Connect, Lead, Equip: How to Improve Servant Leadership & Make a Spiritual Impression on the Job
Pastor and author, Glenn C Stewart graduated from college and entered pastoral ministry as the Director of Christian Education for a large multi-ethnic church. He had the privilege of serving alongside the lead pastor who set an incredible example of servant leadership. The pastor exegeted Scripture well, he developed people, and he sought the welfare of the people. He resolved disagreements and conflicts by bringing people together, having open communication where each person was heard and validated, and then guided them in working toward a resolution that kept the unity of the Body of Christ. Glenn deeply admired the pastor because he truly valued people.
- Laub stated, “Servant leadership promotes the valuing and development of people, the building of community, the practice of authenticity, the providing of leadership for the good of those led and the sharing of power and status for the common good of each individual, the total organization and those served by the organization.”1
Who comes to your mind when you hear the words servant leader? Is it Mother Teresa? Is it Martin Luther King? Do you think of a mentor? The servant leadership paradigm is not new. Its roots go back to the biblical era. The perfect model of servant leadership is Jesus. The Gospel of Mark recorded that two of Jesus’ disciples came to Him asking to sit in positions of power and authority. Jesus turned their inappropriate request into a strategic teaching moment regarding the nature of true leadership.
Jesus taught that leadership is serving the needs of others above oneself. He was the model and perfect exemplar of true leadership.
Jesus, the divine-human person, had an unselfish mindset. He didn’t grasp after His position of power and authority. Instead He humbled Himself and emptied Himself on behalf of others. Leaders in the pattern of Jesus must not consider their position of authority as existing to advance themselves or serve their own self-interests, but instead must humble themselves, seeking to advance the welfare of those they lead. It is this biblically rooted leadership paradigm that needs to guide your personal leadership and inspire your leadership vision.
As a leader, you have the choice to model servant leadership. There are six keys to consider.
6 Ways to Improve Your Servant Leadership Skills:
- Display authenticity -Do this by being open and accountable to others, by having a willingness to learn from others, and by maintaining integrity and trust.
- Value people -Believe in others. Be receptive and nonjudgmental in how you listen. Serve the needs of others before your own.
- Develop people -Provide opportunities for learning and growth. Model appropriate behavior. Build up others through encouragement and affirmation.
- Build community -You can do this by building strong personal relationships, by working collaboratively with others, and by valuing the differences of others.
- Provide leadership -Envision the future, take initiative, clarify goals, and proceed with action.
- Share leadership -Facilitate a shared vision. Share power and release control. It requires you letting go of things needing to be accomplished in the exact way and fashion in which you want them to be done. And finally, share status and promote others.
How are you doing as a servant leader? As you reflect on these six key areas, where do you need to make some adjustments so that you can be an effective servant leader for Jesus Christ?
1 Reference: Laub, j. (2004) Defining servant leadership: A recommended typology for servant leadership studies. Paper presented at the 2004 meeting of the Servant Leadership Roundtable, Virginia Beach, VA.