Monday, July 28, 2014

Servant Leadership | 20 Ways to be a Servant Leader Instead of an Entitled Individual

Emmaus City Church 20 Ways to be a Servant Leader Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed Network of Missional Communities

How can Emmaus City Church embody Jesus' servant leadership as we love others in Worcester, Massachusetts? 

"Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me and for the gospel will save it. (And) Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many. In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called 'friends of the people.' But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. (Again)  Jesus (Mark 8:34-35; Mark 10:43-45; Luke 22:25-27)

As we begin Emmaus City Church and seek Jesus' wisdom in how to be disciples who make disciples, I've also been meditating on the words by Jesus given to His core group of disciples who would become the first leaders of His Church. Because as the first servant leader of Emmaus City, my responsibility is not to hold on to my position, but already to be looking to develop other servant leaders so that we can prepare the next generation to be faithful to Jesus and His Church.

In light of some of Jesus' words, I've made a list of 20 ways Jesus intends to shape the servant leaders of Emmaus City by His Word and His Spirit based on what He has revealed to us in the Scriptures. Using Jesus' method of comparison, I also contrast what leadership should not look like in our church. I use the name, "entitled individuals," because people who need to become more mature are often those who seek leadership for the title or prestige that places them in a position above others, rather than serving others because this is the way of Jesus regardless of any title being given them. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, I hope that future leaders will be able to add to it from what we learn together. A previous post from Soma School on "How We Lead Others with Jesus" has also been very helpful. For now, I pray the current list and the leadership info from Soma help shape Emmaus City to become more like Jesus as we seek to obey all that Jesus commanded us to do as we choose to love God, love others, and make disciples.  

Rereading this list and the post about how we lead others with Jesus continue to bring conviction to my heart. Thank God Jesus continues to serve Emmaus City and has promised to provide all that we will need to be faithful to serve Him and others in Worcester.

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5).

20 ways to be a servant leader instead of an entitled individual

1) Entitled individuals need to be focused on for what they've done for others. 
Servant leaders focus on Jesus and what He's done for them and for others.

2) Entitled individuals bring their past hurt into the present. 
Servant leaders bring the future hope into the present.

3) Entitled individuals soak in the world's cynicism. 
Servant leaders seek the Kingdom's realism.

4) Entitled individuals wait for failures to happen any moment. 
Servant leaders expect failures to shape their faithfulness for every moment.

5) Entitled individuals choose to keep a record of others' sins with them. 
Servant leaders choose to love others in order to cover a multitude of sins against them.

6) Entitled individuals demand others to repent first in order to forgive. 
Servant leaders forgive first because they have repented and been forgiven.

7) Entitled individuals want to be spoon fed God's Word and consume it to know more for their knowledge. 
Servant leaders work to feed themselves on God's Word so they can be transformed to feed others.

8) Entitled individuals wait for others to come and be discipled by them. 
Servant leaders go out to serve and ask to be discipled by others along the way.

9) Entitled individuals separate from others during trials and conflict. 
Servant leaders go to be with others during trials and conflict, including those they are in conflict with.

10) Entitled individuals accept leadership on their own terms. 
Servant leaders know they need to be led by others on Jesus' terms.

11) Entitled individuals casually read the Word, listen to the Spirit, and serve Jesus' Church when it comes conveniently. 
Servant leaders regularly pray and work to live off the Word, be filled with the Spirit, and build up Jesus' Church because they expect all of the above not to come conveniently.

12) Entitled individuals self-protect and participate when the activity fits with their personality.
Servant leaders self-sacrifice and trust the Spirit will shape them to become more like Jesus to be fit for needs that arise.

13) Entitled individuals fuel doubt with self-focused despair. 
Servant leaders face doubt with Jesus-focused faith.

14) Entitled individuals want only invitation and community to be the goals for their church.
Servant leaders ask for challenge and mission because those are Jesus' goals for invitation and community in His Church.

15) Entitled individuals want the glory without the cross.
Servant leaders know they need the cross in order to give Jesus the glory.

16) Entitled individuals want their Shepherd and His shepherds only to lead them to streams of living water.
Servant leaders trust that their Shepherd and His shepherds will also lead them through the inevitable valleys of the shadow of death and sit with them at the table in the presence of their enemies.

17) Entitled individuals are self- and task-oriented successors. 
Servant leaders are others- and worship-oriented doers.

18) Entitled individuals wait to see "success" first, and then decide to give their commitment to what they want to do.
Servant leaders know "success" is first bringing their faithful commitment, and then giving themselves to whatever God wants them to do.

19) Entitled individuals try to love their family, like their neighbors, and tolerate their enemies with their own strength when they feel like it. 
Servant leaders choose to love their family, neighbors, and enemies knowing Jesus can provide what's needed even when they don't feel like it.

20) Entitled individuals look at all of the above and think about everything they now have to try to do (and most likely will not enjoy). 
Servant leaders realize that all of the above is what the Father's family is about, what they get to do with Jesus as servants, and what the Holy Spirit can do in them and through them as missionaries (for their joy).

For an example of how this approach impacted the growth of Jesus' Church, God has provided it for us in the Scriptures. Among a small group of people under severe persecution in an insignificant area of the Roman Empire at the time, we read about Paul, Silas, and Timothy, and how they chose to be servant leaders of the gospel and for the gospel so that more people would come to follow Jesus through their example:

" ... we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews. ... " – 1 Thessalonians 2:4-14

Because of their, not perfect, but living example, we also hear how the church in Thessalonica imitated this servant leadership that reflected Jesus:

"We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers ... " – 1 Thessalonians 1:3-7

Jesus made it happen in Thessalonica. He can make it happen again in Worcester. God, make us willing and able by the power of Your Spirit to become servant leaders who are empowered by the gospel and the Holy Spirit with deep conviction so that many in Worcester will become more like Jesus together.

P.S. Another great passage to reflect on servant leadership is Ephesians 4:11-16, 23-32 (scroll to bottom of link). Paul is giving this instruction to servant leaders he had worked among for three years in order to prepare them to be Jesus' faithful church as we read in Acts 20:28-36:

"'Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.' And when Paul had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all."

Curiosity piqued? Something inside you being stirred? Go ahead and connect. For other updates, like and follow Emmaus City on Facebook.

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