The first servant leader in Scriptures was Moses who was described as, more humble than any other person on earth. (Num 12:3) (See Exo. 32:11-14, 30-35)
In the New Testament, Jesus summarized the idea of servant-leadership in stating, "You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. (Mk. 10:42-44)
Christ personally demonstrated servant-leadership by: (1) Selflessly relinquishing his rights as God and dying the death of a common criminal for us (Phil. 2:5-8), and (2) Selflessly serving the needs of others. (Mt. 20:24-34; Jn. 13:1-17)
The self-serving leader and the servant-leader can be contrasted as follows: 1
Self-serving leadership Servant Leadership
The leaders objective is to be served. The leaders object is to serve.
Seeks first to be understood, then to understand. Seeks first to understand, then to be understood.
Considers self-image, advancement, entitlements Values followers potential and achievement and pro-
of his own position primary. motes them before self.
Sees and treats co-workers as inferiors who do Sees and treats co-workers with respect as a team that
not usually participate in decision-making, nor works together to accomplish a task and make decisions are offered important information. with shared information.
Creates an atmosphere of dependence, using Creates an atmosphere in which others are encouraged and
power of position to manipulate and direct. power is used to serve others.
Rejects constructive criticism and takes credit Encourages input and feedback and shares credit for results.
Uses expediency as the main criteria; makes Uses biblical and moral principles as the main criteria;
decisions in secret from ones own view of truth makes decision openly and in consultation.
Is accountable only to superiors and shuns Is accountable to God and others and welcomes personal
personal evaluations as interference. evaluations as a means to improve performance.
Clings to power and position. Is willing to step aside for someone more qualified.
In summary, servant-leaders aspire to be great only in their service to others. They are committed to serving others with integrity; humility; sincere concern; a generous, forgiving and giving heart; and self-discipline. They relate to others by investing, empowering, caring for, and consulting others. They are willing to sacrifice personally for the well being of others. 1
QUESTION Which type of leader are you: A self-serving leader? Or a servant-leader?
1 Trinity Western University Core Values Statement No. 3 (February 5, 2000)