A Christian servant leader guides others to grow in Christlikeness while following the example of Jesus. From the vantage point of Desperately Dependent Community, a Christian leader is anyone who is in a position to lead another toward spiritual maturity.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.Ephesians 4:14–15 NLT
Submit to God’s Authority
Ultimately the Christian servant leader is a slave of God — a person whose entire livelihood and purpose are determined by their Master.
May they know that you alone—Psalm 83:18 CSB
whose name is the Lord—
are the Most High over the whole earth.
God’s Word defines the purposes and the directions of all Christian servants.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16–17 NIV
Therefore, I give up my right to live as I see fit and instead choose to follow God’s ways.
But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.Philippians 3:7 CSB
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”John 3:30 CSB
Becoming a Christian servant leader requires that I make the necessary sacrifices to follow Jesus’ example.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.John 6:38 CSB
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”Matthew 16:24 CSB
The Lord rewards the sacrifice of a Christian servant leader.
If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.John 12:26 CSB
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it.Mark 8:35 CSB
Learn from the Example of Jesus
God’s Word also points us to learn from the example of Jesus how to be a Christian servant leader.
Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.Ephesians 5:1–2 CSB
For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.Luke 22:27 CSB
Jesus proposed a radical new way of leadership, servant leadership.
Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. But it is not so among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:42–45 CSB
As the Son of God, Jesus had every right and all authority to dictate and control. However, such was not the example that we see in Jesus.
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,Philippians 2:5–8 CSB
who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.
Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
Follow the Example of Jesus
As we learn from Jesus’ example, we must, in turn, lead by following His example.
For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.1 Peter 2:21 CSB
We follow Jesus’ example by living as a servant.
Sitting down, he called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all.”Mark 9:35 CSB
A Christian servant leader follows Jesus’ example of humility.
The greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.Matthew 23:11–12 CSB
A Christian servant leader loves as Jesus loves.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34–35 NIV
This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.1 John 2:3–6 CSB
A Christian Servant Leader Leads without Enabling
A servant leader must lead according to God’s direction, not merely seeking to please others.
Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.Philippians 2:12–13 CSB
For am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.Galatians 1:10 CSB
Depend on the Holy Spirit for Divine Enablement
In and of myself, I cannot be a Christian servant leader. I must depend on the Holy Spirit to enable and guide me to serve as Jesus served.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.John 14:26 CSB
A generous person will be enriched,Proverbs 11:25 CSB
and the one who gives a drink of water
will receive water.
Point to Jesus as the Example
A faithful follower of Christ points others to follow Jesus’ example.
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.2 Corinthians 4:5 NIV
As a Christian servant leader, I do not lead for my own benefit. Every aspect of my life and leadership is for God’s glory.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31 CSB
A Christian servant leader gratefully serves others because of the generous gift of God’s salvation.
Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.1 Peter 4:10 CSB
A Christian servant leader guides others to grow in Christlikeness while following the example of Jesus. This type of leadership faithfully and consistently provides God’s truth over time to promote Christlikeness.
Therefore, let all Christian servant leaders be committed to growing in Christlikeness and leading others to do the same.
And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.Ephesians 4:11–13 CSB
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