One of the unfortunate legacies of the church growth movement of the past 60 years is the mega-superstar CEO leadership model.  It has tended to foster many traits God opposes, such as empire-building and self-glorification.  God calls leaders to advance His Kingdom, not their own.

One of the unmistakable patterns God has called leaders to live by is servant leadership.  This is one of the four core values of our family of churches.

Servant-leaders:   We aim to equip every Christian to be a servant-leader, in the home, church community and at work.  Anointed servant leadership, as Jesus taught and modelled, is vital in order to build up everyone in the Body of Christ, and help all to grow to full maturity and fulfil their God-given destiny.  Therefore, understanding and receiving the spiritual authority of anointed leaders allows us to live under its blessing.

Jesus told His disciple that the arrogant way ungodly leaders lead is not to be in their leadership calling.  They are to embrace His example of servant leadership.

  • Matthew 20:25-28 MSG “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads.  26  It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.  27  Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.  28 This is how I came, not to be served, but to serve and give my life away to ransom many.  (Mark 19:42-45).

Paul echoed Jesus’ mode of leadership.

  • Phi 2:3-11   Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  4  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  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…

Two awful examples of Superstar leadership

I was once with a friend, a local church leader with an interesting background.  He had graduated from a prominent mega-church Bible college and afterward was a student in their advanced mission school.  While there, he’d been responsible for transporting high-profile “ministers” who came to “do ministry.”  He spoke of a shocking experience that revealed superstar, not servant leadership.

One minister flew with his entourage to their nation in his private jet.  They had booked the most expensive, affluent hotel in their large Scandinavian city for that minister and his group.  When they arrived at the hotel door, the famous preacher said suddenly, “This won’t work; we need something better.”  They found an exclusive resort about 100 miles away.  They had to reserve the whole place at great expense to satisfy the leader.

This doesn’t sound much like Jesus, “The Son of man has nowhere to lay His head” (Mt 8:20, Lk 9:58) or Paul, “I have learned to be content and get along with a small amount or prosperity,” (Phil 4:12).

My friend’s story reminded me of another account a leader in Alabama gave of a preacher who arrived at a church in a limousine and was whisked into a private waiting room behind the stage area.

The evangelist gave specific instructions to leave his limousine’s engine running (I guess he wasn’t concerned about rising gas prices) so that the temperature inside his car would remain constant.  The evangelist then preached to the waiting crowd, took up his own offering and retired to the waiting room for some refreshments.  Then he left the church with his entourage without even speaking to the host pastor.

I like how the reporting leader identified the heart of the problem, too much superstar leadership and too little servant leadership.

We’ve created a monster—a version of Christianity that is slick, marketable and event-driven but lacking in any authentic impact.  It is as one-dimensional as a flat-screen TV—and a total turnoff to people who are starving for genuine relationships.


Essential Traits in Becoming Humble Servant Leaders

True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.” ― John C. Maxwell

Holy Spirit discerned self-awareness.  Servant leaders consistently walk with Holy Spirit to be aware of self-initiated feelings and motivations rather than God-initiated ones.   As they do, “by the Spirit, they put to death the deeds of the flesh.” (Romans 8:13, Galatians 5:19-25).

Become a chief repenter Biblical leaders must be the chief repenters in a congregation of repenters because servant leaders walk in Holy Spirit self-awareness. They quickly repent when their behavior and motivations gravitate towards selfishness.

Seek God for empathy towards others.  Because servant leaders care about others, they express the heart of the resurrected Jesus, our “high priest who is able to be touched by the feelings of our feeble flesh,” (Heb 4:15).  This is part of caring.

Make sure you draw near and listen to others.  Like Jesus, our faithful high priest, servant leaders want to know and identify with what the people they serve are going through (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Seek to bring healing to people.  Like the good shepherds Jesus mentions in his word, servant leaders first seek to support, heal, and lead in good paths those they care for (following God and His word John 10:7-18).

Seek to build God’s people into family relationships, not simply meeting attendees who are spectators of your gift.  Why, because this is the nature of God’s house and the need of all humanity (Psalms 68:6-7).  Paul desired this and tried to do this for everyone, even those he hadn’t met yet (Col 2:1-3).  He knew this was God’s design for His people and beneficial for everyone.

Be humble and willing to take the low place.  They sleep where their people sleep and eat where their people eat.

Revel in the success of others and consistently put them in the spotlight.  Servant leaders tend to live with the Godhead’s attitude towards each other.  Their greatest joy is to see others exalted (Matthew 3:16-17, John 8:28, 54, 13:31-32, 14:10, 16:35, 17:5, Philippians 2:3-9, Romans 12:9-10).  Paul delighted in the success of others whom he called “my joy and my crown,” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, Philippians 4:1).  There is no jealousy or envy with them.  Servant leaders take the spotlight off themselves and put it on others.  You find them doing this in conversations and interactions.

Look out for other’s needs to be met ahead of your own.  This means being faithful in what you do to help others (Matthew 25:21-23, Luke 19:11).  This was the attitude of Jesus and His call for His leaders (Philippians 2, Mark 10:42-45, Matthew 28:10-1-28).

Quit trying to promote yourself or your brand in every aspect of your life.  Be careful if you are subtly thinking of creative ways to promote your life, teachings, ideas, material, or opinions.  Have the attitude of John the Baptist, “Jesus must become more important, while I become less important” (John 3:30 CEV).

Watch out for the drive to be admired.  If your emotions rise or fall based on the number of “likes” or “shares,” you may have a problem.  If you continually check out your social media or website to see how many followers or responses you get, it may indicate a drive to be admired rather than for God to be glorified.

Be careful and crucify any motive that identifies your service area as an extension of your territory.  We are not building my church, my ministry, my gift, or my area of service.  We seek first His Kingdom, not ours.

Ask yourself some questions before God about the relationships you have.  “Whose success am I desiring above my own” (Philippians 2)?  Do you walk in any family/team relationships that Jesus described in His Last Supper teaching (John 13-17) where greatness is connected to serving them for their advancement, not being served for your advancement?

Let’s ensure that God’s glory is at the center of any platform God gives us.  It is most clearly revealed by promoting Jesus and laying down our lives for the success and advancement of others