Opinions on faith and life

Servant Leader?

2009-04-18

Personally, I think that title ranks right up there with other oxymorons one could make up, such as Cat Dog or Ford Chevy. But we could also take it to mean one who leads servants-- which in ordinary, plain English means leader. In other words, you could say scout leader or song leader to specify what kind of people the followers are.

So who in the church is supposed to lead servants, since all of us are servants? The Bible gives requirements for any who desire to guard (1 Tim. 3:1), and the list basically means that those signs of maturity and purity that all must strive for have been reached to a high degree. And regardless of how one insists upon interpreting that passage, there are no definitive scriptures saying that only males can guard.

What kind of authority do the guards on the city walls have? They are responsible for everyone and everything within those walls, so does that mean they have authority over everyone and everything within those walls? Of course not. Their authority begins and ends at the wall that surrounds everyone and everything. After all, we do not put kings and rulers on guard duty!

So also, guardians in the church are not bosses; their authority begins and ends at the perimeter, and it means keeping false teachers away from the less spiritually strong. The guard, in other words, is a servant but not a leader, unless the exercise of their duty means leading people to safety, which again is not the function of a boss.

Some try to argue that Jesus was a servant leader, being both God and man. But what is it that He modeled-- and for ALL believers-- when He was here? Servanthood. Alone. He showed us ALL how to relate to the Father. As the ONLY being in existence to have both divine and human nature, ONLY Jesus could ever be a servant leader; NO HUMAN can model that!

Paul and others set themselves as examples to follow, so in that sense they were leaders, and the spiritually mature are still to lead-- BY EXAMPLE, not force-- the immature or vulnerable. Over and over in scripture we see people being advised to follow those whose EXAMPLE is like Jesus or Paul or the faith heros of old, but we never see people being told to knuckle under a boss.

So the only possible way for any believer to be a Servant Leader is to model the servant behavior, that is, to serve. Playing the role of a boss is modeling the wrong thing. And again, the great question is why any believer would even want to be a boss over others. WDJD? (What did Jesus do?) See Phil. 2:5-11.

Still want to be a Servant Leader?

3 Comments

Lin

"Personally, I think that title ranks right up there with other oxymorons one could make up, such as Cat Dog or Ford Chevy. But we could also take it to mean “one who leads servants”– which in ordinary, plain English means “leader”. In other words, you could say “scout leader” or “song leader” to specify what kind of people the followers are."

LOL! Good point.

I remember all the craze over servant leader back in the early 90’s when Blanchard roled out his training for church leaders. It was nothing more than regurgitated leadership training with a fish slapped on it.

Paula Fether

Yep. And it’s Orwellian doublespeak at its finest. War is peace, love is hate, to serve is to rule benevolently...

Paula Fether

UPDATE: great article from a different angle at Lighthouse Trails. It shows the subversive origin of this term, and it has "dialectic" written all over it.