THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
BEING A SERVANT LEADER
Today’s gospel: Matthew 23:1-12
We are all servants of our Master, the Lord Jesus, and those
who are called to become leaders are to be servant leaders.
We might think that that indeed would be the way in the spiritual
body that is the Church, but most often, those who serve as
leaders in the Church become just like their secular counterparts.
were the religious leaders during Jesus’ time, the scribes
and the Pharisees. Today Church leaders might say and teach
the right things, but their hearts would not be right. They
are leaders but do not have servants’ hearts. “For
they preach but they do not practice.” (v.3b). How do
leaders fail in servanthood? It is when they succumb to pride,
power and position. All three are inter-related.
“All their works are performed to be seen. They
widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.”
Power. “They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry)
and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will
not lift a finger to move them.” (v.4).
“They love places of honor at banquets, seats of
honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the
salutation ‘Rabbi.’” (v.6).
How does the above translate to today’s “servant
one’s accomplishments rather than just quietly working
without fanfare or acclaim.
self-referential, considering how any action would redound
to either personal or group benefit rather than just to
the benefit of Christ and his Church.
(in Pilipino, “tampo”). When one does not
get his own way, or is relieved of his service, or is
corrected, one does such things as resigning or even leaving
instances where one does not agree with the directive
of his superior, not clarifying or trying to work out
things but just not doing what is directed.
to turf, to one’s service area as one’s own
it when a higher-up goes direct to one’s subordinates.
being a team player, not sharing resources with those outside
his own area.
up one’s own kingdom and personal support, even against
those over him.
one’s own agenda, priorities and directions, not
in accordance with those of the leaders above him.
division and disunity, by not taking up differences and
difficulties according to community order.
other leaders, through gossip or slander.
then should a true servant leader be?
and this is the obvious thing (but where the violations actually
are), do not look to pride, power and position. How can this
happen? It is to know that we are all servants of the one
Master, Jesus. “As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.”
(v.8). A servant leader does not lord it over others. We are
all lowly servants. We do not profess to know more than Jesus
or to teach other than what Jesus teaches.
do not take in the glory that is due God. “Do not be
called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the
Messiah.” (v.10). Do not go your own way and do your
own thing. Your only role is to serve Jesus and help accomplish
Jesus’ desire, that many be brought to salvation.
do not think too highly of yourself. The higher your position
and responsibility are, the humbler you must become. “The
greatest among you must be your servant.” (v.11). You
are not to climb the corporate ladder, but are to descend
ever lower until you have truly denied and emptied yourself.
know the example of Jesus, your Master, who humbled himself
and took the lowest place (as exemplified in the washing of
his disciples’ feet). Thus, even as you act in contradiction
to how leaders in the world will act, know that this is what
is pleasing to God, and what will result in blessings for
yourself. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but
whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (v.12). Exaltation
is to come from God and not from man or those human persons
Why are Christian communities often in bad shape and unable
to attain to the glory that God intends for them, as they
do His work? Much of the blame rests on leaders. They know
the teachings and even teach them, but they do not practice
or live these out. They profess to serve our Master Jesus,
but they often end up serving themselves, and in doing so,
doing a great disservice to Jesus.
could be so much that Christian communities can do. And why
not? Jesus has already won the victory, and the power of the
Holy Spirit is fully available. Too bad that the first enemies
are not the ones out there but are the ones within, and these
are the leaders themselves.