I’ve had it in my head for the last while about servant leadership. In Christian circles, we are generally familiar with the term. Outside of that, it might be a little confusing. The basic premise is that in order to lead (that is to influence others) in a healthy way, you have to serve them.

The misconceptions abound, and I think that is why I wanted to hit this topic. Jesus was the perfect example for a lot of things…and real solid leadership was one of those things. Here are a few things that Jesus did, and how we can learn from them.

1. He didn’t just give people what they wanted.

Jesus came and delivered a message that was hard for some people to grasp, and even harder for them to live with. The Jews to this point were obsessed with rituals, rites of passage and procedures because that was how they interacted with God. When the Father sent Jesus, that interaction changed…a LOT. Now, instead of making sacrifices for various kinds of sin, one single sacrifice would be made for all mankind, for all time, and for all sin. Even though, for us, the all-encompassing sacrifice makes it EASIER to approach God, it can be really hard for anyone who found security and predictability in the animal sacrifices from the age prior.

Jesus came to establish a living, breathing and dynamic relationship between God and man. On that relationship hinges everything. That is NOT what some people wanted! How many times did Jesus chew out the Pharisees because they just didn’t get it? The key here is…Jesus gave what was sufficient, what was good, and what was healthy. Many people hated him for it (and still do), but he loved them and carried on nonetheless.

2. He Had Justice in Mind.

The Son of God broke a lot of societal norms, pretty much everywhere he went. Some probably thought he did it for shock value. He upended tables and went nuts in the temple. He hung out with people that a good and proper society would shun (terminally ill, drunkards, etc) and in general eschewed the rules that the cultural gatekeepers had established.

But it wasn’t shock value that Jesus was after. He was after justice. He knew that it wasn’t right that people were sick, lame, poor, blind, oppressed, unfaithful and greedy. And so he tackled those problems head on, and encouraged his followers to do the same. And here is the kicker:

He did whatever he had to do in order to establish justice wherever he went. He KNEW that he was there for the sick…so he went to the sick.

3. He Put People Over Programs.

This is really key. Jesus never invented a 3-step guide to discipleship. In fact, he never developed a comprehensive plan when it came to his ministry. The objective was simple: Be God with the people.

Jesus was so consumed with knowing the will, face and heart of his Father that he emulated those things. And what does God the father care about? Restoring people in every way possible, most especially into a relationship with Himself.

This doesn’t mean you CAN’T develop a great 3-step plan. It means that you can’t place your great program in a higher seat than God’s heart for His people. We do it a lot, but in the end, God doesn’t care about how great you think your program is. He cares about whether or not you are being His instrument in restoring people. We complicate the mission when we really needn’t bother.


When have you seen servant leadership exemplified?