There are two major ingredients in leadership: relationships and being a servant. Neither of these is as glamorous as other aspects of leadership but both are certainly the most important aspects.
Most leaders are great visionaries and are extremely task oriented and love making things happen. Many times, paperwork comes before peoplework. Many people feel used or feel as if they are just pawns in a leader’s quest to fulfill his agenda.
Jesus was all about relationships. The entire Bible is God pursuing man in order to have a relationship with him. Jesus went through excruciating pain to have a relationship with mankind. Jesus recruited and built relationships with the 12 disciples. He had friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Different people supported His ministry financially which of course came from a relationship. Ministry is about people. Leadership, especially Christian leadership is about the people.
Leaders have visions that break down into goals. Those goals cannot be completed by the leader alone. If it is a large vision, it will take a great deal of people. Leaders must have a relationship with the people in order for them to follow.
A position or a title will not be enough to get people motivated in helping with the vision. If you are in Christian leadership, 99% of the people, you work with will be volunteers which means they don’t get paid. As Bill Hybel says, “Vision leaks.”
People have to be constantly encouraged and motivated. Tasks become so much easier when there is a solid relationship in place. If people like you and know you love and care about them and that you desire a “two way street” in your relationship, leadership will be easier. So the first definition for me in Christian Leadership is a relationship centered approach.
The second is servant leadership based.
In Matthew 20: 25 – 28, “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the 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 first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus taught a clear distinction between an authority driven style of leadership and a servant leadership design. Most leaders today in the market place wouldn’t agree with Jesus’ model of being a servant but it was Jesus’ clear model for ministry and leadership. Putting others interests first or seeing what is best for others and placing that above yourself or your own agenda is the example of what Jesus taught and modeled.
The Apostle Paul also shared Jesus’ leadership philosophy. He said in Philippians 2: 3 and 4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Humility and consideration of other’s interests first is what servant leadership is all about. Our attitude towards others and ourselves is key in forming a leadership style that matches the heart of Jesus and the principles laid out in the Word of God. Jesus said in Luke 22: 27, “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”