“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of a leader.”
– John Maxwell
The principles that create success in the Kingdom of God sometimes look opposite of the principles taught for natural success. Leading in God’s Kingdom has unique requirements—rules that resist our human nature and challenge our mindsets. A primary example of this is the principle of servant leadership.
Servant leadership is simply to serve first,[i] as a primary motive for action. Service is meeting a need. Leadership is influence. Servant leadership means acting to meet the needs of our respective influence within the 7 Mountains. Servant leadership will cause our area of influence to become the Kingdom of our Lord.
Jesus showed and taught servant leadership. He was God walking on earth, meaning he could have had the greatest show of power and strength, but he made himself small in the eyes of man:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. (Phil: 2:5-9 KJV)
Jesus said it best in His own words: “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44 ESV).
Start with the Heart
Servant leadership starts in the heart before it is demonstrated in actions. Motives are the foundation of Godly servant leadership. Becoming servant leaders will require us to test our motives and let our heart be changed first. It will trade our selfishness for love, our pride for humility, our greed for sacrifice. Love as a motive will naturally create servant leadership in our lives: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 NKJV).
Servant leadership is not insecurity, inferiority, or weakness. Jesus proved servant leadership to be the highest display of strength possible. Only secure leaders are able to be servants.[ii] Cultivating this heart of love in God will make us great achievers and leaders. “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Daniel 11:32b NKJV)
Serving in Action
Servant leadership is often called the “upside down management pyramid.” In our culture, systems, groups and organizations are often built on a “pyramid,” where a leader is at the top. This leader—a business owner, politician or entertainer—began with his or her vision, and employed others to help carry it out. In the case of a business, for example, the CEO has a vision which middle management helps to organize and oversee while workers execute the vision and/or interact with the customer. Therefore, customers must come to the workers, so the workers can account to the management, so the management can report to the CEO, so the CEO can gain his or her vision. In this case, the energy, effort and focus all flow from the “bottom” to the “top.”
The servant leadership model reverses that flow. In the example of a business based on servant leadership, the very vision of the business begins with its customers’ needs. The worker’s priority is to serve the needs of the customer; the management’s priority is to serve the needs of the worker, and the CEO’s priority is to serve the needs of the management. In the end, the customer is the recipient of the greatest force of effort.
The servant leadership model applies in areas other than business. Government, family, education and science are all good examples of that. In fact, all of society, as it is transformed to the Kingdom of God, will be built on servant leadership.
At Christian International, our greatest example of servant leadership is Dr. Bill Hamon, who built 60 years of ministry on the foundation of being a servant. When he enters a building, he holds the door open for others. If he sees trash on the floor, he picks it up. He respects others’ time by arriving to appointments and meetings early; he expects no special treatment.
Once, Dr. Bill Hamon went to a church to speak and brought two young men with him as support. But during the ministry time, he instructed the young men that he would prophesy one brief word to each attendee, and that the young men would then be the ones to minister in great detail and anointing over the attendees. Later, the young men thanked Dr. Bill Hamon for the opportunity, and his response sums up the heart of a servant leader: he said “you are equal ministers and co-laborers with me.” That heart to see others as equal is what continues to open the door for his greatest influence, and it will open the door for your greatest influence as well.
What Our Success Looks Like
As a servant leader, our success will show up as the success of those we lead. Instead of a personal platform for our opinions, values or goals, true success will be a platform we create for others to advance in their purpose, and ultimately the platform we create to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Becoming a servant leader is paramount in becoming Kingdom Influencers. Servant leadership is rare in the 7 Mountains of society, but servant leadership is the only true leadership in the Kingdom of God.
[i] What Is Servant Leadership? (2013, February 1). Retrieved February 23, 2015, from https://greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/
[ii] Maxwell, J. (1999). Quality 19. In The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader (p. 156). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.