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Servant Leadership Is An Upside Down Pyramid?


upside down pyramid depicting servant leadership

Doesn't everyone know that leadership is a pyramid structure with the CEO or President at the top and all the workers on the bottom?


So, why isn't servant leadership the same? Am I saying that servant leadership serves the masses while regular corporate leadership is served by the masses?


YES! That is exactly what I am saying. And, if corporate America operates from a servant leadership practice, they will be blessed, as servant leadership is what Jesus portrayed to and for us. HE is our example and paved the way in love.


A long time ago I read a book titled, Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders, and in chapter 1 on page 23, he talks about the Master's Master Principle. I looked up the second work, Master, which is used as an adjective of Principle. The meaning of this adjective is one of having chief authority or dominance. Therefore, God's dominant principle, according to J. Oswald Sanders, is found in Mark 10:43-44 which says, "Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all."


So how do we become a slave/server of others? We do this by dying to self. God promises that as we die to ourselves, we will actually find ourselves. Many people are looking for love or themselves in all the wrong places and to find themselves, they can lay down their lives, which means to not put themselves on their life's throne (which is not being a doormat). Matthew 10:30 says, "He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." I learned to die to self in my first marriage where my needs were not being met. I cried and cried out to the Lord and remember driving down the road, banging on the steering wheel, yelling, "MUST I DIE DAILY?" And what I heard was, YES. So, I dried my tears and set my eyes as flint to do just that and to love my husband and serve him regardless, while trusting God to lead and guide me in next steps.


Our job, as Christinas, as ambassadors of Christ, is to be and give love.


During the 3 years or so of Jesus' ministry, there are countless examples of Him staying with the crowds and giving them love. Later, He would take time to refresh Himself. One example in particular is when Jesus withdrew from where the Pharisees were and a great multitude followed Him, and He healed them all. (Matt 12: 14-15) He healed a multitude of people which would have taken up His time. Likely a lot of time. Jesus took the time and healed the people because He loved them and likely to also show that God, the Father, loved them and was in their midst.


If you have ever worked with people, you know that it can be exhausting and/or energizing. How it affects us is largely dependent on our heart attitude as well as the heart attitude of those we are serving. Since we can only be in charge of our own attitude, what is our attitude to be that will get us through whatever service we are doing and so our service is effective?


In my experience, the only way to have abundant energy in the service of others is to love them and seek to meet their needs. Whatever the need may be and whether I am the one to meet their needs or not is not the question. We all have a network of people that do many things. Being a nurse and working with lots of ministries in the past, if someone has a need, I normally can refer them to a book, a service that can support their time of need, or am able to help them myself. Since Jesus served with a heart attitude of love for our fellow man, so are we, as again, He is our example.


There is a catch, though. In order to meet someone's needs, you need to take your time to listen and hear what an individual is really saying. Doing this is serving another and many folks are not willing to spend the time. Are you willing? It takes a lot of time and attention to hear what someone else is saying and requires not thinking of yourself and your needs, but the other's needs. It also requires you to not think of what you will say as a response but to really listen and hear what someone is saying to you.


  1. Listening and hearing a person's heart & need is how you first serve them.

  2. Second is seeing if there is any collaboration or direction that can be taken to meet the need that has been identified.


How precious and holy is a time of touching another in their time of need! It just requires you and me sacrificing ourselves and our time to do so. I have also experienced that as I have done the above, more and more individuals reach out to me as they know I care and then, servant leadership happens naturally, through love. Everyone's heart feels GREAT as there's no manipulation or taking advantage of one another. It's AWESOME and the only way to live, which has been God's way from the beginning of time.


Before I close, I just want to add that while loving and serving others is listening to and meeting their needs, it doesn't mean that we are to "take on" everyone's needs. We are responsible to do what we can, and the individual is responsible to follow-up and if needed, change or seek other support in changing. This blog doesn't really do this subject justice as a book would be required! But, as mentioned above, one has been written and I recommend reading that one or this one: The Making of a Christian Leader by Ted W. Engstrom.


God bless and enjoy your journey!


Nancy





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