Servant Leadership

In our last post, we said that an important safeguard against abuse, manipulation and control is for a church to exercise “servant leadership.”  Servant leadership should also encourage servant membership and a church where members are fully involved, using their gifts for the service of Christ, His Gospel and His Church.

Here are some quick thoughts on how we do this.

1.       A key element in our thinking is that the desire for church members to want to serve will come in response to God’s Word & the work of the Spirit believers’ lives. Elder’s leadership authority is rooted in their ability to teach because our authority is derived from Scripture. There is a real authority but it is not based on charisma, hierarchy or power.

2.       If it is God’s Word and God’s Spirit working in believers’ hearts, then our starting point is that they will genuinely want to get involved and serve. This is important because leadership frustration often comes when we try to work out how we can get people to do things, fill gaps on rotas, turn up etc. 

3.       We can quickly despair and think that there are not people to do things when there are gaps and get cross and/or proud thinking we depend on one or two, Good to step back and think about the different ways people are living Gospel lives. They may already be very active but the issue then is about wide choices

4.       The question then is about how we help people to discover and to use their gifts.  A person is most likely to be effective in ministry if they are doing what God has equipped them to do. This will often be what they enjoy doing t

5.       We should be looking out for the obstacles to people serving. Sometimes that means they can’t do a job yet sometimes there is something for them to address but what about when we need to change how we do things to remove obstacles. Sometimes for all sorts of reasons, they are too busy doing the wrong things. Sometimes training and encouragement are needed.

6.       There are always things that need doing regardless of gifting or preference and it’s best to be up front about this. Talk about needs and where you are stretched. I often find it helpful to liken this to the home. We all have things we like to do, you may enjoy cooking or gardening but there are also jobs that we need to muck in and do together. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like hoovering or drying up, those things still need doing.

7.       Servant leadership is also about example. This means people follow and see what we are truly passionate about and how we go about things.

8.       Two dangers arise when it comes to leaders setting the example.

a.       We model the wrong things.  People see what we really care about and mimic it to the cost of what is needed. 

b.       We model the right things but in a way that they cannot imitate.  We do something that is too big for them to replicate.  For example, do we model 1-1 discipeship, hospitality, friendship evangelism etc. or are we only seen up front doing the big events?

9.       Servant Leadership is not just about implementing big ideas. However, the vision of the local church will affect church life and often one big idea/change/decision has a knock on impact throughout all areas of ministry.

10.   Are we prepared to lose sometimes?  Putting ideas out for discussion means not all of my ideas get implemented and indeed that most of what I do implement isn’t originally from me. This helps model for members so they learn to share ideas knowing they won’t always be implemented also they learn how to support the ideas of others.

Those are quick jottings.  So maybe you will want to add your own thoughts and suggestions.  Also it may be that you feel one or two of these points are worth expanding on and discussing in greater detail.


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