Servant Leadership

By Mike Mazzalongo Topic: Personal Spiritual Growth Posted: Sat. Jan 1st 2011
When I review the qualities in men who are fathers the one that I find most appealing and helpful for the well-being of the family is a man's ability and willingness to be a "servant - leader".

Today is Father's day and when you think of "Dad" what picture comes to mind? According to the advertisers on T.V. and other media trying to sell their products during this time of year. Dad is about "things." Stereo or computer gadgets, clothes or sports events, tools or BBQ's.

The idea of Father is someone who likes things. For some, the memory or thought of Father is not about things but about sadness. Dad is gone or has died. Or dad was harsh, or abusive, or distant. It's a sad truth that for many, Father's day is a sad remembrance and not a celebration.

Hopefully, for most, our fathers are remembered and honored for making an honest effort to love us, train us, and most especially serve us in their role of father. They may not be perfect but we are happy to celebrate this day because the good they have done for us far outweighs the bad. With this thought in mind I'd like to offer a prayer of blessing on all fathers who are present here today.

Servant Leadership

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
-Philippians 2:5-11

When I review the qualities in men who are fathers the one that I find most appealing and helpful for the well-being of the family is a man's ability and willingness to be a "servant - leader". In the Christian home the man assumes the leadership rule given to him by God (Ephesians 4:22-23). Unfortunately, I've seen this idea abused as men have mistakenly thought that they were kings in their homes and their wives and everyone else had to serve them. The type of leadership that God requires from men in their families is the type demonstrated by Jesus Christ and described by Paul in Philippians 2: 5-11. Note what Paul teaches:

  • Vs. 5-6 - He had the primary leadership role but did not Lord it over others, did not cling to it.
  • Vs. 7-8 - Instead, for the good of those He was over, He lowered Himself to their level in order to serve them, love them, and sacrifice His life for their well-being.
  • Vs. 9-11 - Because of these actions God honored Him and raised Him to a position of glory.

Also because of this He engendered the love, faithfulness, and obedience of millions upon millions in every generation since - and forward until the end of time. This is the essence of servant-leadership. One who has a position of leadership and uses his privileges to serve others for their good not just his own. This attitude is not reserved exclusively for men, women can be servant-leaders too, but when we think of "fathers" on this special day, the ideal image we can have is that of a father who fits the mold of a servant-leader for his family. How blessed is a woman and her children to have such a man as a husband, a father, and an example of Christ in the home.

Servant Leadership in the Church

I mentioned before that not only men, or "fathers" can aspire to this type of character. As a matter of fact, all of us in the church - young, old, male, female, new member or mature saint, need to aspire to this type of servant-leader mentality. Remember that Paul said to all of his readers in Philippians 2:5:

Have this attitude in yourselves...

Everyone is to aspire to this attitude. In Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul establishes what our goal must be as Christians.

14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
- Ephesians 4:14-16
  • Vs. 14 - Know the word, remain solid in our faith, not wishy- washy but firm in over belief and trust in the Lord.
  • Vs. 15 - Our goal is to become like Christ. The body (us, the church) becomes like Jesus, the head. The image is that there is a mature head on a child's body and the body has to catch up in maturity to the head.
  • Vs. 16 - This is how the body is to do this growing, this maturing. Each part uses its ability or function to serve the other in helping it grow.

This is where the idea of servant-leadership comes in. The goal is to become mature like Christ. The method is to have each part of the body serve the other parts of the body. The attitude is servant-leadership. You lead by the example of serving others for their good and the good of the entire body. The result, not just growth, but harmony, love, glory of God. In the same way that a family is blessed when father is a servant-leader, a church is blessed when its members emulate their head, Jesus Christ, in developing the skills of servant-leadership in the assembly.

Example of Servant Leadership

This is not a totally new concept. Many among us already practice this form of service and we can see their leadership every time we examine our church ministry flow chart (you can learn more about the 5 ares of ministry in our Unlimited Growth series).

I will use our flow chart from our small mission church in Montreal as an example. Your church may have similar results:

Not everyone who serves is listed. (For instance: Teachers / Nursery Volunteers / Communion servers etc.) only those responsible for certain areas of ministry. We have some interesting statistics for our flow chart when you examine what percentage of our congregation is involved in service. We have 70 people who are members or family of members here. 46 Adults, 10 teens and 14 children.

When we look at the flow chart however we see that. 19 Adults (11 Men / 8 Women) are involved or responsible for some area of service. 0 Teens / 0 Children are listed on the chart. This means that only about 41% of the congregation is involved in some way ministering in the church. The number may be higher because some do work but are not on the chart.

There's good news and bad news here:

  • The good news is that we are above average when it comes to involvement. The average is around 15-20 percent for most churches.
  • The bad news is that the Bible says that ".. every joint supplies" Ephesians 4:16.

Every member needs to be serving in some way for the body to reach full maturity, not just 41% of the body. Imagine how well you'd function if only 41% of your body worked?

Our goal of any congregation should be that you could point to any person in the assembly and they could tell me where they serve, how they minister, what it is that they supply.

Summary

Why this strategy, why this goal?

1. This is what glorifies God.

That we serve in the name of Christ and in the manner of Christ honors God and tells Him in a concrete way that we love Him.

2. This is what will cause your congregation to grow.

Ministry = Growth.

  • If we want to grow spiritually
  • If we want to grow in maturity
  • If we want to grow in numbers and influence for Christ - it is through service.

The more we serve, and the more who serve, causes the growth of the church.

3. This is what brings us honor.

God honored and glorified Jesus because He emptied Himself of divine might in order to serve us - even into death! God will bless and honor us to the degree that we empty ourselves of pride, laziness, the love of the world, and devote ourselves to serving in the body of Christ. I hope you can honor your earthly fathers today for their love and sacrifice on your behalf.

If, however, for some reason you cannot do this, God has provided one you can honor and even emulate as a servant leader in your homes, work, schools and especially in your church. I call on all of you brothers and sisters to renew your commitment today to begin serving the Lord while we have the opportunity. If I can be of help in finding ministry opportunities for you - let me know. Remember, volunteer means willing servant leadership.