Becoming a Servant Leader
I’ve been spending a lot of time the last couple of years forming a better understanding of God’s perspective of who I am. Many Christians today live a limited version of what I believe He was dreaming into when He made them and I believe it’s due to not knowing who we really are. There have been many movements and messages that have come raging to the forefront over the last couple of decades and there’s always been a message of “increase”, “prosperity”, “sonship” and “favor”. I’ve really found the core of the scripture used to support those messages to really inspire me to want to live my life out in the extravagant love of God that makes all those things possible. My identity upgrading out of one who is a slave and into a son or a companion of God has truly transformed my life.
I think the greatest benefit has been in my experience of serving out of love and not serving out of obligation or penalty. Leaving my identity in place as a son but embracing a lifestyle of serving has brought the managed tension of living a life after Christ in my constant crosshairs. I’ve seen greater things in the last few years than I ever have and it’s been in response to walking these two values out. In Galations, we understand that the prerequisite for surrender of a companion is to love them into that place of surrender. That love is laying down your life. It’s preferring others over yourself while maintaining a desire to do only what the Father is doing.
A popular term these days is Servant Leadership. I’ve been putting into practice some characteristics that I believe embody the values necessary to live out serving as a leader. Larry C. Spears, who has served as President and CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership since 1990, has extracted a set of 10 characteristics that he believes are central to the development of a servant leader:
Listening: Traditionally, and also in servant leadership, managers are required to have communication skills as well as the competence to make decisions. A servant leader has the motivation to listen actively to subordinates and support them in decision identification. The servant leader particularly needs to pay attention to what remains unspoken in the management setting. This means relying on his inner voice in order to find out what the body, mind and spirit are communicating.
Empathy: A servant leader attempts to understand and empathize with others. Workers may be considered not only as employees, but also as people who need respect and appreciation for their personal development. As a result, leadership is seen as a special type of human work, which ultimately generates a competitive advantage.
Healing: A great strength of a Servant Leader is the ability for healing one’s self and others. A servant leader tries to help people solve their problems and conflicts in relationships, because he wants to encourage and support the personal development of each individual. This leads to the formation of a business culture, in which the working environment is dynamic, fun and free of the fear of failure.
Awareness: A servant leader needs to gain general awareness and especially self-awareness. He has the ability to view situations from a more integrated, holistic position. As a result, he gets a better understanding about ethics and values.
Persuasion: A Servant Leader does not take advantage of their power and status by coercing compliance; they rather try to convince those they manage. This element distinguishes servant leadership most clearly from traditional, authoritarian models and can be traced back to the religious views of Robert Greenleaf.
Conceptualization: A servant leader thinks beyond day-to-day realities. That means he has the ability to see beyond the limits of the operating business and also focuses on long term operating goals. A Leader constructs a personal vision that only he can develop by reflecting on the meaning of life. As a result, he derives specific goals and implementation strategies.
Foresight: Foresight is the ability to foresee the likely outcome of a situation. It enables the servant leader to learn about the past and to achieve a better understanding about the current reality. It also enables the servant leader to identify consequences about the future. This characteristic is closely related to conceptualization.
Stewardship: CEOs, staffs and trustees have the task to hold their institution in trust for the greater good of society. In conclusion, servant leadership is seen as an obligation to help and serve others. Openness and persuasion are more important than control.
Commitment to the growth of people: A servant leader is convinced that people have an intrinsic value beyond their contributions as workers. Therefore, she should nurture the personal, professional and spiritual growth of employees. For example, she spends money for the personal and professional development of the people who make up her organization. The servant leader will also encourage the ideas of everyone and involve workers in decision making.
Building community: A servant leader identifies means to build a strong community within his organization and wants to develop a true community among businesses and institutions
I hope these inspire you to be a better leader, understanding we have natural tools in place that will always bring increase into everything we do. Our commitment to characteristics like these shape the counter culture that we as believers are responsible to foster.