Godly servant leaders or godly leader servants?

Darrell L. Bock's picture

I have been thinking some about leadership lately. When you start to approach senior age in status and function, you give some thought to what you model and how you lead others, especially those younger than you. 

I am going to be blogging on some ideas I have about leadership. I did not find these in a book, so much as they summarize what I have come across both biblically and practically.

I start with a common phrase: godly servant leader. I like the phrase, because it does stress that leadership is not a function of rank but of service. For example, I write mostly to serve those in ministry, to help them in their teaching. That demands care in preparation and knowing what can help. 

Lately, however, I have been thinking that maybe the better phrase is godly leader servant. It does not sound as nice, but it means that the emphasis is on the servant role. When I look at the NT, I see one NT passage that discusses leaders. It is in Luke 22:26 and parallels. It notes how the leader servants Jesus desires are not like those of the world where power and lording it over others are the key ideas. On the other hand, servant (actually slave) appears several times and is a particular favorite of Paul. He sees himself as in the Lord's service, and not as a gift ot God, but as one called to follow where God takes him, whatever that might involve. So the NT appears to stress that even those in ministry with a high call need to see themselves first as servants. This is no surprise to anyone who reads the NT. However, I do think it impacts whether we describe ourselves as godly servant leaders or godly leader servants. Just a thought to ponder. In our own idenity and call, do we stress being servants or being leaders? Might it make a difference?

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