THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
AVOIDING CONFLICTS IN COMMUNITY – 2
May 21, 2018
Today’s reading: James 3:13-18
Why are there conflicts among top leaders and splits in Christian
communities? There are a number of reasons, but among the
top reasons are selfish ambition and jealousy. “For
where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder
and every foul practice.” (v.16).
does selfish ambition happen among servant leaders?
When one looks to power, not for the sake of service, but
for its own sake.
When one looks to position, and the pride that this brings.
When one looks to prestige, exulting in the acclaim of men.
one looks to perquisites of the position.
When one acts in competition with other leaders or groups
within the community.
When one thinks himself better that his peers or even those
over him, often resulting in critical thought and speech.
When one does not have the spirit of humble subordination
to those over him.
When one looks to gaining influence among brethren, at times
for the purpose of personal financial gain.
When one will go to any length in order to put himself up
or to bring others down. This includes distortions of truth
(lies, half-truths, gossip, innuendos), fomenting discontent,
and forming factions.
are manifestations of jealousy?
When one is envious of the position, influence or accomplishments
of other leaders.
one allows brethren to malign a leader behind his back and
may even participate in such negative talk.
one makes negative judgments about another leader, oftentimes
without really knowing the reality of the situation.
one does not rejoice whenever a fellow leader is acclaimed
for his work.
one does not pass on his wisdom and experience to his subordinates,
looking on them as threats to his position.
Ambition and jealousy lead to speaking falsehood, whether
deliberately or inadvertently. It leads to lying about and
maligning fellow leaders, in order to advance one’s
own interest. Some, in their blindness, even boast of what
they can do better. “But if you have bitter jealousy
and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false
to the truth.” (v.14).
you can see how all this, with such attitudes, can lead to
strife and disunity. Whenever we take on the wisdom of the
fallen world, justifying to ourselves why we think and act
in these ways, we will fail, and worse, cause failure in the
body. “Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above
but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (v.15). Heed
this warning. Such thinking and posturing are not from God
but from the world. They are unspiritual and should have no
part in spiritual people who do spiritual works. And worse
they are demonic, because they result in division in the body,
negatively impacting on its mission. You become the enemy
is the antidote? It is holiness and humility, which leads
to godly wisdom, which is essential for servant leaders. “Who
among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works
by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
(v.13). In turn, what is wisdom? It is knowing who are are
and who God is, and living our lives accordingly, in holiness
are the essential elements of godly wisdom? “But the
wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle,
compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy
or insincerity.” (v.17). See how such attributes negate
ambition, jealousy, competition and strife.
Pure – one must not have negative thoughts about others,
but keep one’s mind and heart free of any kind of
Peaceable – the peace of Christ (shalom) is being
in right relationship with brethren, not doing any wrong
to them and always acting rightly, with the interest of
others at heart.
Gentle – there can be disagreements but these are
to be resolved gently and peaceably.
Compliant – one must follow good order and pastoral
discipline within the community, able to disagree but never
Full of mercy – one must be tolerant, considerate,
loving and forgiving, ever mindful of the shortcomings of
people (including one’s own) and able to give allowance
to human foibles.
Full of good fruits – one must look to simply serving
to the best of one’s ability, knowing that in doing
so, God will produce good fruit. It is also recognizing
the bad fruit that comes from negativity, envy and ambition,
and desiring never to be an instrument for these to prevail.
Without inconstancy – one must be consistent in upholding
the vision, principles and core values of the community,
living them to a high degree, and never surrendering principle
for any worldly benefit.
Without insincerity – one must have no pretense or
deceit, never dishonest or hypocritical, always acting in
All the above is about holiness. All the above will prevent
strife and division, and will bring unity and peace to the
community. “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in
peace for those who cultivate peace.” (v.18).