THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUT SERVANT LEADERSHIP
I suppose none of us who are serving as leaders in CFC-FFL
would disagree with the call to servant leadership. We readily
agree and actually try to live out its high ideals. However,
the problem might be in our not realizing certain aspects
of leadership that actually keep us from fully embracing true
I would now like to take up some of these.
When Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, he took the lowest
place. The washing of feet was not even fit for the lowest
slave, but that is what the Master did. To have to wash others’
feet is to experience shame, humiliation and being looked
down on (literally and figuratively).
Jesus was Master but he did the work of a slave, even lower.
This is the context by which we must understand that we are
leaders but more importantly servants.
Leaders do have authority and power. But it is authority and
power to be able to serve. It is not authority and power to
be able to dominate.
What to avoid:
dictatorial. We are pastors and not tyrants. We guide,
advise, enlighten, encourage and also give direction.
We are there to give care. We are there to love.
controlling. We do not have to have everything under
our control. We in fact should delegate and practice
the principle of subsidiarity. We trust in our subordinates.
in any way that intimidates subordinates, thus preventing
them from freely expressing their views and giving their
inputs. Leaders must not only not act in an authoritarian
way, but must actively encourage subordinates to give
their inputs, even negative ones.
blind obedience. We are not a cult, and the freedom
of our members to choose can never be taken from them.
What we in fact promote is active submission, where
they can freely (but respectfully) question anything
and give their inputs.
impatient with people, to the point of just dictating
on them. We must learn to work with and to walk with
our people. It indeed is our privilege, and burden,
to help form our brethren through loving pastoral care.
unilaterally on decisions affecting the body. We must
make it a habit to consult and seek the wisdom of others,
especially of counselors and core teams, who are there
precisely to give wise inputs.
functional. While we do have a function to perform,
the basic reality is that we live in community, where
loving relationships are at the core. Our relationships
are primarily personal and fraternal, not merely functional.
For their able leadership, leaders ought to be respected,
emulated, esteemed and even extolled. This is to encourage
the brethren and help them trusting in their leaders, for
the good of the body and the mission. However, looking good
ought never be a factor in our handling our leadership. Jesus
was demeaned and spat on. If circumstances cause us to suffer
that same fate, then it is cause for great joy.
What to avoid:
subordinates from having access to a higher authority
where the subordinates can express their disagreements
with their leaders, so that we do not look bad to our
superiors. We in fact should welcome such, so that if
we are doing anything not right, then we can be corrected.
We must humble ourselves. We should also trust in our
superiors to be able to wisely handle any complaints
subordinates to take up matters with us first before
going to a higher authority. While we do have a pastoral-hierarchical
structure that brings order to our day-to-day community
life, a subordinate must not be intimidated into not
freely going to a higher authority if he/she feels the
need to do so.
defensive or overly sensitive when criticized or questioned.
Rather, welcome the criticism, which hopefully is constructive,
and learn whatever needs to be learned. If there is
no validity to the criticism, then simply explain and
then leave the matter in the hands of the superior.
resentful when corrected by a superior due to the inputs
of a subordinate. Rather, welcome every correction,
wherever and however it comes about. Thank the one who
gave the input that led to the correction.
fully disclosing problems when asked by one’s
superior. The superior is there to help us in improving
quiet about problems when not asked by one’s superior.
Rather, we should volunteer “negative” information
and eagerly solicit advice and inputs.
to one’s own shortcomings
Yes, we are leaders. But we are leaders in spite of ourselves.
We stand in the place of the Chief Shepherd Jesus, and so
we will always fall short. But such realization is in fact
a blessing, if only we will acknowledge our shortcomings and
look to Jesus for grace and help. Such help is often given
by God through our brethren.
we have all the answers, and that seeking inputs from
others especially subordinates would diminish us in
humbly and actively seeking help from superiors or peers.
We work as a team with other leaders. We compensate
for weaknesses and enhance strengths. Not seeking help
when needed is missing out on a great resource.
longer being open to learn; being fixed on our ways,
even if such have proven problematic at times.
on one’s stated position or decision even in the
face of clear indications that a change is desirable.
This is sinful pride.
constantly being in a posture of dependence on and trust
in the Lord. Such a posture is foolhardy.
in God’s working through subordinates
God raises leaders to lead, but God does not speak to His
people only exclusively through His chosen leaders. Every
member of community has a gift from the Holy Spirit, and every
member can become a particular instrument of God to manifest
His will and His direction for the community. Leaders must
keenly desire to tap on to the mind of God through his subordinates.
on subordinates only as those under one’s leadership,
rather than as brethren who are equal in personal worth
and dignity, and whom God can use to give wise inputs
to their superiors.
being open to the work of the Spirit in subordinates
with regards to matters of governance. Even though authority
resides in a particular governor, it is always wise
to seek counsel from others.
finding; being focused more on the faults of subordinates.
We are all works in progress. Leaders should in fact
thank God that they are given the privilege to help
form subordinates, and so patiently do so. God has every
reason to be impatient with us, but that is not what
we experience from Him.
shoulder treatment to critics. We must always be patient,
tolerant and forgiving, trying to win people over by
our good works and loving care.
Jesus not only washed the feet of the apostles, but he went
to the cross to suffer a humiliating and extremely painful
death. The cross is the only way to glory. This is why Jesus
tells his disciples, if they are to truly follow him, to deny
themselves and take up their cross. As leaders, Jesus certainly
wants us to travel the same path.
Being depressed when things do not go our way. We must
realize that God uses difficulties, challenges and crosses
to keep us on the right track and to purify us. As such,
they are blessings to be embraced.
discouraged and even wanting to give up one’s
service whenever we meet with opposition or correction
from superiors. We should persevere and endure. We in
fact should be encouraged that brethren care enough
to correct or chastise us.
on affliction as undesirable. Again, the cross is the
way of true discipleship. Suffering is redemptive. As
long as we act in righteousness, being misunderstood
or being unjustly persecuted is to be considered as
part of our continuing purification and growth to holiness.
rejoicing in affliction for the sake of righteousness.
out on the reality that our enemy is Satan and not our
brethren. Satan opposes God’s work in and through
us. At times he is able to use brethren to afflict us.
But we should always know that he is the true enemy.
We have a long way to go in fully appreciating and living
out servant leadership. But this can be the only way for us
in CFC-FFL, because this is the way of Jesus.
Servant leadership is to be lived out, from the very top to
the bottom, from the Servant General to the Household Servants.
Servant leadership is the way to unity and peace in the body.
(July 17, 2009)
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