“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~Matthew 20:28
It is always essential that we love what we are doing. If we don’t love what we’re doing, we’re not going to be very good at it for very long. And we won’t last. The body and the mind and the sense have to all be totally into it. the intellect can’t do much without the aid of the heart and the liver and all the limbs. And vice versa. We have to love what we are doing with all of everything we have. Everything we are.
This is not untrue for those of us in spiritual leadership roles. We must love what we are doing, regardless of the level of difficulty which sometimes reaches “eleven” on a scale of one-to-ten. And we must do it with hearty abandon. The desire to be a leader has to burn like a fire in our bellies. Obviously, that desire to be a leader can’t get the job done alone. There are definitely other conditions and disciplines involved. But unless you truly desire to be a leader, you won’t be. You might wear the title and occupy the office, but you won’t fill the role.
Today, I’m still riding a wave of energy and enthusiasm that built up inside me during our elders/ministers retreat this past weekend. Our positive and productive time together has everything to do with a group of spiritual shepherds who are truly seeking God and wonderful ministers who are serious about following Christ and a gracious Father who continues to bless me far beyond what I could ever deserve. I’m going to reflect more in this space about those powerful 24 hours. Later.
For now, I’m still processing through Leading the Congregation and the four interior attitudes of the leader as presented by Norman Shawchuck and Roger Heuser.
Yes, it takes great desire. We talked about that Friday night. But that desire must be correctly placed. Your desire to serve others must be greater than your desire to lead. As with our risen Lord, leadership is a means of serving. Serving others comes first and then results in Christian leadership. Robert Greenleaf says, “Being a servant leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That perhaps is sharply different from one who is a leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such, it will be a latter choice to serve… The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types.”
What’s the difference between leader-first and servant first? Maybe it’s in making sure other people’s highest priority needs are met. The best test, and certainly a most difficult one to administer, in determining one’s own servant-first leadership is to ask, “Are those I’m serving really growing as persons? Do they, while I’m serving them, become healthier, wiser, freer, more likely themselves to become servants?”
Choosing to be a servant-first leader in our materialistic and power-grabbing society is always difficult since it runs counter to the values of leadership for the sake of power and position and wealth. To become a servant leader, we have to lead in a way that reflects what we see in our God.
“That God is beautiful is no secret. It is written on every flower, on the sea, and in the mountains. That God is immense is not secret. All you have to do is look at the unniverse. What is the secret? Here it is: God is a crucified God. God is the one who allows himself to be defeated, God is the God who has revealed himself in the poor. God is the God who has washed me feet, God is Jesus of Nazareth. We are not accustomed to a God like this.”