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Servant Leaders

Jesus, Servant Leader, Calls Us to Serve

"Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.'" Matthew 20:25-28

No other model of leadership so closely resembles the life Jesus led than that of servant leadership. Jesus describes himself as the one who came "not to be served but to serve." How could we in Christ's church today not try to lead according to the servant model of Jesus?

Jesus showed that the life of a servant leader is challenging but never should be without joy. Jesus loved his friends, enjoyed food and fellowship, and engaged in storytelling that intrigued his listeners. But in serious mission to embody God's love for the world and God's hope for reconciling the broken world to himself, Jesus became the servant of all, even sacrificing himself willingly in a painful death.

As the perfect human being, Jesus set the bar above the reach of any of his disciples. We stretch and sacrifice and carry our crosses, sometimes painfully, but then other times lag in faith, lose focus, become selfish, or put our crosses down somewhere so that we don't have to look at them every day. We stumble. Still, it is the servant leader's joy to pick up the cross and try again.

The servant leader is empowered by the servant role, partnering with Jesus himself; that leader lives in a covenant relationship with the triune God. The servant leader is free to fail or to succeed; able to take risks with confidence that God is present in the servant tasks of self-emptying love and compassion.

Can we embrace the role of servant leader, knowing nevertheless that we fulfill the call to servanthood imperfectly? The servant leader loves selflessly as Jesus loved; giving generously and graciously; and ministering to the neediest in the community.

The servant leader is equipped to help a community to overcome boundaries of ethnicity, religious background, and social status; to inspire cross-bearing among others in the community that may lead to forgiveness and reconciliation; and, ultimately, to create a place where new disciples of Jesus Christ will be welcomed and nourished.

Not everyone is comfortable with the notion of "servant leader," but for me the servant model is Jesus Christ as Scripture presents him to us most vividly. Can we in truth follow Christ and serve everyone? We pray together that God will make it happen!

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