Servant Leadership (WIM Core Values, Part 5 of 5)

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Who we are springs from our core values.

WIM’s core values are the qualities that we as an organization deem most important. They are our highest principles and most deeply held beliefs. Like DNA, they define who we are and who we will become. Our core values are foundational to all that WIM represents. Other organizations may have the same or similar vision, but their core values are almost always different since they reflect the fundamental beliefs of that organization.

The five values that we believe are most important to WIM are Committed Relationships, Indigenous Principles, Discipleship, Kingdom Perspective, and Servant Leadership. These are the values to which we are committed, and our desire is that they will govern our actions and behavior. May God give us the grace to apply them to our lives and ministries.

By Chris Briles

The story of King Rehoboam in I Kings 12 is an excellent example of what a servant leader does not look like.  In consulting with the elders who had served Rehoboam’s father, King Solomon, they advised in verse 7, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” Acting out of his own pride, verse 13 states, “Rejecting the advice given by the elders, [Rehoboam] followed the advice of the young men and said, ‘My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier.'” Rather than following the suggestion of the elders to be a humble servant to the people, he led with an even heavier hand, and it resulted in disaster.

The servant leader serves the people he leads.  Servant leadership replaces command and control models of leadership to focus on the needs of others.  Servant leadership develops people, encourages people, and puts the needs of others first.  A visual example is that of a compass:

compass rose

North – We serve those who have authority over us.

South – We serve those who are under our authority.

East and West – We serve our peers who work beside us.

What do servant leaders do?

In addition to having foresight and being models of good stewardship, servant leaders devote themselves to serving the needs of organization members, meeting the needs of those they lead, developing employees to bring out the best in them, coaching others and encouraging their self expression, facilitating personal growth in all who work with them, and listening well to build a sense of community and joint ownership.  They are true encouragers and thrive when others are moving forward.

Servant leaders are effective because when the needs of followers are met, they, in turn, reach their full potential and, as a result, perform at their best.  The strength of this type of leadership is that it forces those in charge to think harder about how to respect, value, and motivate people under their authority rather than operating out of self-service and dominance.

Serving and selflessness

A servant leadership style is characterized by two key factors — serving others and being selfless.  Serving others requires a spirit of humility and an attitude of compassion.  A leader who embodies those attributes of Christ is a genuinely loved leader who engenders loyalty.

Selflessness is an admirable and valuable character trait.  The selfless leader is willing to sacrifice his own interests in order to do what is right for those under his authority. Leaders who practice selflessness work hard to develop community by listening, expressing empathy, and by showing an awareness of personal situations.  One of the greatest examples of this type of selflessness is Mother Teresa who worked tirelessly among the dying and sick in India.

What is leadership?

A general definition of leadership is that it shows the way for others, either by example or by advocacy.  Leadership models a desired behavior by living out the behavior as an example for others to follow.  Those who follow will naturally display the same attributes being lived out in front of them.

Jesus Christ led by example and modeled servant leadership.  Jesus won the hearts of those around Him through His compassion; He also humbly served them.  In John 21:15-16, Jesus gave directions about compassionate, humble servant leadership:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” (NIV)

The story in John 13:1-17 easily could have been another teaching of His about how to serve others.  Instead, this passage shows the Son of God wrapping a towel around His waist to wash and dry the disciples’ dirty feet.  Jesus modeled the behavior He expected His followers to emulate.  In the supreme sacrifice, Jesus laid down His life as an example of how to lay down our lives for those with whom we work and serve.  Paul reiterates this teaching in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Are you a servant leader?

Serving others is at the heart of this core value. Consider the following as you pray about your attitude toward servant leadership.

  • What personal qualities do you have that might make you a good servant leader?
  • What attracts you to this concept?

Action steps

  • When God does give you recognition and authority, use that for the good of others.
  • Do all you can to find ways to serve more and more people.

 

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