THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
HUMBLED AND TESTED
May 21, 2013
In the world, especially in government and politics, many
of those who profess to be public servants are actually those
who serve themselves and expect their constituents and subordinates
to serve them. They are lords rather than servants. They look
to power, position, influence, acclaim, comfort and convenience.
this also happens in the Church, where leaders are not true
servants. They enjoy the trappings of authority and power.
While they profess to look to God’s interests, they
are also protecting and enhancing their own. While they are
supposed to proclaim Christ and his kingdom, they end up proclaiming
themselves and securing allegiance of followers to them rather
than to Christ and the cause of Christ.
is not the way of true servant leadership. Perhaps two major
truths, if only aspiring leaders knew them, would preclude
such false servanthood. Or keep those seeking power, prestige
and pleasure away from accepting such roles of service.
The first truth is this: the Christian leader is the least,
the last, and the servant of all. Jesus himself made that
clear. “In anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the
last of all and the servant of all.” (Mk 9:35b). The
leader is there to serve his subordinates and others, in the
manner of Jesus who took the lowest place when he washed the
feet of his disciples. Like Jesus he humbles and empties himself,
taking the form of a slave.
we do not know this truth, then what happens to our service?
insist on our own way and not listen to others, thereby
fomenting silent disappointment and even dissent.
feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled when we do not receive
adequate thanks for the work we do.
are disappointed when we are not afforded the kind of
recognition that we believe we deserve.
are envious of other leaders who seem to be doing better
than we are.
let acclaim go to our head.
The second truth is this: there will be trials for a true
servant leader. “My child, when you come to serve the
Lord, prepare yourself for trials.” (Sir 2:1). When
we do Jesus’ work, according to Jesus’ way, we
can expect to be opposed, oppressed and persecuted, just as
he was. We come against a strong enemy who wants to destroy
everything that is of God.
we do not know this truth and expect trials as normal,
then what happens when such trials come?
become “impetuous in time of adversity.” (Sir
are unable “in periods of humiliation (to) be patient.”
are greatly discouraged and weaken in our resolve.
become defensive or combative, thus widening rifts with
lie low from our Christian responsibilities and commitments.
are unable to learn the valuable lessons of Lamentations.
do not thank God for caring enough to send purifying pain
into our lives, not knowing that “in fire gold is
tested, and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.”
are unable to live the joy of suffering for the sake of
blame God and even turn away from Him, rather then “wait
for his mercy (and) not stray lest (we) fall.” (Sir
do not wait long enough to see the fruit of suffering,
since we did not know that we are to “trust in him,
and (our) reward will not be lost.” (Sir 2:8).
will not know that “the Lord is compassionate and
merciful .... and saves in time of trouble.” (Sir
servant leadership is difficult and challenging. Because we
are the last and servant of all, we can be stepped on and
abused. Because there will be trials, we will suffer disappointment
and pain, and grieve in lamentations. But wait. Is that not
the path of Jesus?
serve out of love for the Lord, who has loved us first, and
who has shown us the way to true servanthood. As we take on
this challenging task, we continue to look to God, who is
the only one who can comfort our weary souls. And we are always
“Trust in the Lord .... and live secure (Ps 37:3).
your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s
desire.” (Ps 37:4).
Lord knows the days of the blameless; their heritage lasts
forever. They will not be ashamed when times are bad”
the Lord loves justice and does not abandon the faithful.”
salvation of the righteous is from the Lord, their refuge
in a time of distress. The Lord helps and rescues them,
rescues and saves them from the wicked, because they take
refuge in him.” (Ps 37:39-40).
What more do we need? What greater consolation and encouragement
could we have? The Lord is already our all. All the more,
as we are laid low by humble service and by afflictions, the
Lord will raise us up.
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