Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership
By Robert Hudleston

Today’s leaders are often seen in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. Our self-serving culture with the me-first mentality makes acting like a servant with a humble spirit an unpopular concept.

It is as if few want to take the initiative to step up to lead for fear of ridicule. But how, many times have we thought, I could have done that better, or, If only I were in charge, things would be different? If you are in a leadership position, get ready for someone to condemn what you are doing, reprimand you for the way you do it, or, tell you how to do it.

Warren G. Bennis defined leadership as the capacity to translate vision into reality. But leadership is much more than that. Leadership is not always merely doing things right (that is management), it is doing the right thing.

Effective leadership involves the process of influencing an organized group toward accomplishing a goal, but it-is not restricted to the influence exerted by someone in a particular position or role because followers are part of the leadership process. Aristotle said, “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” To be a good leader you have to be good follower.

Taking on a leadership role is never an easy undertaking; so what does it take to be an effective leader? It requires commitment, caring, credibility, and communication.

Commitment starts with loyalty. “Loyalty above all else’ except honor.” Without loyalty, there is no cause, no mission, and no faith. The psalmist said, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall’ bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5). Commitment requires trust, including trusting in yourself, your abilities, knowledge, and -skills. The Lord will guide you and do the rest.

Caring is being empathetic. The easiest thing for us Christians to do should be to care for someone or something. But the truth is, it is not. People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care. The empathetic side of caring is understanding how another person feels, then placing yourself in alignment with that person.

Credibility is hard to earn and to sustain. We earn credibility slowly and over a long period of time. Credibility can be lost in a short time, if left unattended. One “uh-oh” can wipe out a thousand “atta-boys” in one second. The key to our credibility is our commitment. We build credibility, not by pretending, but by being honest with our self and others. Mistakes are bound to happen, especially by those in leadership. We must take responsibility for our mistakes and not blame someone else or ‘the circumstances.

Communication is the hardest requirement of effective leadership. There are four types of standard communication: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. We spend years learning to read, write, and talk; however, listening is a skill that is rarely learned well. It takes a conscientious effort on our part to listen to what another has to say and to understand what they are saying. Often instead of listening, we read into what someone is saying by their body language, and often we misinterpret the meaning and the context is lost. A leader must be able to listen “to seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This process allows our communication to edify.

The U.S. Army’s acronym for Leadership is LDRSHIP (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless service, Honor, Integrity, Personal courage). The first letters of these seven words represent the core values of leadership. The words “Loyalty, Duty. Respect” refer to relationship with others (God, family members, coworkers and bosses, friends, other acquaintances, or outside influences). The words “Honor, Integrity, Personal courage” refer to morals and values. The two words in the middle (“Selfless servant”) tie the independent person with the interdependent, the leader, the selfless servant. To, be a leader is to be a selfless servant. Jesus is our greatest example of what a true leader should be-He was servant-to all mankind.

Max Dupree, CEO of Herman Miller, Inc.., said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say Thank you. In between the leader is a servant.”

A servant cares, is committed, communicates to lift others, and has credibility. An example of servant leadership is the Good Samaritan. (See Luke 10: 30-37.) The Good Samaritan took care of a man who had fallen among thieves. who had beaten and robbed him and left him on the side of the road for dead. The Good Samaritan showed himself to be a true leader-he did not merely do things right; he also did the right thing.

The reward of leadership is not wealth, fame, or fortune; it is the honor of serving our God, our church, our family, our community, and our country to glorify our heavenly Father.

From, “Pentecostal Herald”/ February 2008/Page 44-46, by Robert Hudleston

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