The meeting began with an expert who was brought in to teach "new leadership strategies" to all of our department heads. Most leaders in this meeting had 50-500 subordinates under their direction and care. The expert spent the next 15 minutes talking about empathy and how leaders need to put themselves in the shoes of their subordinates. While I sat scratching my head wondering how much this "expert" was getting paid to tell us something I already knew, I was amazed that many in the room had looks of intrigue on their faces. Then these leaders started discussing empathy as if it was some breakthrough that was discovered last week. As the discussion went on, it dawned on me that these leaders really didn't understand empathy until this point. This was even scarier.
I've recently come to a crossroads in life. I spent the past 6 months helping to plant a new church and it's forced me examine what is really important. I'm a Type-A guy and believe that if you are going to commit to something, you go all the way. As a result, I've climbed to the top of my career ladder and I'm now in the 1% category. The problem with this is that I feel no significance in what I am doing. While I haven't pursued success, I have been pursuing significance and what I've discovered is that according to God's standards, I've been falling short. Don't get me wrong, I'm doing important work but I'm certainly not fulfilling the Great Commission, helping God's people or advancing God's kingdom at the level I could or should be (at least not in my day job.) The more I obtain success by the worlds standards, the more I want to walk away from it all.
One of the reasons why I think it's easy to fall into this trap is because we've been conditioned to have a Consumer Mentality. We look at situations, relationships and even church with a "what's in it for me" lens. I used to talk and think about church like it was "theatrical production" for my entertainment. Have you ever said any of these comments?
- "I don't like this style of worship music"
- "This church is too big (or too small)"
- "The pastors sermon was all over the place"
If you have ever been guilty of these, that's the consumer mentality creeping in. We go to church to honor, worship and glorify God not for our amusement or entertainment. The consumer mentality creeps into other areas of life as well, have you ever "networked" with someone for the sole purpose of gaining something for yourself? Have you ever heard someone say they ended a marriage or relationships because their "needs" were not being met? Granted, there are exceptions to all these examples but many times we walk around in life hoping to be - served, entertained, made happy, accepted or given an advantage.
Like my mom would say "He walks around like everyone owes him something."
Jesus told us to "go and sit in the lowest place" (Luke 14:10) "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." (Matthew 25) and the ultimate servant task of washing his disciples feet in John 13.
Jesus was our ultimate example of a Servant Leader.
A common flaw of our world is that many people think that leadership should give us accolades, power, prestige and positions of authority. The leader is the person who tells others what to do and get's served by others. Like my colleagues, the idea of serving or thinking of the needs of others is a foreign concept. Yet if we call our selves Christians, we all mutually submit ourselves to Jesus and part of our sanctification process is to become more like Christ in that we place others before ourselves and do nothing out of vanity or selfishness. (Philippians 2)
To clarify, a Servant Leader focuses on the growth and well-being of others and helps other people achieve their fullest potential and happiness, their primary concern is service to others needs. A servant leader invests their time, money and talents in the lives of others to reach more hurting and broken people in order to make disciples of them, walk with them in their growth to be more Christ-like and ultimately, advance Christ's Church and Kingdom.
This is what Jesus has commanded us to do in Matthew 28:16
While Christians spend exorbitant amounts of time studying, reading and discussing Scripture, how much time do we spend actually doing it?
Almost all of Jesus' commands to us contained words of taking action. Jesus was telling us and showing us how to Go and Do.
How do we do this?
- Be Christ-Centered in all Aspects of Life including Church
- Commit to Serve the needs of Others Before your Own
- Be Consistently Walking with Others and Growing them into Servant Leaders
- Be A Doer of God's Word and Work and Do it with Love and Grace.
This may sound radical or even uncomfortable for some but God has not called us to comfort and I'm tired of the worlds empty promises. As an Assyrian Christian missionary told me before he went into Iraq to face ISIS and help our Christian brothers and sisters in persecution, "God has called us to Go but he did not say anything about coming back."
-Esse Quam Videri -