18: Servant Leadership – Clearing Up the Confusion

Puzzle People TEAM

I think we all know that the idea of being a servant leader is a good thing. ?Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, says that the best leaders out there are Level Five Leaders. ?And a Level Five Leader is characterized by humility and concern for the employees. ?That is servant leadership. ?More about Colliins later in this post.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you know that He set that example for us. ?But I find that there is a LOT of confusion out there about what servant leadership is and is not.
In this podcast, I clear up the confusion. ?I hope you will listen to episode #18.
What I cover in this week’s show:
  1. What Servant Leadership is NOT
  2. What Servant Leadership really IS
  3. Definition of servant leadership
  4. A great example of servant leadership from the medical world
?Think about what the world and the media has as their view of great leadership:
  • Power
  • Wealth
  • Position
  • Being served
  • Control
  • Prestige
  • Honor
  • Notoriety
  • Fame
  • Book deals
Jesus talked about a different kind of leadership.??Servant Leadership.??Even as his disciples argued about who would sit at his right and left (seats of power) Jesus tried to point out this upside down economy that included a new view of leadership.
Luke 22:24-26

24A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25Jesus said to them, ?The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

So he made it clear ? the greatest among you will be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

Servant Leadership is not Slave Leadership! ?Let’s try to clear up the confusion?.


What Servant Leadership Is Not

Check out this great photo of two turtles that I use when I teach on this point.???Servant leadership is not like these two turtles.??We don’t need to or have to carry everyone on our backs.??That is way too much pressure on your leadership and I do not think that was what Jesus had in mind in John 15.??Check out when Jesus said about servant leadership the night before his crucifixion.?
When I was teaching recently in China, I asked my students to help me make a list of false views of servant leadership.??They loved it and came up with this list.??It is a great list!???I think it is so accurate because in most of their churches in their country these are the expectation of the church on the pastor:
???????You serve everyone
???????You do all the dirty work
???????You work 24/7 for the good of others
???????You are weak
???????Others take advantage of you
???????You are a doormat
???????You let others walk all over you

What Servant Leadership Really Is

Let me try to clear up the confusion.??Servant leadership is not carrying people on your back like that turtle, but in your hearts.?
We have to begin to be servant leaders by getting over ourselves and our own big egos if that is a problem we have.??That is why Jesus said we needed to be like the youngest.??The youngest child in the family or the youngest kid in any group gets the least position.??The least benefits.??The least honor.?
When it comes to great teaching on servant leadership, I always go to these three places in the new testament.??These are the holy grail on the topic:
  • John 13: 1-17???Wash one another’s feet
  • Philippians 2???Care more about others than you care for yourself
  • I Peter 5: 1-4???Be shepherds of God?s flock ? not hired hands

John 13

12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ?Do you understand what I have done for you?? he asked them. 13?You call me ?Teacher? and ?Lord,? and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you?also should wash one another?s feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16Very truly I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.


My definition of servant leadership:

A servant leader cares more about the good of the team than their own enrichment.
The test of servant leadership.??This is a self test, not so much for you to evaluate those above you.??Here are the attributes that I would say exhibit true servant leadership.??How many of them would be true of you and your leadership?
  • True humility
  • I know details about my team?s families
  • I have genuine concern for the good of the team
  • I have genuine love for the members of the team
  • I am willing to do whatever it takes
  • I am willing to do any job no matter how dirty or demeaning
  • I am fine when other people on the team are in the spotlight
  • I am fine when other people on the team get the credit
I already mentioned the classic book on leadership by ?Jim Collins, ?”Good to Great” ?His observation about “Level Five” executives:

????????Listened and learned constantly
????????Put company above personal goals
????????Valued employees first
? ? ? ??
I finish the podcast with the story, ?Me and the doc? we are fixing peoples hearts!? ?Dr. DeBakey knew everyone in his hospital, and treated them all with respect and dignity. ?The janitor told a news crew that was looking for DeBakey, “Me and the Doc, we fix people’s hearts.” ?The Doc made the janitor sense his importance as he kept the floors spotless in a hospital that operated on hearts.

Dr. Michael DeBakey(September 7, 1908 – July 11, 2008) was a world-renowned American?cardiac surgeon, innovator, scientist, medical educator, and international medical statesman.DeBakey was the chancellor emeritus of?Baylor College of Medicine?in?Houston,?Texas, director of The Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, and senior attending surgeon of?The Methodist Hospital?in Houston

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