Robert Greenleaf, in his book Servant Leadership, talks about two kinds of leaders. The first is the strong, natural leader who likes to take charge, make decisions and give orders. The second is the natural servant who assumes leadership simply because doing so is the best way to serve. This is the kind of person Jesus is looking for (Matthew 20:26-27).
Servanthood is a motivation that drives behavior. It is a question of character, not of activity. It is part of a person’s nature, not a “leadership style.” A servant is not concerned about role, status or power. They are concerned about serving. They are concerned about laying down their lives for those they serve (John 10:10).
What are the characteristics of a servant?
- They are always concerned about the best interests of those they lead – over and above their own best interest.
- They are committed to the growth and development of those they lead. They mentor, they coach, the give of themselves to their followers.
- They have no problem with obligation or duty. Servants are willing to accept obligation and duty. Leaders like to be free to decide, to make decisions about their future, and often, to put others under obligation.
- They have a desire to be accountable. Servants don’t simply accept accountability, they seek it. The attitude of a person towards accountability is a good indication as to whether or not they have the heart of a servant.
- They care for those they lead. True care and concern is expressed in action. Servants shepherd those they lead.
- They are willing to listen. Servants listen, because they want to know how to serve. Servants listen to God. They understand that often God speaks through others – even to those they are leading and to those who may criticize them. Leaders don’t listen – they speak and others listen.
- They have a heart of genuine humility.
- They are willing to share power. Servants are always looking for way to empower others, even if it means that they will be overshadowed by those who are more capable.
Are you and I servants? Are we leading from below?
Read More on Leadership: From Below, Not Above
Author: Karl Mueller, DAI Senior Consultant for Church and Leadership Services, strengthens international partnerships between ministries around the world and churches in the USA. He joined DAI in 2014 and brings with him 35 years of ministry experience. Karl serves on the boards of African Leadership And Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM) and Community Health Evangelism (CHE).