Servant Leader or Lead Servant?

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It’s almost impossible to keep up with the blog/article notifications that I receive on a daily basis.  So much valuable information from so many veteran ministers.  A great deal of them are on the subject of leadership.  This is in addition to the books, websites, periodicals, conferences, webinars, etc.  This is in no way a criticism of the John Maxwells, Tim Elmores, Craig Groeschels, Frank Damazios and Ken Blanchards.  Their hard work and insights have been a tremendous blessing to the Body of Christ.

But within the small scope of my experience, I’m seeing too many people wanting to take shortcuts and bypass the process.  Is it about leading or obeying?  Strength or weakness?   Gain or sacrifice?  Faithfulness or success?

“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary” (John 10:11).

Is it about rising or lowering?
Too many think that leadership is climbing a ladder, and that’s how you advance.  In actuality, it’s descending.  Everything Christ exemplified for His disciples had to do with humbling Himself.  Starting from His miraculous birth in a stinky stable; riding into Jerusalem on a donkey; kneeling to wash His friends’ feet; finally allowing Himself to die a brutal, violent death and enter the grave.  

Is it about shining or fading?
We get enamored with the image of an evangelist, pastor, or some other type of leader.  The crowds follow their every word.  They have influence.  They’re commanding.  We want to be just like them.  Well, are we ready to pay the price they did?  It comes at a cost.  In addition, we have too many superstars in the Body of Christ.  As my pastor taught me 26 years ago, “we need super people with super hearts.”  We don’t need anymore personalities with bright white suits under bright lights crying out, “God hide me behind the Cross.”  Can they see the Cross in us? 

Is it about commanding or obeying?
We think we can lead?  But can we follow?  Are we willing to serve?  Many times, it’s a shock to our interns and Bible College students when they work with our staff.  They come with a lot of knowledge from classes, podcasts, blogs, perhaps their own travels, etc.  Some come with the attitude of schooling someone a little more established.  Other than having the wrong attitude, they don’t have the experience to back it up.  When we’re given the opportunity to learn and improve, let’s get all we can.  What is God saying through our mentors whether short or long term?  What can we glean from their wisdom?  What are they warning us about, perhaps their own mistakes, or lessons learned along the way?  We might not always see the big picture, but we can trust that God is working through leaders in our lives.  Understandably, there are cautions when it comes to abusive leadership.  That’s a topic for another time.  But, we see through the Scriptures that God can use even the worst of leaders to develop His people (Saul and David).

Is it about immediate or development?
Teams and ministries do not come out of a box.  Can we build?  Do we hear from God?  Is our character strong enough to stand through the storms and challenges?  What really is our foundation?  Ministry is HARD work.  It takes bulldog faith.  It takes courage.  It takes a tender heart and thick skin.  People are awesome and difficult.  Your biggest fans can become your most vicious enemies.  Leaders need to know when to stand strong and when to drop to their knees.  And once again, that’s a reminder that while we may be called to lead, we must first learn to follow; starting with God, then the leaders He’s given us.

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