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Being a Servant Is the First Step to Being an Effective Leader

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


It is interesting that most effective leaders were servants first. It happens sometimes, but it is rare that a person becomes a good leader without first having been a servant. In most professions, a person serves in a lower position before he reaches the top. The best doctors were servants before they became a full fledged doctor. The most prolific lawyers served under someone else. Therefore, if you want to be a great leader, welcome the chance to serve.

Most of Jesus' disciples were fishermen before He called them to be His followers. They did not know it when they were catching and cleaning fish that they would one day be "fishers of men."

Unfortunately, there are many people in the workplace and in churches who have the title of "leader" without having served and still are not serving. However, they are far from been effective leaders. They missed the class that emphasized that to be a great leader one must first have been a great servant.

An effective leader is one who has genuinely earned the title by serving others.
One of the worst mistakes a pastor can make is to designate someone to be a leader who has just joined a church and has not demonstrated his ability to be a servant.

No one is born a leader. Leadership is developed over time serving others. A person can be a better leader by knowing what it is like to be a servant. God knows that, Jesus knew that, and you should know it as well.

By being a servant, you get into the habit of doing what you have been asked to do. Then you will know what it is like when you ask others to do something when you become a leader. Therefore, it is safe to say that servanthood is training ground for leadership.

Those who have not been good servants will never be good leaders. If you are not willing to serve others, then don't expect to be an effective leader.

Greatness in God’s kingdom is found in servanthood. Therefore, any person who serves is one who has passed the first test of being an effective leader.


Jesus: Example of a Servant

Jesus was one of the best leaders who ever lived because He served. He said He did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). In John 13, Jesus shows his servanthood.

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Jesus was in the upper room on the night before His crucifixion with His disciples. After they had finished their last meal, Jesus demonstrated what being a servant looks like. Jesus laid aside His outer garment, put a towel around his waist, took water in a basin and began washing the dirty feet of His disciples who had walked on the dirty, dusty roads of Palestine.

After Jesus finished washing 24 feet, He put his outer clothing back on and took his place at the table again and spoke the following words to the disciples with clean feet.

“Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and do so correctly, for that is what I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example: you should do just as I have done for you."

If you want to be a great leader, then must take the towel of servanthood and serve others rather than wanting others to serve you. Blessings come from serving others rather than demanding others to serve you.


God's Want Ad: Servant Leaders Needed

Servanthood is the act of someone serving others. Christians should be servants to God first, and then servants to people.

Servanthood is the condition of people serving others instead of waiting and wanting to be served by others. Often it means putting others before one's own self. It is willingly doing whatever it takes to accomplish what is best for others. There is nothing selfish about servanthood.

The failure to serve should negate the opportunity to lead. Jesus said it best when He declared:

"The greatest among you will be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:11-12).


Maurice Malcolm from FL on October 26, 2020:

When we are in a servants position if we are wise enough we can gain knowledge of the various task in a particular field or institution. Being a servant also help us to appreciate our growth to leadership. Joshua was Moses minister meaning he was serving Moses. This was his training for his elevation to leadership position after the death of Moses. Joshua knew how to operate in humility and depend on God because he leaned from Moses.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 14, 2020:

Excellent. Margaret, many in the church today gain the power of leadership without understanding the power of serving others. In any case, great leaders are followers - they remember we all must answer to someone. What better way to understand that than to be a servant. Thanks for a great article needed in today's society.

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