THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF JESUS
Today’s reading: Philippians 2:6-11
A servant leader is a servant of Jesus who has been designated
by him to lead his people or care for his flock. The servant
leader steps into the sandals of Jesus, doing to his people
what Jesus would have done for them. He possesses his authority.
But he is to exercise his authority as a servant. He is the
leader of but is the servant to God’s people.
is where the problem comes in. This is when the disciple becomes
more of a leader than a servant, when he focuses on authority
over God’s people rather than his own submission to
God, when he begins to think more highly of himself that he
ought, when he loses sight of the reality that whatever he
can do effectively is only due to God’s grace and power
and never due to his own resources.
keep on the right track, the servant leader needs to look
to the ultimate example of servant leadership, and that is
Jesus. What was Jesus like?
he, “though he was in the form of God, did not regard
equality with God something to be grasped” (v.6). He
did not look to who he truly was and then stand on those credentials.
He was the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world,
the King of kings, the Lord of lords. But he set all those
aside. He was to be a suffering servant.
“he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave”
(v.7a). He shed his glory and power and position, and became
as nothing. He who was Master and Lord became a slave, to
be dealt with harshly, with seemingly no rights, his very
life taken unjustly from him. He who was greatest became the
“he humbled himself” (v.8a). What greater pride
could there be than to be God? But Jesus shed heavenly glory
to be born poor in a stable. He who could call on a legion
of angels allowed himself to be beaten, spat upon, denigrated.
Even in issuing the Great Commission, he has made himself
totally dependent upon human beings to bring his salvation
he became “obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
(v.8b). He gave his all for the Father. He persisted in the
mission given him. Even as he dreaded the passion that was
to come, he resigned himself to the Father’s will. He
willingly suffered and gave his all, including his very life,
till there was nothing else to give.
of this, God greatly exalted him” (v.9a). He who was
demeaned and laid low was raised up and exalted. And God “bestowed
on him the name that is above every name” (v.9b). His
name is “Lord.” The one who became a servant was
revealed to be Master and Lord. Then “at the name of
Jesus every knee should bend” (v.10a). He who bent his
knee to wash the feet of his disciples is now the one to whom
all bend their knees and bow down before in worship.
A servant leader follows in the example of Jesus. He does
not stand on power or position or prestige, he denies himself
and is not self-referential, he humbly serves those whom he
has been given authority over, he is totally obedient to the
commands of God, and he gives his all including his very life.
of who Jesus was and what he did and what posture he took,
“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, to the glory of God the
Father.” (v.10-11). As servant leaders, we carry on
the salvific work of Jesus. We can only effectively do so
as we become true servants. Then we can look to the fruit
of our service, to give honor and glory to God, and for all
peoples to confess Jesus as Savior and Lord.