Summer Book Club: To Lead, You Must First Serve

Sometimes when a person in thrust into a leadership role too early, they execute the appointment as an authoritarian and tend to overuse force and aggression to get the job done. They believe that dominance means strength and greatness. I’ve seen this happen countless times, including in my own company. I’ve had people ask to become leaders within our organization, but because their motivation for the role is self-serving, they want the title more than the responsibility, they end up failing miserably at the role.

Why? Because to lead, you must serve. It’s an oxymoron that has baffled many people throughout history in business, government, and yes, church.

I heard it said this way once, “Service comes before greatness, but greatness is not a requirement to serve.” Or as J. Oswald Sanders says in Chapter Three of this Year’s Book Club selection, “Spiritual Leadership:”

We do not read about “Moses, my leader,” but “Moses, my servant.” And this is exactly what Christ taught. Jesus was a revolutionary, not in the guerrilla warfare sense but in His teaching on leadership. He overturned an existing order. In the world’s ears, the term servant spoke everywhere of low prestige, low respect, low honor. Most people were not attracted to such a low-value role. When Jesus used the term, however, it was a synonym for greatness. And that was a revolutionary idea. It still is!

How many people use the words leader and servant interchangeably? How many of us think that serving others actually means leading others? For many of us the concept simply doesn’t jive. However, Jesus makes it very clear in the Gospel of Mark that it’s exactly how you lead. “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be the first must be a slave for all.” (Mark 10:42-44)

As a spiritual leader, we cannot lead without God’s help and his will working through us each and every day. This can only happen by serving God through serving others. Are you ready to lead through serving?

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