Unified, Servant Leaders

by Dr Don Green

After studying leadership for over 30 years, and in that time reading hundreds of definitions for it, there is one definition that still inspires me more than any other.  I first heard it from a Theology of Leadership professor in my doctoral program. 

Leadership is a lifelong process of taking the initiative

  • to know God deeply,
  • to reflect His holy character abundantly,

and through loving relationships, 

  • to draw people together
  • to further His purposes in the world. 

(Guy Saffold, © 2007, Used with permission)
There are several reasons why that definition made its way on to my computer monitor as a daily reminder, and is now seared into my consciousness.  

First of all, it acknowledges that leadership is a lifelong process, not a quick fix or “seven easy steps to success!”  Secondly, it suggest that as leaders, we take initiative.  We are proactive, not reactive.  But let’s also notice what we take the initiative to do – to know God deeply.  Since as leaders, we serve as “stewards of God’s work” (Titus 1:7), we must have a deep, intimate awareness of God’s will and His Word to know what pleases Him. 

As leaders we are also responsible for taking the initiative to reflect His holy character abundantly.  Nothing less than leading like Jesus is expected of spiritual leaders in the church.  Consequently, we are to be molded and shaped into greater Christlikeness so that, in unquestioned character, we look more like Jesus, and in our unwavering conduct we live more like Jesus, and in our unconditional commitment we love more like Jesus.  

Biblical leaders lead through loving relationships among their fellow leaders and among those they lead.  One cannot miss the repeated emphasis throughout the New Testament on the importance of leaders caring for others.  Effective leaders understand that they are not filling an office or exercising authority but rather living in loving, caring, nurturing, equipping relationships with others. 

Leading effectively means that we draw people together.  We do not lead “Lone Ranger” style or autocratically, but by bringing out the best in others.  Rather than dividing people into groups we draw diverse people together to unity around a common purpose.  Finally, we are leading God’s people to further His purposes in the world.  We are not leading to accomplish our desired ends or our individual vision, but to achieve what God wants and to avoid what is unacceptable to Him for His glory and the good of His kingdom.

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