Benefits for leaders who serve:
1. Serving God frees us from the tyranny of our own desires and ambitions and allows us to instead commit ourselves to God’s agenda, His mission, His goals—which are always good.
2. As we pursue God’s will, as we are called according to His purpose, we are assured all things work together for us (Romans 8).
3. God has all the resources required to accomplish His will, so as those submitted to and serving His will, we can rely on His power and resources and not our own abilities.
Benefits for the community where leaders serve:
1. Communities thrive when their leaders aim to serve them, and when leaders provide an example of service others in the community can follow.
2. True freedom is not found in doing what we feel like, but in serving the Lord as we serve one another. We find fulfillment in serving the Lord not ourselves.
3. In serving God we find unity of purpose, and therefore the ability to agree, collaborate and move forward.
Biblical inspiration and support:
One day Jesus’ disciples were arguing about greatness:
”33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’” (Mark 9:33–37, ESV, emphasis mine)
What does it take to be great? How can someone be first? Jesus answers: by being last, by serving others. This is not how we often think about greatness. But this is the way of the Kingdom of God…
Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…” (Philippians 2:7, NIV). He came, “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28, ESV). Jesus served. And it’s remarkable how often Paul calls himself and others on his mission team servants of God or servants of fellow Christians (see 2 Corinthians 4:5). Many now see Paul as a great leader. His example, after Christ’s own example, was to empty himself of status and to serve.
We see more of what serving might look like in this description in 1 Peter:
“8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:8–11, ESV)
We are to serve by being good stewards of the gifts God has given us, whether they be gifts of speech or “service” which can mean, “perform duties, render assistance, serve…”. To be a good steward is to serve others. If we begin at verse 8 we see all of this is placed in the context of loving earnestly. Out of this eager love is to flow generous hospitality, speech that builds up and speaks the truth, and actions that assist and benefit others. Out of sincere love we are to serve others with our words and actions… and this not from our own resources but “by the strength that God supplies…” (1 Peter 4:11, ESV). And what is the result? That God may be glorified.
Pouring out our lives in service to God by serving others is the way to genuine greatness.
 “δουλος,” which can also be rendered subject or slave.( See Romans 1:1, Galatians 1:10, Colossians 4:12, Philippians 1:1, 2 Timothy 2:24, and Titus 1:1 ) William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 260.
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 229.
Today, the example comes from The Example, Jesus. Read this passage and let your imagination paint the picture of our Lord and Savior, laying aside His outer clothes, picking up a basin, and kneeling at the feet of each member of His team and washing the dirt off their toes.
“3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:3–16, ESV)
Wash their feet
Pray for those you lead and ask the Lord what you might do that would be a way to “wash their feet” and serve them. Trust Him to reveal a way to you, and when He does, obey.
Quickly write down your top five priorities of what you want to get done this week.
As you consider these, ask yourself:
Consider taking time to pray through each of the priorities you wrote down, submitting them to the Lord and inviting Him to change them, add to them, or reprioritize them.
As we end this year and begin a new year, you may consider taking an extended time to prayerfully reflect on your priorities for the next year and ask the Lord:
A final word:
To be great is to serve.
When have you seen a leader serve well?
Unlike a competitive culture which devalues and even dehumanizes people, Christian leaders are called to value each person and affirm their God-given worth.
Benefits for leaders who are respectful of others:
When we show respect and honor, love flows freely and individuals, relationships and communities thrive. On the contrary, self-focused ambition results in leaders becoming more and more unwise (James 3).
Benefits for the community where leaders are respectful of others:
Respecting and honoring team members energizes the atmosphere. As we celebrate diverse perspectives and ideas, it enriches the team's creativity, problem-solving, and productivity.
Biblical inspiration and support:
First Peter teaches how Christians are to live their lives as they interact with human institutions. Peter writes:
“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17, NIV)
In this passage it seems that the honor and respect given have to do with the offices these people hold. I think we are familiar with showing honor and respect in that way. Paul, also writing on how to live as a Christian in society in Romans 12, writes:
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10, ESV)
His words seem directed more toward the behavior of Christians toward one another. Showing honor in this situation does not have to do with political status, but seems to be associated with loving one another. Here’s the longer passage to provide context:
”9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
(Romans 12:9–16, ESV, emphasis mine)
The idea of outdoing one another in showing each other honor has really captured my heart and imagination.
All Christians are called to honor one another. Leaders have a unique position and authority to offer respect and to honor others and therefore have additional responsibility to do so. Furthermore, as leaders model this attitude and lifestyle, they are examples. Leaders are to lead the way in eagerly showing others honor. Leaders should be giving away credit, affirmation and blessing every chance we get!
Christians are to communicate that each person is hand-crafted by a loving God who made them on purpose and desires to be in a living, fruitful relationship with them. He showed the great value each person has to Him in giving up the life of His Son Jesus on the cross so they may be forgiven, restored and have eternal life.
We are to value people as Christ values them.
We are to honor people as those God has designed on purpose.
We are to respect people as God has made all worthy of respect.
The culture of the Kingdom of God is one where every person is treasured, honored and respected. It begins with the leaders outdoing everyone in showing honor.
While at a conference hosted by a large church, I noticed how each speaker went out of their way to give long, honoring introductions to each other. At first it seemed a bit tedious to me, as I was not used to it, but over time I realized that it was strategic. Each person was showing honor to the others and it was contagious. I found myself wanting to call out and draw attention to the noble and noteworthy in the people in my area of influence as well. Honoring each other is energizing, and doesn’t that make sense—because blessing is empowered by God.
Comparing – a superpower misapplied.
Many of us naturally compare ourselves to others. The problem is, in comparison there is a winner and a loser. So, either we feel bad about ourselves, or we put the other person down in our mind. Friends, it is unwise to compare (2 Corinthians 10:12). What if God has given us the ability to notice people’s gifts, abilities, skills, personality traits… not to compare or judge, but to bless and affirm?
Let us respect the people we encounter as those made and loved by God. The next time we notice someone, instead of comparing ourselves or competing, let’s interpret the fact that they caught our attention as the Holy Spirit drawing our attention to them to pray for them and bless them. Let’s honor others by noticing and affirming the good gifts God has put into them. Let’s recognize their good accomplishments and attitudes. And let’s cheer them on. Let’s bless.
A final word:
The Kingdom of God has a culture of honor.
How have you seen leaders honor team members?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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