THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
PRINCIPLES FOR SERVANT LEADERS
Today’s reading: Exodus 32:15-34
Today’s reading from the book of Exodus provides certain
principles or realities useful for servant leaders to know.
servant leaders need to realize that “the people are
prone to evil.” (v.22b). This is the unfortunate reality,
that people are sinful flesh, and even as they already have
a personal relationship with God, even as they are in Christian
community, even as they are already leaders among God’s
people, they can, and quite often do, still fall into serious
sin. These are sins of pride, lust, rebellion, envy, betrayal,
selfishness, gossip, self-aggrandizement, disobedience, falsehood,
etc. So servant leaders, much more so than the ordinary Christian,
are to be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. We are to
be pure in mind and heart, not condemning, not judging, not
maligning others. But we are also to be realistic and not
naive. We can expect to encounter sinful people among those
we serve and among those who serve with us. We must be vigilant
in a Christian community or parish, there will always be those
who will oppose the leadership or the direction of the leadership.
Some of them, because they fail to look to the common overall
good, would even desire that the present leadership fail.
“Aaron had lost control--to the secret delight of their
it is right for servant leaders to have righteous anger, whenever
serious sin or evil is among God’s people. “Then
Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets down and
broke them on the base of the mountain.” (v.19b). In
the Old Testament, we see God’s anger flaring up time
and again at the sins of people. Jesus himself angrily cleansed
the temple. We must not take serious sin in the body lightly.
We must not be complacent, or worse, tolerant.
we serve only God, even as we serve God’s people. As
such, the righteousness of God and the interests of God are
first and foremost, more important than our personal friendships
or blood relationships. If our friends or relatives are veering
away from the straight path, we are to correct them, and in
extreme cases, where serious and unrepented wrongdoing is
involved, to purge them from our midst. “Go back and
forth through the camp, from gate to gate, and kill your brothers,
your friends, your neighbors!” (v.27b).
while we are not to be controlling or authoritarian, servant
leaders do have authority. We exercise authority for the sake
of peace, unity and good order in the body. Otherwise, sinful
people will be prone to disorder. “Moses saw that the
people were running wild because Aaron had lost control”
(v.25a). Servant leaders are to be authoritative but not authoritarian.
They are to establish control without being controlling.
we as servant leaders must be willing to take responsibility
for the wrong that happens in the body under our watch. While
we might not have personally done anything wrong, this is
the principle of command responsibility. We should not just
be finger-pointing and fault-finding and self-excusing, but
we should examine our own selves. We are not to wash our hands,
but know that we are all in this for better or for worse.
If we find instances where we could have done something better
or have been more watchful, then we admit to such before God.
“On the next day Moses said to the people, ‘You
have committed a grave sin. Now I will go up to the Lord;
perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.’”
while we take responsibility, if we have not done wrong, then
we do not stand condemned before God. “The Lord answered
Moses: Only the one who has sinned against me will I blot
out of my book.” (v.33). The sins of those under our
authority are not ours. The sins of those under us do not
render us ineligible or incapable of continuing leadership.
This also answers the concerns of those who, for example,
have children who are unruly or not in the Lord; having such,
unless it is because of the neglect of these leader-parents,
does not preclude them from continuing leadership.
no matter how serious the disorder in community has been,
God still trusts in His anointed leaders who are striving
to walk the straight path. God continues to guide them in
the way they are to go, and provides the spiritual support
they need. “Now, go and lead the people where I have
told you. See, my angel will go before you.” (v.34a).
leaders serve God, and in so doing, serve God’s people.
Like the Good Shepherd, they gather, nurture and protect the
flock. “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!”
(v.26b). They work to bring people closer to God, focused
on Christ, and persevering in the mission. Difficult as their
work is, being able to serve God is reward enough.
No, we no longer do that today.