THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
THE ULTIMATE SERVANT LEADER
of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
September 14, 2016
Today’s reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Jesus is the ultimate servant leader. He is our leader, but
he came to serve us all, taking the lowest place in doing
so. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, but “though
he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.” (v.6). He is God, but set
aside that sublime position to become man. He rules over all,
but became a lowly slave washing the feet of others.
things make a servant leader.
is self-emptying. “Rather, he emptied himself”
(v.7a). Servant leadership is about not looking to one’s
own preferences, agenda, priorities, comfort and convenience.
We only look to the priorities of the Master. Since our sinful
human flesh oftentimes make us desire to do things other than
what our Lord desires, we must decide that it is not about
us but all about Jesus. Thus we need to empty ourselves of
anything and everything that will keep us from following him
wholeheartedly. That can be pride, a personal agenda, looking
to power, or clinging to position. We empty ourselves of our
own will in order to be totally submitted to God’s will.
is taking the lowest place, “taking the form of a slave”
(v.7b). To be a leader is to be a servant. To be great is
to be the least. To be first is to be the last. Servant leadership
is all about expending ourselves in the service of God and
His people. In possessing the highest place, a place of honor,
we take the lowest place, and even embrace dishonor.
is humbling oneself, as Jesus “humbled himself”
(v.8a). Pride is the great sin of servant leaders. These are
those who lord it over others, who seek to be served, who
think they are entitled to power and position. Rather, we
must know that we have become leaders in spite of
ourselves. We are weak sinful flesh, and we often get in the
way of God’s plans, but God still calls us and uses
us. Rather than sinful pride, that is cause for great humility,
knowing that apart from God’s blessing we are nothing,
but with God’s grace we can be His anointed servant
is being obedient, “becoming obedient to death, even
death on a cross.” (v.8b). A servant is one who is obedient.
What good is a servant who wants to do his own thing, who
thinks he knows better than all others, who openly defies
those over him in authority, who will not submit even just
for the sake of peace and unity in the body? Such disobedience
goes against the very definition of a servant. A true servant
leader is obedient to Christ, and to those whom God has appointed
(and hopefully anointed) as His human leaders.
just as “God greatly exalted (Jesus)” (v.9a),
the divine Master too will exalt those who are authentic servant
leaders, and raise up those who are humbly bowed down. And
just as “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every
tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (v.10-11a),
true servant leaders will be used by the Master to bring the
salvation of Jesus to everyone on earth, as they confess the
lordship of Jesus.