"But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." ... Matthew 23:11-12
"It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." ... Matthew 20:26-28
The Lord provided the model for us all......All those called out as were the twelve, those called as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers, Pastors, and all those servant leaders that were given the task of caring for the Lord's flock.
Yet what has happened to our understanding of what it means to have a servant's heart?
Today many in leadership display a much different image than one of servant or slave. Their conduct displays a different attitude, one that wants to be served, lording it over, and using the flock for their own personal gain.
What would the Lord have to say about this? What does the WORD of God say?
The way of the Cross is the life of self denial and sacrifice. It is the life of servanthood and giving, it carries the call of death to self, and life in Christ. No man can serve two masters!
Every message to the Church carries the message of servanthood. The Gospel is a message of self sacrifice; One man died, so that all may live.
If the LORD clearly taught as the scriptures above indicated, that His Apostles, and disciples were to be servants to all, were do we as leaders today receive the authority to do anything less.
The answer is simple; we are called to serve the congregation of God!
We are called to be servants to all, and master to none.
Are there examples of servant leaders in the scriptures, who are they, what was their assignments. Author John Maxwell highlights a few in the following except from his Leadership Bible.
"The Old Testament uses several Hebrew terms that we translate as "servant," each one presenting a slightly different picture of the heart of a servant:
Ebed - A love-slave or servant. This term describes someone who is at the complete disposal of another (Deuteronomy 15:12-18). Likewise, leaders must be at the disposal of the Lord and their people.
Abad - One who gives up personal rights in order to work in the fields or tabernacle (Numbers 18:7, 23). In a similar way, leaders must sacrifice their rights and stay surrendered to the cause.
Sakyir - A hired servant who works for pay, by day or by year (Leviticus 25:39-42). A leader must avoid the perspective of a "paid professional" and flee when times get hard.
Sharath - Someone who will perform menial tasks to accomplish an overall goal (Exodus 28:35-43). Leaders must serve the mission.
Leaders must never forget that God calls them to serve. If our Lord could wash His disciples' feet as a "sharath", then how could we frown at becoming an "ebed"?"
Excerpt of The Maxwell Leadership Bible.
What are some of the Characteristics of a servant leader?
Being an Intercessor:
Understanding the ministry of intercession. Everyone who was called by God to walk in the offices of the fivefold ministry were intercessors first and foremost. You can not carry out this assignment without intercession. It is part of the ministry of servanthood, it follows the model of the LORD, who stands forever making intercession in our behalf. Intercession is one of the highest calling, it is a requirement for those who are to lead God's people.
Numbers 21:7, Isaiah 53:12
Being a Giver:
"And there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself." Proverbs 11:24-25
When we walk in a spirit of giving we are like our Father who gives freely, and we will see a continual flow through our hands. Giving requires self sacrifice and denial at times. Always preferring the other to self. Giving of yourself freely and with a cheerful heart.
Those who are takers, who operates in a spirit of lack are never satisfied nor do they see the and of plenty. This is the character of a hireling always seeking after self and what is in it for them.
Being a Bond-servant, Not self promoting:
"For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond servants for Jesus sake. For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness, is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we
have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;"... 2 Corinthians 4:5-7
How we long for the day when we are so yielded to Holy Spirit that we are indeed bond-servants to His people. Recognizing that all power, light, and glory come from Him, and nothing of self. Let the exaltation of Christ be made known. Letting His glorious light shine removing all darkness. Allowing God to position us and not our own striving after positions or titles. There is no room in this for a "take-over spirit", someone who is self promoting, taking credit for other's gifts, talents, assignments, or anointing.
If we develop these Christ-like characteristics and practice these things then we will live out our role as servant leaders with pure hearts and motives. What is in our hearts will be manifest in our actions and attitudes. By our love they will know we have truly been with Jesus. By our faithful service they will know we are following the Master.
Watch out for the wolves in sheep's clothing, you will know them by their works.... They come to rape and pillage the sheep. Watch their motives and attitudes!
But the fine shepherd cares for the sheep, he yields himself willingly to their service and care. Look for the servant heart in your leaders. If you don't find it, then look for a new fold!
Don't be mislead!
Those who will hear the call of the LORD will have to have a servant heart and be a servant to all, and master of none......For there is one LORD and Master, Christ Jesus!