THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
THE GREAT IMPORTANCE OF THE BIBLE
Today’s psalm: Psalm 119:23-30
Prayer and the Bible are crucial to the life of a Christian,
and especially crucial to the life and work of a servant leader.
Prayer, that is, deep heartfelt prayer, is still a challenge
to many servant leaders. But an even greater challenge to
most servant leaders is regularly reading (daily and several
times a day), meditating on, studying and applying God’s
word to one’s life. I will already tell you, if you
do not become steeped in God’s word in the Bible, you
cannot become the servant leader God intends you
of servant leadership, and ways to handle challenges of ministry,
are all over the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testaments.
Today we look at some challenges to servant leaders, and how
they can be overcome, with principles from the Psalms, specifically,
in today’s short reading.
Following are some common challenges faced by servant leaders.
the authentic servant leader will always (yes, always) face
some opposition from other leaders, including one’s
subordinates. There will be times when “princes meet
and talk against me” (v.23a). The authentic servant
leader speaks prophetically and teaches the hard teachings
of Jesus, as he desires people to grow in holiness and zeal
for the Kingdom. Many leaders prefer to do otherwise--to just
be comfortable, to follow their own agenda, to think they
are better than the leader (they might be, but that is not
the point), to just have a nice Country Club atmosphere, to
not give so much of themselves or their resources, to not
be challenged to grow in perfection, and so on. To justify
their preferred stances, they have to speak against their
leader (behind his back of course), and try to convince others
how the leader is wrong.
there will be times of sadness and discouragement. “My
soul clings to the dust” (v.25a). Servant leadership
is very hard work. There will be failures, feelings of inadequacy,
opposition from brethren, and so on. In addition, there are
all the bad things that happen in one’s life including
challenges in the family.
there might even be feelings of depression due to great challenges
and failures. “My soul is depressed” (v.28a).
Aside from the normal day-to-day challenges, there are the
really serious things that happen from time to time. It might
be the failure of a big project, the loss of brethren one
is caring for, the frustration of not getting the desired
cooperation from others, or something seriously wrong that
happens to one’s loved ones, like illness or financial
there will be challenges in discerning God’s will, especially
with the lies of the enemy. It is not easy to discern God’s
will for the life and direction of the community or group
of brethren one leads. What is the authentic vision and mission?
What is the fullness of the God-given charism? In what ways
can these be lived out? In addition, there is the evil one
always trying to foul up one’s mind. He lies, he leads
astray, at times coming as an angel of light. The servant
leader needs to be constantly praying: “Lead me from
the way of deceit” (v.29a).
there will be temptations to veer away from God’s authentic
call, due to many reasons, such as convenience or pride. God’s
way is exceedingly hard. The demands on servant leadership
is extremely difficult. How indeed can weak sinful flesh do
the very divine work of God? Some leaders then tone things
down, or take the easier route, or lessen the pace, or diminish
the vision. The work is very hard and even humanly impossible,
but servant leaders need to just decide to be faithful to
God’s call, to be loyal to the Master. “The way
of loyalty I have chosen” (v.30a). We after all are
just servants and instruments.
How do servant leaders overcome all the above challenges?
We make use of everything God has given us. We pray, we study,
we undergo formation, we look to those wiser than us, we participate
in the life of the community and the Church, we frequent the
Eucharist, plus many more. But one very important and indispensable
thing we need to do is to take hold of the Bible and make
the very word of God a part of our day-to-day life. “Your
servant meditates on your statutes.” (v.23b).
what ways does the Bible help us? Here are seven ways.
the Bible teaches us God’s ways. God Himself teaches
and counsels us. “They are my counselors.” (v.24b).
God’s words show us the way we are to go, according
to His will and plan for us. “Make me understand the
way of your precepts” (v.27a).
the Bible give us the answers to our questions and solutions
to our problems. “I disclosed my ways and you answered
me; teach me your statutes.” (v.26). Our primary source
of divine wisdom is the Bible.
the Bible shows us the truth, especially against the lies
of the evil one. “Lead me from the way of deceit; favor
me with your law.” (v.29). There is much deception in
the world, including in Christian ministry. Many Christians
go astray, because they do not know the truth. But God has
already revealed His ways. It is there in the Bible.
the Bible is the book of life, the authentic life that God
intends for us to live. “Give me life in accord with
your word.” (v.25b). Jesus is the way and the truth
and the life. In turn, the Bible is God’s written word
telling us about what is right and just and true. The Bible
allows us to meet Jesus and live his life, in the power of
the Holy Spirit.
the Bible encourages us, especially as we face difficult situations.
“I will ponder your wondrous deeds.” (v.27b).
The Bible tells us stories of the great heroes of faith, all
of whom faced great trials. In the Bible we see how God worked
in their lives to help them overcome. It is the same God who
cares for us and helps us in life.
the Bible edifies us and lifts up our spirit. “Lift
me up according to your word.” (v.28b). The Bible gives
us so many important passages that uplift us, brighten our
day, help us to keep moving forward, assure us of God’s
love and mercy, give us hope for the future.
the Bible brings great joy and delight to the soul. Learning
about what God has said and written is simply delightful.
“Your testimonies are my delight” (v.24a). In
the Bible we encounter the God who loves us eternally, who
has the greatest and most wonderful plan for our lives, who
is always there for us. We meet the Father who sent His very
own Son to suffer and die for us. We encounter the Holy Spirit
who is our companion and helper. If we know God Himself is
there for us, what then can we be afraid of. There will only
be goodness all the days of our lives.
The Bible, the very word of God in written form, is indispensable
to the life and work of a servant leader. May every servant
leader be able to say, “I have kept your judgments.”
(1) The Liturgical Bible Study is an important tool God has
given us to get everyone, including ourselves, to read the
Bible. For servant leaders, they of course have to go beyond
just reading to applying God’s word to their day-to-day
(2) If you regularly read and think about my From the Servant
General articles, these are all Bible-based. So aside from
learning the teaching on a particular topic, you will be encountering
many Bible verses throughout your lifetime. The Bible verse
and the application will then be there for you.