THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
DOWNWARD AND UPWARD - 2
The servant leader takes the lowest place and is the servant
of all. This is not easy for leaders to grasp, nor for them
to live out. But if we are to serve as our Master did, if
we are to be his effective instruments for his Kingdom, then
we must act accordingly. The instruction of Jesus is clear.
“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last
of all and the servant of all.” (Mk 9:35b). The servant
leader who wishes to be first is he who wishes to serve, and
if effective, becomes a leader. He leads, from the front and
not from behind. He is the first to receive the counter-blows
of the enemy, being at the front lines. He is first, but he
is the last in taking the lowest place as the servant of all.
posture is important in keeping the servant leader well grounded.
It keeps him from destructive pride. Given our fallen human
nature, we can fall into this great sin. No one is immune,
not even the apostles, who “had been discussing among
themselves on the way who was the greatest.” (Mk 9:34b).
This can cause a dilemma for our Master. Jesus certainly wants
his leaders to be effective and successful. But when they
are, but fall into pride, they will become ineffective and
ultimately failures. What is the solution? It is the posture
of humility. It is knowing one’s place, which is the
lowest. We are unprofitable servants.
Jesus pointed to a child (Mk 9:36). The proper posture is
that of a child, who can do nothing much on its own, who is
dependent on others, who does not look to power or position.
God’s people accept their leaders in this way, as a
humble servant/child, then they are also seeing the true essence
of servant leadership, in the model of Christ. “Whoever
receives one child such as this in my name, receives me”
(Mk 9:37a). When they receive their leaders as such, then
they receive Jesus who sends them. And then the full connection
is made from the bottom to the top, as “whoever receives
me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” (Mk 9:37b).
The upward scale of service is complete: leaders -->
people --> Christ -->
let us not forget the downward scale: God -->
Christ --> people -->
leaders. This is important for those who serve. They are covered
by those over them. They are cared for. They are protected.
They are blessed. This is very important, because there will
be many challenges. “My child, when you come to serve
the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.” (Sir 2:1). True
servant leaders will tell you this is true.
do servant leaders survive?
“Trust in God, and he will help you” (Sir 2:6a).
Know that the God whom we serve is just and merciful, and
will always be there for His people. Just keep on serving.
“Trust in the Lord and do good” (Ps 37:3a).
“Make your ways straight and hope in him.” (Sir
2:6b). Keep to the straight and narrow path, even if it is
inconvenient or seems foolish. This is the only way to keep
the intimate connection with God, in whom is our hope. “The
Lord knows the days of the blameless” (Ps 37:18a).
“Cling to him, do not leave him” (Sir 2:3a). Enter
even more deeply in your relationship with God, especially
in times of difficulty. Do not be angry with Him, and never
give up on your service to Him. “For the Lord loves
justice and does not abandon the faithful.” (Ps 37:28a).
“Accept whatever happens to you; in periods of humiliation
be patient.” (Sir 2:4). Look to embrace your crosses,
and rejoice in the good they will bring to your life. “For
in fire gold is tested, and the chosen, in the crucible of
humiliation.” (Sir 2:5).
leadership is challenging. We face the enemy within us, especially
pride and discouragement. And we face the enemy without, those
who seek to harm God’s people. We can only rejoice in
God’s unswerving care. “The salvation of the righteous
is from the Lord, their refuge in a time of distress.”