Achieving Greatness as a Leader
Key Scripture: “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44).
Greatness in the Kingdom of God does not consist in exercising authority over others but in our labor and service for the welfare of others. In an earthly kingdom, honor and authority measure greatness, but in the Kingdom of God, greatness is measured by humility and service. Service, not status, should be the goal of every spiritual leader.
Oswald Sanders, in his book, Spiritual Leadership, refers to the principle of servant leadership as “the Master’s master principle.”
Desiring to be better leaders, we strive to be servants to the Master, mission and multitude.
- Servants to the Master
The leader first becomes a servant to the Lord and His purpose. The leader’s mission and purpose in life, spring from his relationship with God. Nothing is more important than this relationship. Submission to God and His divine mission is vital to servant leadership.
Students of the Bible will agree that Moses was one of the greatest leaders of all time. His life is crowned with success as a leader. Yet there are no references in the Bible to Moses as being a great leader. At least forty Bible references refer to Moses as the servant of the Lord. The Lord never referred to Moses as “Moses, my great leader.” Yet on at least six occasions, God spoke of him directly as being “Moses my servant” (Numbers 12:7; 12:8; Joshua 1:2; 1:7; 2 Kings 21:8; Malachi 4:4). In Exodus 4:10, Moses referred to himself as the servant of the Lord.
Obedience was a dominant characteristic in the life of Moses. The Lord spoke and Moses obeyed. This is typical of every good servant. He sets his heart to obey every command of his master.
In Paul’s opening address to the church at Rome, he introduces himself first as “…a servant of Jesus Christ…” and then “…called to be an apostle…” (Romans 1:1). We are servants first; then whatever else.
- Servants to the Mission
A leader is great when he lives without compromise the call and mission on his life, and then inspires others to carry out that mission with him. The mission is everything.
The life of Paul furnishes an inspiring and challenging example of a spiritual leader who was a servant to the mission. His response to the vision and call of the Lord was more than a simple question. “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). Paul possessed unrelenting dedication to the Lord and the mission.
Paul’s writings attest to his being servant to his mission. When faced with many uncertainties and possible death, Paul said, “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus (Acts 20:24). When a prophet foretold that Paul would be bound hand and foot at Jerusalem, Paul said, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).
Paul knew that, as a man, he was expendable but the mission was not. It must be accomplished at all costs! He viewed the mission as being more important than his own life. Thus, he gave himself completely in service to God and man to accomplish it. To the Corinthian Church he said, “For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
- Servants to the Multitude
The leader cannot lead effectively unless others are as moved by the vision and sense of mission as he is. The servant leader will model the mission. He acts out what he desires his followers to do. This is what Jesus did while on earth. He lived in such a way that others might know the nature and character of God. He constantly served others to show us what we should do. As He said, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto (to be served), but to minister (serve), and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 – Italics mine). His life served as a model of what His followers would be like when they followed His example.
Only once did Jesus say He was leaving His disciples an example to follow, and that was when He humbled Himself, took up the towel and basin of water, and washed their feet (John 13:15)―an example of servant-hood.
Paul exhorted servants to be obedient to their earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart as unto Christ. He said this should be more than eye-service, as men-pleasers, but rather as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, and with good will, doing service as to the Lord, and not to men. (See Ephesians 6:5-7)
Paul testified, “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (1Corinthians 9:19).
There are over sixty commands in the New Testament, which concern some action or service to be rendered “one to another.” The only way to obey these commands is to be actively involved in serving others. To the Galatians, Paul said, “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
The servant leader is a servant to the people he intends to lead. He shows them by his lifestyle what they should look like in the future.
D.L. Moody once said, “The measure of a man is not the number of his servants, but the number of people he serves.”… read more.
by G. Randy Adams