Encouragement for Pastors: Soar High with Servant Leadership
Oh, no! Here we go with that soft, squishy stuff that doesn’t belong in the harsh reality of organizational and leadership life. As leaders, we need to be firm, decisive, bold, and results driven. As a pastor, no doubt you’ve been told at one time or another to be stern and show more tough love. But wasn’t servant leadership modeled by Jesus? The message of love in servant leadership is one you may already personally understand, but helping your ministry team and congregation embrace it fully is always extremely beneficial.
Love is not weak. It is courageous. It is also freeing. Grasping servant leadership enables an inner freedom that’s probably something like a bird soaring through the air for the first time. It’s not as if all troubles will completely fade, but servant leadership centers the focus on helping others, which means not worrying about ourselves.
Two Essentials of Stellar Servant Leadership:
Being loved –
I spent three days with a leadership consulting team discussing how to get leaders and their followers to see the necessity of love as the foundation of organizational life and make it part of their culture.
One simple question was raised, “Is it possible to love others well if you have not experienced genuine love yourself?” In other words, can you love without first being loved?
The answer I believe is, “No.” To the degree you experience a love deficit you will also manifest a leadership deficit.
But the good news is that the source of love that motivates loving leadership is God’s unending, unconditional love for us. More than cognitive recognition that God loves me, there must be the experiential reliance on His love. This results in personal security. Otherwise, if leaders are insecure they are hard to follow. As a leader, you need to hear the voice of God assure you of His love.
God’s Messages of Love to Hold in Your Heart:
- YOU ARE FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE.
- NOTHING CAN SEPARATE YOU FROM MY LOVE.
- YOU ARE THE APPLE OF MY EYE.
- I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.
- I HAVE LOVED YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE.
These are just a few of the many expressions of God’s love to you. This is such an encouragement for pastors, ministry leaders, Christians and anyone willing to hear the message.
Be sure your leadership is grounded in God’s love. Otherwise you will look to those you lead to fill the deficit you feel and your leadership will be self-serving, manipulative, and reactionary.
Loving those you lead –
Leaders care about the whole person not just the work tasks that can be accomplished. Servant leadership is leading for the good of those you lead. You know this as a pastor, but praying frequently to remember this truth is helpful. And the message also benefits those you lead. Love is seeking the best for others, therefore there is a strong connection between love and leadership.
What does leadership love look like?
Core Qualities of Loving Leadership:
- Value those you lead –
This begins with active listening. Give your full attention, stay engaged, and listen to understand the depth of what is said to you. Don’t just listen to gather information. Deliver praise regularly. Recognize, affirm, and appreciate their contributions on behalf of the organization. People need to hear that they matter and are valuable.
- Display authenticity –
Be willing to learn. Recognize that you do not have all the answers. Admit your mistakes and deflect praise from yourself to those you lead. Solicit advice. Regularly ask for input from your front line people. Be approachable. Provide access for your followers to talk with you about almost anything.
- Build community –
Know the gifts, talents, and personality style of each person. Know their strengths and challenges and learn to adapt to them. Value the differences among those you lead. Allow for individuality in style and expression. Work to resolve conflicts and bring healing to hurting relationships.
- Develop those you lead –
Provide training, coaching, and mentoring. Create a learning environment. Empower others, granting them appropriate authority to make decisions. Build a low control, high trust environment.
Servant Leadership Takeaway:
You see, love and service are not squishy. These principles and actions are practical, relevant, and powerful in creating a caring culture that delivers your ministry mission. Keep embracing the power of servant leadership and help those you lead do so too, so you can all soar high in service together.
If you’re a church leader, pastor, or the leader of a non-profit organization, are you looking for leadership training or team development help? Thanks to the backing of a generous foundation, LifeEquip is able to offer leadership and organizational training at highly reduced rates to meet the needs of smaller organizations. Some LifeEquip services include pastoral coaching, OLA, Everything DiSC, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, and Lead Like Jesus.
- Adjunct Professor of Theology and Leadership
- Certified as a Human Behavior Consultant
- Authorized Wiley Everything DiSC© Partner
- Organizational Leadership Assessment (OLA) Partner
- Certified Facilitator of Ken Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus Encounter Groups
- Certified Facilitator of CPP Personality, Career, and Organizational Development Assessments
- International Speaker and Trainer
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