UNDERSTANDING SERVANTHOOD BY PR KALUNGI DENIS
KIREKA CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
Servant leadership is the stewardship which is achieving the mission by using moral motives, means, and ends, and servanthood which is promoting the best interests and needs of the key stakeholders. Servant Leadership manifests both religious and secular roots.
“We serve God by serving others. The world defines greatness in terms of:
Prestige and position”
But our Lord Jesus Christ, measured greatness in terms of service, not status, God determines someone’s greatness by how many people he or she serves but not how many people serve you. This is different from the world’s idea of greatness.
The disciples argued about who deserves the most prominent position and our Lord Jesus Christ told them if we read in Mathew 20:25-27 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This explains why leadership is different from servanthood, everyone wants to lead no one wants to be a servant. We would rather be General than privates. But to Christians, we are called to be like our Lord Jesus Christ who was a servant but not a leader yet he was a General, and he is crowned in his heavenly seat.
Principles that describe the spiritually mature quality of living as servants.
Suffering for Christ Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him, this links us to our Lord Jesus Christ’s conversation with Zebedee’ mother of the two sons. See in Mathew 20:20-22 then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
The cup our Lord Jesus Christ was about to drink was not of joy but it was for suffering at the cross, for you, I do not know your cross but I believe you have one because life is a series of problems you solve one another one comes.
Willingness to serve others, read Mathew 20:25-28 after Jesus had answered back the two sons that it’s okay you will drink with me the disciples were grieved/annoyed,” Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it’s over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.
Willingness to be a ransom for others, Mathew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. “So we expect other servants who desire to become Christ-like to do the same. See also Mark 10:35-45
A consideration of Matthew 20:20-28 and Mark 10:35-45 shows us that there are basically two options open for people. Either we will seek to serve ourselves, a choice that nullifies our capacity to live as disciples, or we will learn to live as servants out of a faith relationship with God through Christ.
In Matthew 6:24, the Lord stated it this way, “No one is able to serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. No one is able to serve God and possessions”
When we serve money, we are really serving ourselves and our own desires for what we think money will purchase like significance:
Security, or status. Money is not evil and having it is not evil, but if it becomes our master, it controls our values, priorities, and pursuits rather than God, and that is evil see 1 Tim. 6:8-10.
A mother approached the Lord, probably at the request of her sons, and sought a position of status for them. Why? Foolishly thinking that such status would give them happiness and significance, they wanted positions of authority, praise, and power Mathew 20:25
And some of us do not understand our Lord Jesus Christ because we seek our happiness and significance by trying to manage our own affairs and we get blinded to what we seek rather than following His teaching and to what His life meant to us.
Christ shows that His organization or organism, the body of Christ, is to function on the basis of service or servant-like ministry to others. Spiritually mature people who experience His life are those who have first of all developed a servant’s heart like that of the Savior. Thus, a true concept of mature Christian leadership means serving one’s followers and teaching them by example to be servants of others.
If we look at this mother approached the Lord, probably at the request of her sons, and sought a position of status for them. Why? Foolishly thinking that such status would give them happiness and significance, they wanted positions of authority, praise, and power. Our Lord’s answer showed that first of all they had been wrongly influenced by the attitudes of the world Mathew 20:25. Rather than thinking with the mind of Christ Phil. 2:5; 1 Cor. 2:16 as His disciples should think, they were thinking like an unregenerate world. Thus, if they were to serve as His disciples, their thinking and orientation needed drastic transformation to see Rom. 12:1-8?
When the other disciples got wind of the request of the two, they became indignant and a certain degree of division occurred among the disciples. This shows how longing and striving for position, power, and praise quickly ruins relationships in the body of Christ and creates disunity and division. Servant living does the opposite.
The purpose of serving others is to set them free to love and serve God, not to make them our servants or to serve our wants or needs. We are all responsible to serve one another, but never in order to be served or to satisfy our immature cravings, Matthew 23:11-12 the greatest among you will be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
“Greatness in God’s kingdom is never to be found in the position of power or in the praise and opinions of men, but in servant-like service to others.”
What happens to a servant when he or she chooses to exalt himself?
We see again that one of the greatest hindrances to service or servant living is the desire for some form of exaltation—position, praise, prestige, and power.
Those who take the secular route so characteristic of the world and who exalt themselves will eventually be humbled. They will not only eventually lose the very status they seek, but if they are believers, they will also lose rewards in the kingdom. Following the statement of Mathew 23:11-12, the Lord began to pronounce woes on the Pharisees who typically longed for status and praise. These woes illustrate some of the consequences when men fail to live as servants. Mathew 23:13-14
When we seek our reward now through the praise of men as did the Pharisees, we lose the power of God on our lives and ministries and we lose rewards in the future Mathew. 6:1-4. But why do we do that? In unbelief, we turn from resting in God’s wisdom to our own foolishness through which we seek to handle life by our own plans or machinations.
