To the world, leadership and servanthood are in direct opposition, but to Christians, servanthood is essential to leadership. Unlike worldly leadership, servanthood is not about title, position or skill. It’s about attitude. People are drawn toward those who serve them. Jesus taught his followers about servanthood.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.– John 13:14-17
In John 13, we see an example of how Jesus served those closest to him – and showed them the value of servanthood. Jesus and his disciples were in the upper room for the Passover. At dinners like this, there was usually a servant at the door who washed the feet of those who entered. It was a dirty, but necessary, job. The roads throughout town were dirt and the men wore sandals or walked barefoot, so they needed the chance to wash off the day’s dirt. None of the disciples stepped up to volunteer for the job, instead they started arguing about who was greatest in the kingdom. Jesus talked with them about putting others before themselves and not worrying about being first. After supper, Jesus tied a cloth around his waist, took a basin of water and a towel and began washing his disciples’ feet. He showed them the things he had been trying to teach them.
We can learn a lot from John 13, specifically about leading well. In his article, “21 Laws: Jesus and the Law of Addition,” John Maxwell points out the leadership statements below. Read these statements and then reread John 13:1-17. Write the verse from John 13 that corresponds to each statement below.
- Servant leaders are motivated by love.
- Servant leaders possess a security that allows them to serve others.
- Servant leaders initiate servant leadership.
- Servant leaders receive servant leadership from others.
- Servant leaders want nothing to hinder their relationships with God.
- Servant leaders teach servanthood by their example.
- Servant leaders live a blessed life.
Jesus is the greatest leader of all time, and he was a servant who challenged those who followed him to
serve others as well. Go back through the statements above. Put a star next to the ones you feel are already part of your leadership style. Now draw an arrow next to the ones you would like to learn more about.
What kind of leader do you want to be? List several specific goals for yourself as you become a servant
leader. (Tip: Start with learning more about what the Bible says regarding the statements you drew an
arrow next to above.)