While driving along the other day I was listening to a song titled, “I Will Serve Thee Because I Love Thee.” It dawned on me that many people, me included, often sing or hum this song without thought, which comes real near to doing something in vain, empty of thought or feeling.
The modern concept of Servant Leadership is based on the biblical ideal of serving those whom we lead rather than dictatorially driving them as lambs to the slaughter. From listening to the song and musing the rest of the day I got the ideas for yesterday’s sermon which went over with the flair of a lead balloon. Most people love the song, but do not embrace the motive of service. I have spent a lot of time with people who are really into networking and networking is often the idea of meeting people who do something for me. This fallacious motive is covered with the old song, “All I am really doing is offering my service.” Sure.
Leighton Ford, former associate of Billy Graham and president of Leighton Ford Ministries said this about true leadership: “Whatever our career may be, true leadership means to receive power from God and to use it under God’s rule to serve people in Gods way.”
Serving in God’s way rolls off the tongue like honey fresh from the hive. The reason there is so much speaking and writing about God’s way leadership is due to the fact so little of it is demonstrated in the real world.
That we live in a give and take world is demonstrated on every hand. The simplest and perhaps most important leadership role is the giving of servant leadership to our families, each serving the other, with the knowledge that this example is given for the benefit of the person or persons loved. When this is true, there will be none of woe that comes when one in the family has a rough time, no weeping and wailing about how much we have done or given and all we get is a slap in the face. If we are serving in order to gain respect, financial gain, or behavior that meets our standard we are going to be sadly disappointed along life’s journey. Over and again.
Sir William Osler stated it this way: "We are here to add what we can to, not get what we can from life." Matthew records the revelation of Jesus about Servant Leadership in Chapter 20:17-28. In that passage He deals with the ultimate price of true leadership. He speaks of His denial, betrayal, humiliation and death. If you attempt to lead very long you will find the above a good map of the path you will walk.
A mother, saw the coming crisis arising from His suffering and being of a mind set to let no crisis go to waste, immediately asked Jesus to give prestige, status and power to her two sons, one to set on His right hand and the other the left. Before you criticize the mother too much, realize her actions and wishes are perfectly normal in a fallen world. It’s the idea of serving in order to get favors, which you or the person you’re asking favors are not deserved. Riding on another’s coattails is a way of putting it. This concept is operated in every way. President Kennedy referred to this practice when he uttered the grand words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Christ’s response to the mother is to the point as Jesus said, in my vernacular, “Woman, you have no idea what you are asking for.” Most who want the perks have no concept of the pain.
Christ clearly taught the truth of the servant leader concept in vs 25-27 when He stated the principle as the exact opposite of the world system. His is, give to your followers, the world’s is, take all you can from your followers.
The joy of family leadership is greater than the rewards of business in that the desire to add to the life of our closest loved ones, rather than build them to the place where they can give to us. As I understand agape love it is the kind of love that embodies God’s grace in that I am to serve you because I love you and having done all, I am satisfied with having given my all.
Most of us are not there, but it is the goal that Jesus has for us to emulate. Marian Anderson, the great contralto singer said, "Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it."
While reading the life story of Marian I wept when she said the greatest moment of her life was when she got a job singing in the opera in Philadelphia and came home and told her mother that she would not have to take in washing anymore. The woman could sing like a nightingale.
Copyright © 2014 Larry Lilly
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