John 13:16 I tell you the solemn truth, the slave is not greater than his master, nor is the one who is sent as a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them. Meaning servants are answerable to our Lord Jesus Christ.
What happens to a servant when he or she chooses to be humble?
Luke 22:26-28 But it must not be like that with you! Instead, the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest and the leader like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is seated at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
“You are the ones who have remained with me in my trials Luke 22:29 Thus I grant to you a kingdom, just as my Father granted to me, Luke 22:30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Servant living will be rewarded though in the future. One of the hindrances to servant living is man’s impatience and his desire to be served now! Therefore, one of the keys to effective service is faith and constant orientation with the weight of eternity 2 Cor. 4:15-18.
John 13:12-15 so when Jesus had washed their feet and put his outer clothing back on, he took his place at the table again and said to them, “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 we do as he did we shall flow in the same anointing?
“The real test of whether we are truly maturing and learning to become a Christ-like servant is how we act when people treat us like one.”
In seeking to develop a servant’s heart, Christians naturally face the opposing forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil, all of which are directed toward promoting selfish concerns and especially the pursuit of significance. Even when engaged in religious or humanitarian works, selfish pursuits can easily come to the surface. While there are undoubtedly many reasons for this, two fundamental concerns come to mind that I would like to address.
1 People too often serve others from their own neurotic need for approval or for significance. The Christian community generally understands they are to live as servants, but our preoccupation with our own significance robs us of the ability to serve. Part of the problem is that in our society today such a selfish pursuit is no longer seen as a hang-up or as a disorder. In fact, it is not only seen as natural but it is presented as a legitimate need and something everyone should pursue.
It is more important today than children feel good about themselves than learn their ABCs. But the problem is that the world is searching for significance in all the wrong places and by all the wrong means. A search for significance as it is promoted by the world naturally produces the opposite of servanthood. It produces extreme selfishness and aberrant/abnormal behavior.
People today often wear themselves out, overtly demonstrating the Christian model while inwardly they are actually serving in order to feel better about themselves or to gain position, praise, acceptance, etc. Again, such behavior stems from the worldly model that operates from a different world viewpoint. As a result, many people serve in various capacities in the church from a host of false agendas. Significantly, after the exhortation of Romans 12:1-8, which include service to others, the apostle warns, “Let love be without hypocrisy” Roman 12:9.
If we are not extremely careful and constantly check our motives, we can fool ourselves. We can be engaged in all kinds of service while actually serving our own neurotic needs—desires for acceptance or feelings of significance or for control or for praise, position, power, and prestige. We can serve to feel important rather than because we love people and the Lord and because we are resting in who we are in Christ, complete in Him.
2 We need to identify and work toward serving the real needs of others and not their anxious wants. We live in a self-centered society that wants comfort and happiness. It is also a society that wants to be served by others. We might compare the many who followed Christ. There were curious followers and even convinced followers, but some were following from the wrong motives: some followed for political reasons thinking Jesus would remove the yoke of Rome. Others followed for food John 6:15. Regardless, the Lord regularly challenged these impure motives.
This false mentality manifests itself in the church in a number of ways. For instance, consider the reason many, if not most churches today, hire a pastor or a pastoral staff. The biblical reason, of course, should be to be equipped for ministry. As Ephesians 4:11 shows, the leadership of the church has been given the mandate to equip the saints for the work of ministry—servant living. But churches often hire pastors to be their ministers, not to equip them for ministry.
They want leaders who will serve them and make their lives comfortable. But this is contrary to the servant principle of Scripture and the biblical goal of leaders which is to help their people develop into true mature Christ-like believers. Leaders and disciples alike must recognize that having the wrong goal making the flock happy and comfortable ultimately leads to misery, not true happiness.
“Many of us place top priority not on becoming Christ-like in the middle of our problems but on finding happiness. I want to be happy but the paradoxical truth is that I will never be happy if I am concerned primarily with becoming happy. My overriding goal must be in every circumstance to respond biblically, to put the Lord first, to seek to behave as he would want me to. The wonderful truth is that as we devote all our energies to the task of becoming what Christ wants us to be, He fills us with joy unspeakable and peace far surpassing what the world offers.”
What are some of the hindrances to developing a servanthood mentality? As you consider the following, think about your own life and natural tendencies.
1 The desire for status or to feel important is a tremendous barrier to biblical servanthood.
2 Human strategies to meet one’s own felt needs pose another hindrance to servant living. Everyone faces the problem of meeting their felt needs by their own solutions and defense and escape mechanisms i.e., the things people do to protect their self-image or how they want people to feel about them. Rather, our need and responsibility are to trust the Lord for our acceptance, ability, production, and strength.
