According to Ken Blanchard (one of my favorite authors and thought leaders in the area of leadership development), servant leadership is a higher form of leadership that focuses on those being served.
I’ve held various leadership positions in ministry over the past 16 years. In each position I’ve learned one valuable lesson – if you don’t have a heart for GOD’s people, you have no business serving in the kingdom of GOD.
Later this year, my husband and I will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. During the course of our marriage, we’ve learned a lot about each other and have experienced GOD’s abundant favor upon our lives. I’ll be the first to admit that it took me a minute to grasp the responsibility of my role as a wife and what was expected of me. I had become accustomed to living the single life and operating with a single mindset that learning how to think less about me and more about how I could serve my spouse was a lesson that I soon learned would be the norm in my house. Most recently during a rather challenging pregnancy with our youngest daughter, I found myself witnessing what servant leadership looked like being demonstrated before me.
Here are 3 lessons I learned:
:: Servant leadership begins at home (well, I knew this one already but this became more real to me). When it comes to leading well, your home should be the laboratory where your leadership skills are tested and refined. It’s in the home where we learn how to serve – how to be sensitive to the needs of others and seek ways to meet those needs. I watched as my husband ensured that our home was taken care of first before responding to the requests of others at work or at the church. Servant leadership requires an understanding of prioritization – putting first things first. As a leader, making the affairs of your home a priority reflects the value you place on your family as a gift from GOD and your commitment to ensuring the needs of your family are met. Be careful not to be quick to serve the ministry at the expense of your family.
:: Servant leadership is selfless and others focused. Beginning in the sixth month of my pregnancy, I started experiencing challenges in my ability to walk and my energy level started to decline. Having an active 4 year old at home didn’t help the situation as toddlers have a difficult time of grasping what “sit still” means. There were times I observed my husband, after coming home from a long day of work, immediately finding ways to make me comfortable and keep our toddler entertained. Although tired in his body, he didn’t think about how he was inconvenienced but rather how he could serve us. As I observed his actions, I began to think how our actions are often motivated by the feelings we have in our heart toward those we serve. Is our love for those we serve genuine? Is our love selfless, not seeking anything in return? Leadership in the kingdom of GOD requires selflessness. It’s not about you but how you best can serve others. If you find yourself serving while frustrated or seeking recognition, STOP! You’re doing more damage than you are good.
:: Servant leadership seeks to honor others. At times during my pregnancy, I wasn’t the easiest person to deal with (it was the pregnancy hormones, I promise!). During those times, my husband made the decision to not only continue serving but to still honor me as his wife. As a leader, there are times when we’ll find ourselves serving others that have a less than desirable disposition. Our serving others is not contingent on how others act toward us, but is motivated out of a love for GOD and His people and doing our part to serve in the spirit of love and humility.
Now that the pregnancy is over and I’ve resumed my household responsibilities, it is my highest honor to unselfishly serve my family with joy and find ways to ensure I’m doing my part to meet the needs in our home. I find myself intentionally looking for ways to let my husband know how much I appreciate all that he does for our family and ways I can help him be successful in being the man that GOD is calling him to be. Shouldn’t this be our desire as servant leaders in the kingdom of GOD? Constantly looking for ways to serve others and helping them to be more like Christ?
If we understand the importance of servant leadership privately, we’ll be able to do well as servant leaders publicly.
Are you a servant leader or a selfish leader? Not too sure? Ask your spouse.