Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Servant leadership”

A Servant of the Lord

And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said.  Deuteronomy 34:5

After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten.   Joshua 24:29

The descriptive phrase “servant of the Lord” is used of very few people in the Scriptures.  Moses was the first to have this said about him and it became synonymous with him when describing his leadership.  It is used 16 times to refer to this leader who served God in his leadership for forty years.

His successor, Joshua has the same phrase said of him and his leadership.  It is used of Joshua twice – both times in describing him after he died (Joshua 24 and Judges 2).  David also has this phrase describing him twice – found in Psalm 18 and 86.  The final people described as servants of the Lord were the prophets of God killed by the evil Jezebel in 2 Kings 9.

A slightly different phrase with similar meaning – “the Lord’s servant” – is used three times in the bible.  Once again it describes Moses in 2 Chronicles 1.  Mary describes herself as the Lord’s servant when submitting to God’s plan for her life in Luke 1.  And Paul reminds Timothy that the Lord’s servants are not to be quarrelsome in attitude or action in 2 Timothy 2.

While all of us who claim Jesus as our Savior are now servants of the King and slaves of righteous, this particular description seems to designate a special role or contribution. A servant of the Lord or one who is the Lord’s servant is one who serves in a special capacity or function.  Whether they be OT prophets, leaders of the nation of Israel, or in the NT, the mother of Jesus or one who serves in leading the people of God. There is no value difference with this description, but there does seem to be a unique description of function and/or relationship difference.

One who is the Lord’s servant is one who submits to the Lord’s will for their life and seeks to please the One who is their Master.  There is an intimacy in their relationship with the Living God.  They walk closely with Him and are chosen for special contributions.

To be known as a servant of the Lord is a wonderful compliment and a great reputation to have.  To finish your race, as did Moses and Joshua, and have this description used of you in remembrance, is a great honor.

So what would be the description others use to describe you and your leadership?  Would the phrase “a servant of the Lord” or “the Lord’s servant” be on a short list?

Fighting the Need to Increase

The following is a second excerpt from an article by R. Scott Rodin titled, “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation” that originally was published in Journal of Religious Leadership,/ Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp. 105 – 119.

“Most Christian leaders would say that in their hearts they would wish that Jesus would increase and they would decrease.  But it is hard to decrease in a leadership position.  There are natural trappings that distinguish those in leadership such as salary, title, prestige, priority, power, influence, honor and advancement.  And in each area there are tempting opportunities for increase.

“Perhaps the hardest place to decrease is in the influence and the power we hold over people and decisions.  For this reason we find Christian leaders who are overly directive at best, and autocratic at worst.  And as a result we produce churches and ministries that are rife with ‘learned helplessness’.  By overestimating our own worth, we help our people depend on us for everything.  And that dependence feeds into our need to be needed, to be the “idea person” and visionary, and to be in control.  We tell ourselves that the more we lead in this way, the more our leadership is valued and our presence desired.

Robert Greenleaf reminds us that the difference between a true servant-leader who is servant first, and the leader-servant who seeks leadership first, lies in the growth of the people who serve under them.  The test question is, “do those served grow as persons; do they, /while being served/, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

“Truly godly leaders empower their people, give away authority, value and involve others, seek the best in and from their people, and constantly seek to lift others up, push others into the limelight, and reward those they lead.  All so that God’s will might be done in a more powerful way.  They seek no glory for themselves, but find great joy in seeing others prosper.  They take no account of their reputation, but seek that Jesus’ face be seen in all they do.  Max DePree‘s famous definition is worth repeating, “The first responsibility of the leader is to define reality.  The last is to say thank you.  In between the leader is a servant.””

It’s time to reflect on the position of the spotlight.  Is it focused on you the leader or are you moving that focus towards others around you?

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