3 A poor concept of one’s self-worth, along with a faulty source for developing our self-worth, forms another hindrance to effective servanthood. As mentioned, people often seek their self-worth from the opinions of people rather than by the value God places on their lives according to His Word.
4 Self-centered living or seeking happiness from the world rather than in the Savior and His purpose and call on one’s life is another cause for failing to live as servants. This naturally results in a lack of commitment and in wrong priorities and pursuits which will leave little or no time for the Lord or ministry to others and the body of Christ.
What, then, are some of the consequences of a lack of servanthood in the body of Christ?
1 The opposite of a servant’s heart is self-seeking, which leads to consequences like jealousy, envy, disunity, and division. This is most evident in the actions of the disciples see again Luke 22:24-30. Paul’s exhortation and teaching in Philippians 2 are centered on the call for harmony among the Philippians where there was evidently some disharmony see Philippians1:27; 2:2.
2 Failure to get involved in ministry. As was evident in the disciples’ behavior in John 13, the absence of a servant’s heart causes people to simply sit back while expecting others to serve them. This is what can be called the “layman mentality,”
3 The church fails to accomplish what it has been called to do in evangelism and all the aspects of edification because of a lack of ministering people. One of the clear goals of Ephesians 4:12 in the equipping of the saints for ministry is the involvement of the whole body in ministry according to the gifts and abilities of the saints. In fact, this is a mark of maturity. Speaking of the goal of equipping the saints into mature servants, the apostle Paul said,
Ephesians 4:14 The purpose of this is to no longer be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who with craftiness carry out their deceitful schemes Ephesians 4:15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head.
4 The absence of a servant’s heart leads to playing power games or spiritual king of the mountain. This naturally leads to bitterness, contention, and division in the body of Christ. Again, let it be stressed that Jesus’ style of ministry is the opposite of the world’s power-based mentality where certain kinds of accomplishment are viewed as a badge of importance and power.
Learning to live as a servant naturally begins by following the Lord Jesus. As believers who are to follow in the steps of our Savior, it is important that we focus on Him because He was and is the epitome of humility, maturity, and leadership. That which most uniquely characterized Him was servanthood. Even now, though seated at the right hand of the Father as the glorified Lord, He continues to minister to us as our Advocate and Intercessor and Head of the body of Christ. This is tremendously significant especially in light of who He was and is. With this in mind, let’s review the following truth.
What good character should we expect from a servant?
Integrity, is an intentional lifestyle, reflecting an overall track record of honesty and good character. We will stumble here and there, and we will fall short because we are humans, after all. But true servant leaders are able to confess their sins before God and those they lead.
To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3 as a servant leader, perhaps the most important quality is integrity. It is the foundation on which all other leadership qualities are built. Proverbs 21:3
.Living life with integrity, especially in the face of challenges and temptations, is an incredible way to witness to those who look up to us.
Humility, Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
One of the most difficult things to admit to ourselves and others is that we don’t know it all. In Christian servant leadership, we have to be willing to learn from and listen to those we lead, because we know that they have value and worth. The truth is that they might actually have better ideas than we do or a perspective we don’t.
A servant leader is someone who has built-in space to learn and grow from the experiences and opinions of others.
Flexibility, I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12‑13
Servant leaders practice flexibility — they’re willing to adapt to their situations and surroundings. They recognize that life can throw them into unexpected situations or challenges. But instead of allowing those unexpected events to cause anger, confusion, or panic, servant-leaders recognize that God is present in every circumstance. They have the willingness to practice being flexible and actually invite change!
Resilience, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1‑2
Servant leaders recognize that struggles are real and life is difficult, but God is in control. Resilience isn’t an absence of fear, challenges, or momentary failures. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, to push through, and to press on based on the truth that God has enabled us to persevere because he is our ultimate source of strength.
Stewardship, when you hear the word “stewardship,” your mind probably goes straight to money. One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of the word is “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care.”
A servant leader sees people as valuable to God and stewards their time and talents well. This kind of leader calls out what is good and true about the people they lead, giving them instruction and encouragement in how to serve God well. Servant leader uses their time for God’s glory, not their own. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. — 1 Peter 4:10
God’s given so many different spiritual gifts to his people. Could you imagine what life would be like if everyone thought, looked, and acted the same? The world would be so dull!
Empathy, for a servant leader, is simply being able to visualize yourself in someone else's position. It helps you to understand what someone is feeling. Empathy is a key aspect of leadership. It’s easy to get hyper-focused on tasks and the work that we do. Work is important and accomplishing goals is to be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
Every smallest service is noticed by God and it will be rewarded. Remember the words of Jesus, “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded Mathew 10:42
Prayer for servanthood
My desire is to consistently welcome your guidance into how I lead. I want your presence and perfect wisdom to illuminate my thoughts, decisions, and actions. I know that this light is possible, and through welcoming it, I will be a more effective and joyous servant leader.
SERVANT-HOOD PART ONE