (Abingdon, May 2015). His fifth book, on an ancient spiritual formation practice seldom practiced today, releases January, 2019 from Moody Press.

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