Our team has been working on revamping our discipleship book that we use with the pastors/leaders as we work in small groups (cohorts). JP Robinson adapted the current book from some work that his pastor had done. JP coordinated with Dennis Okoth to fit the context here in Uganda. It has been a good book that has guided many of conversations with the pastors, but, as with anything, changes, tweaks and improvements are needed. So, in December JP set out to revamp the book as we prepare to start new discipleship cohorts in 2017. He recently asked me to write the chapter on servant leadership. And it got me thinking…
The concept of servant leader is one of the most frequent issues we see in churches and pastors as we travel and visit our churches. The tendency is for leaders of churches to lead the way political or cultural leaders do: with power and authority. The people are there to serve their needs. It’s as if they have never read:
“But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'” – Matthew 20:25-28
The Son of God did NOT come to be served, but to serve. We see it again in John 13 and Philippians 2. Jesus humbled himself to be a servant of others. ALL others: His good friends and the one that would betray Him; His followers and the thief on the cross.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have many flaws. I am in no way perfect or even close, and God is still working on me in many ways. But that doesn’t keep me from pressing on towards the goal of being an imitator of Christ. And being a servant leader is at the center of that goal. So we will continue preaching Jesus as King AND Slave; Lord AND Servant. Because it is at the core of the Gospel message.
And lest we think this is a Ugandan issue, we all know many people who view leadership as a means to having other people serve their purpose; people who look to use their authority or position to maintain power and control. This isn’t an American or Ugandan thing – it’s a human thing. And we ALL need to let it go. We all need to let go of the reigns that we think we have, lay them down, and become a slave to others around us. Serving people has always been and always will be the most Christ-like – and BEST – way of leading.