Here in California, the kids, for the most part, are all back in school, and there is a collective sigh of relief from the parents.
Over the past few weeks, we have gone back to school ourselves, receiving encouragement and needed reminders from God’s Word.
The first week, we were encouraged to live a courageous life by following the Lord’s command He gave to Joshua as he assumed the mantel of leadership from Moses.
We raised the white flag of surrender in our lives during the second week, realizing we cannot go it alone, and we need God’s help.
Last week, we were reminded of the healing power of hope and that hope has a name – His name is Jesus.
As we conclude our Back to School series this week, we focus on what it means to be a servant leader.
Each of us has roles to play in our lives. Some of you are business leaders, others are educators, and many of you are parents, spouses, or significant others.
You are a leader whether you realize it or not. John Maxwell famously said,
Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.
Maxwell might not have been the first to share these words with us, but the phrase is still true. We all have influence; the question then becomes, what type of influence are you sharing with the world?
As a business leader…leadership styles, principles and quips have been shared with me in many different forms over the years. I lead a small team of people commissioned to care for employees who come to the office daily.
Leading my team requires me to adapt my leadership style to the person and their particular needs. Sometimes the most difficult part of leading people is knowing what they need to succeed and help them achieve success.
In the book of Matthew, it says,
“But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant” — Matthew 20:26
Executives and other business leaders remind us frequently that we should be servant leaders, but what does that mean, and more importantly, what does this look like?
But, you might say, I’m not a business leader. True, but are you a teacher, parent, sibling, spouse, or child?
Christ’s words in Matthew 20:26 are true for each of us in the roles we play both inside our vocational work and our personal lives.
Servant leadership is leading from a place of humility rather than positional. It means building your team up in the business world so they get the praise for a job well done. You are their biggest cheerleader.
As a former cross country coach, I loved when my team outperformed even what they thought was possible. This was accomplished because each of these athletes ran for the collective good of the team. When they did this, they not only performed at their best, but the team also performed at their best.
In the movie, Remember the Goal, the coach had to explain to the parents while running slower, a more even tempo pace would help them be at the top of the leader board when the race that mattered came around.
However, this is counter to what our culture tells us to do. Culture says, look out for me, I am #1; the team’s success is secondary to my needs and desires.
“If you want to be first, you need to be last.”
What does it mean to be first, I need to be last.? Am I supposed to be a doormat for everyone to walk all over?
No. Servant leadership means leading from a position of service and support. As this type of leader, you still have to make the tough calls, develop your staff, manage the budget, and help team members succeed.
Perhaps a better way to look at it is in our approach to work. Work means different things to people based on your industry or how you serve. Work is inclusive of what you do in and outside the home.
Colossians 3:23-24 says,
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”
Work is meant to be fulfilling. It is meant to serve a purpose. Servant leadership fits within this framework of “work willingly at whatever you do.”
At the end of the day, as business leaders, we need to get the work done. As parents, you need to guide and direct your children in making good decisions. As educators, you need to teach kids the skills necessary to prepare them for their futures. As spouses and significant others, you need to communicate your needs to help your relationship thrive.
Servant leadership starts with each one of us, especially in our attitudes. When we model the behavior that we want others to adopt, that has the power to change classrooms, families, and workplaces.
Let’s be servant leaders today.
Let’s practice servant leadership today, whether at the office, in the classroom, at church, or in the home.
Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
- Do the dishes
- Do your homework
- Help someone else with their homework
- Listen to someone’s story
- Pick up the tab at lunch & leave a generous tip
- Encourage someone who is working towards a goal
- Take on an extra assignment at work where you see someone is overwhelmed
- Ask someone how they are doing today
Today is a great day to do the unexpected and live words of Jesus to be humble and put others first.
Lord, thank you for the simple reminder to place others above ourselves. Please help us to be generous with our time and talents to help others be successful. Please give us the courage to walk the talk, and be a servant leader in the communities we serve. Amen!
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