Day 274 – Servant Leadership
A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:24-27
Servant leadership. I have grappled with this for years, as I have found myself in a position of increasing responsibility. The majority I have seen around me (although not all) have followed a predictable leadership model where, in Jesus’ picture, they are the ones at the table, living the status, ordering people around, expecting to be waited on by those beneath them.
I have sought to do the opposite! The practical outcome of this approach ranges from making my own coffee in the office and offering to do likewise for others to engaging with “the workers” and not just the movers and shakers at London Fashion Week, which I have been involved in for years. I believe this has been in line with what Jesus would have done and expects of His followers.
Don’t get me wrong – a Christian in leadership still needs to exercise authority, aim high for the organisation, take difficult financial decisions, tackle “personalities” … and much else that is simply good management practice.
And I have found that my values sometimes clash with the requirements of my role. Here, I have prayerfully tried to consider how far I can bend the two, so they meet in the middle. To date, I’ve not yet had a situation that has led to breaking point.
There are risks, of course, in pursuing an approach of servanthood. For example, I have engaged less than I might have with my fellow leaders and I have been guilty, sometimes, of unhelpful self deprecation. This is not so good. But persist we must and getting the right balance is a challenge a Christian has to continually tackle, for lording it over others is simply not acceptable, if we are to emulate Jesus.
Father God, grow in me a right balance between humility and authority: serving those I lead, not lording it over them; avoiding self magnification and self deprecation. That You might be glorified in me. Amen.