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On Christian Leadership – part 2

October 9, 2012

The most important value, in being a “leading servant” like Jesus, is selflessness. In Constable’s commentary on Philippians there is a comparison between a helper and a servant which highlights this value:

Contrasts between a helper and a servant:
A helper helps others when it is convenient.
A servant serves others even when it is inconvenient.

A helper helps people that he or she likes.
A servant serves even people that he or she dislikes.

A helper helps when he or she enjoys the work.
A servant serves even when he or she dislikes the work.

A helper helps when the circumstances are convenient.
A servant serves even when the circumstances are inconvenient.

A helper helps with a view to obtaining personal satisfaction.
A servant serves even when they receive no personal satisfaction.

A helper helps with an attitude of assisting another.
A servant serves with an attitude of enabling another.
(Constable 2012)

A leading servant is one who is not serving for personal gain, whether that gain is the approval of others or personal fulfilment but rather their highest concern is the welfare of others. It has been said that humans are incapable of doing anything for truly altruistic reasons. That sin, in the form of selfishness, has so deeply ingrain humanity every action has some self gratification attached to it, even if it is only the personal satisfaction of having helped someone. This is, of course, not true in the life of Jesus who was sinless and leading servants will also develop high levels of selflessness.

The second most important value we see in the life of Jesus is humility. The leading servant will focus on achieving the best outcomes for those in their care and they are not concern who gets the credit. Their security is not linked to their service so they do not need to draw attention to themselves.

There are other values essential for leading servants as modelled by Jesus: Grace, Jesus always showed grace to others, though he did not allow it to become an excuse for laziness (Matthew 25:26). Generosity, Jesus was willing to share his time, talents and resources. Gratitude, Jesus had an attitude of thankfulness towards God and others. Empowering, leading servants do not need to hold onto power but empower others even if it weakens their position within the group. Empowering also means creating opportunities for others to grow. Inclusion, Jesus freely shared his life with others and though there were times when he withdrew to be alone, he did not isolate himself or hide his needs. He allowed his friends access to his personal life. Non-discriminatory, Jesus served others regardlessly of their status, gender, ethnic background or occupation. Non-demanding, Jesus allowed people to choose to follow him; he did not demand it.

by Susan Barnes
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Susan Barnes

~ writer of insightful posts about God and faith