SERVANT LEADERSHIP: LEADERS ENCOURAGE THEMSELVES
Leadership has always been a lonesome sport, filled with high flyer moments and trying times. A roller coaster of high highs and low lows. It comes with the territory. It’s not personal and It’s not you.
The greatest leader that ever lived, Jesus Christ - faced greater adversities than we can ever comprehend, and He was perfect.
There was the miracles and crowds; and there was the betrayal and crucifixion. As God in the flesh, He couldn’t make mistakes, everything was predestined; and even for the greatest leader with all the power and zero defects the weight of carrying out his mission was so heavy that he agonized to the point of bleeding sweat. Christ had to do what the mission required of its leader.
“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” ~ Luke 22: 44
Every leader is on a mission. God has sent you to do something that is going to have an impact on people you have never met and people you may never know. It’s the most noble of jobs to lead, but the most misunderstood title to hold. It requires the greatest humility despite having the highest authority and carrying the greatest responsibility.
“A leader... is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being led from behind.” ~ Nelson Mandela
Humility is the key to servant leadership because to be successful you will have to wash the feet of those you serve. Success for a leader is purely service. Do you ever wonder; ‘why did Jesus wash the disciples feet?’ Just a reminder, they weren’t spending all day in socks and sneakers with a good pedicure going on. Why did the King of Kings wash the dirty, crusty feet of his followers? The bible tells us that it was to show us what great leadership would demand of us.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
I don’t know about you but I know that as a leader I need that extra blessing. The only way to be successful in leadership is to do it God’s way. Any other way results in abuse of power, people, and privilege. That’s not what leadership is about. That is mis-leadership. The ways of the world are not the ways of God. We are told over and over again in Scripture to be careful that we don’t get conformed to the world. Our mandate is to be transformed by the word of God (Romans 12: 2). When we don’t do it God’s way, it’s all in vain.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves.” ~ Psalm 127: 1 - 2
There will be hard times, and we will make bad calls. Failing is part of the process. We must get comfortable with failing being part of the process. If we didn’t fail at anything then we would be perfect; but that’s not possible. There is only One who is perfect, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our imperfections are known to the One who called us. God’s will is supreme over all our mis-steps. Be at peace, knowing that our shortcomings have already been taken into account. That’s how we know it’s God! If it was us, the outcome of just about everything we touch would be completely different.
As a leader things will happen under our watch. U.S President Harry Truman was known for keeping a plaque on his desk that read: “The buck stops here.” Grant Cardone says, “There are two sides to leadership: The casting vision side; and the confronting obstacles and self side.” Obstacles can make or break us if we don’t know where to turn. When the pressure is mounting, go deep into your prayer closet. Common sense tells us that the best place to go when in trouble is to the person who can solve our problem. God is able! Imagine being David, when he led his men to war and in their absence their children and wives were raided and carried away by the Amelekites. His men wanted to kill him. What a weight he had to have felt; and yet he encouraged himself in the Lord.
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” ~ 1 Samuel 30: 6
Two things stand out. Firstly, he had to encourage himself. His men were angry with him to the point of wanting him dead. Noone was coming to cheer him up. He had to force the courage back in himself. Secondly, the source of his courage was in the Lord. He sought the Lord on what he should do next. Don’t make a move unless God has given you the okay. God’s okay makes whatever happens alright. Success for a Christ centred leader is to be in the will of God. That’s the measuring stick.
“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” ~ Psalm 94: 18 - 19
Call upon the Lord, He is waiting. You are never alone. God is always with you wherever you go (Joshua 1: 9). Sometimes we just need God to take away the fear in our hearts, so that we can boldly do the work He gave us to do. Leaders get afraid too, we’re human. In our humanity, we serve a God who covers our weaknesses with His strength. How good is our God?
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” ~ Psalm 34: 4
Go forward, head held high. Heart set in a position of humility. Ready to be the hands and feet of God in our generation. Be a leader found serving and pointing people to Jesus.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a leader? What verse did you find courage and hope in?
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