THE SERVANT GENERAL
dear brethren in Christ,
One of our 7 Core Values in CFC-FFL is Servant Leadership.
This is a value that is crucial if we are to become the instruments
that God can use for His work.
A proper understanding of Servant Leadership becomes even
more critical, given what happened to us in the crisis of
2007 and up to now. We saw how brethren who were at the highest
levels of “servant leadership” suddenly acted
in unbrotherly and unchristian ways—lying, maligning,
slandering, attacking, oppressing. What happened? And can
it happen again? Yes, it can, for we are all too human and
so we try to look deeper into the meaning of servant leadership.
First we see a seeming oxymoron. The words “servant”
and “leader” seem opposed. A person is either
one or the other. And so to put the two words together creates
a new reality that is somewhat of a contradiction. And indeed,
this is where the problem starts.
a leader means having position, power, influence, submission
from subordinates, and recognition. Indeed, even for a servant
leader, this is part of his role. These elements are objective
realities that are not per se wrong. In fact, these are necessary
for him to function well. On the other hand, being a servant
means having the lowest position, no inherent power, submission
to a higher authority, and even non-recognition of the good
one does (Lk 17:10).
leads a servant leader astray is when he looks to being a
leader but not really to being a servant. This is when he
looks to pride rather than humility, to power rather than
powerlessness, to being first rather than being last, to being
applauded rather than anonymously doing his work. This is
where he lords it over people. This is when he becomes more
concerned about how people look up to him, rather than on
how he can look to his people and serve their needs. In other
words, the focus is now on himself as leader rather then on
others as their servant.
Now Jesus is the servant leader par excellence. And the text
we often quote is the lesson he gave to his disciples, when
James and John, with their mother, tried to secure places
of honor at his right and left. Jesus told them, “You
know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and
the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it
shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great
among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first
among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did
not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as
a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28).
gave the principle: the great will be the servant, the first
shall be the slave. Then he gave himself as an example. He
would model servant leadership. Even if he was the Master,
he came to serve rather than be served. Finally, he said what
could be the key phrase for our deeper understanding of servanthood,
and that is, Jesus would give his life as a ransom.
What do we think of when one speaks of ransom? We think of
kidnapping (Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines) or hijacking (Somali
pirates in the gulf of Aden). For them to release their captives,
whether persons or ships or goods, a ransom is demanded. The
ransom is given by someone who has an interest in the person
or thing being ransomed. The ransom paid then passes into
the total control of the kidnapper or hijacker, to do with
as he wills.
with Jesus, this is what happened. We were under the dominion
of Satan. In a way, since our natural environment as children
of God is heaven, we were abducted. Jesus then offered himself,
suffered and died for us, paid the price, and secured our
How about us? As servant leaders, we too are to give our
life as ransom. What does that mean?
We expend ourselves for the good of others, having the utmost
concern for their well-being, especially spiritually.
We hold nothing back, even our very lives.
We give up all human desire for power, position and influence;
we look not to human acclaim nor to protection of our reputation.
We serve even when those we serve do not appreciate us or
might even act negatively towards us.
Remember: a ransom, though having value of itself, in this
particular context has value only in relation to the person
or thing being ransomed, that is, only as it can provide relief
or well-being to the captive. A ransom becomes a mere commodity,
an instrument to be used. A ransom substitutes itself for
the captive, putting itself in place of the captive, in order
to secure the latter’s release. A ransom loses its freedom
in order to secure freedom for the captive. A ransom gives
up its own “life” in order to save the captive
is what Jesus did. And in Paul’s letter to the Philippians,
we see the very fact of how Jesus exercised servant leadership.
though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality
with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and
found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient
to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:6-8)
Being a ransom involves death to self, in order to give life
Servant leaders are called to expend themselves for the sake
of those they serve. And though their service is what brings
benefit to those served, what is important, for the servant
leaders’ own sake, is knowing who or what they are rather
than looking to what they do. Knowing and living out who they
are supposed to be is what will keep them on the right track.
What they are able to do then simply proceeds from who or
what they are. While their action is to lead; their identity
is to be a servant.
servant leader is not so much about serving as a leader, but
rather leading as a servant. Or put another way, a servant
leader is not so much about a leader who serves, but rather
about a servant who leads.
The call to servant leadership is a wonderful calling. It
is the very way of Jesus. It is God’s way of caring
for His people. Servant leaders are needed in order to accomplish
God’s plan for the life of the world.
those who are privileged to be so called never forget that
in the kingdom of God, the greatest is always the least. And
those whom the Lord will exalt are only those who have been
May we be worthy to be the Lord’s servant leaders. God
bless you all.
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