I recently listened to Dave Ramsey’s podcast, “EntreLeadership“, on servant leadership. During this episode, Dan Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A and featured here on our site, was interviewed as well. Both Dave & Dan hold to the belief that the most effective form of leadership is servant leadership. So what is servant leadership?
In this talk, Dave admits that he used to believe servant leadership was a weak form of leadership. He thought in order to serve someone, you must be below them, a “floor mat”, and cannot lead in strength from that position. I too didn’t quite understand the concept of servant leadership.
What I learned from this podcast was that servant leadership is leading, with great strength, in such a way that other’s best interest is at mind. Servant leadership is not at all a place of weakness, of sub-serventude, but is the place of greatest strength. Even in having to lead through difficult and confrontational situations, one can be a servant to another while leading.
Look at the life of Jesus. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said that He came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In Philippians 2:1-11 we see that Jesus “made Himself nothing”, counting others more significant than himself. Jesus was sent by the Father to be a servant to the world. And yet, in this place of serving, He calls out to us all and says, “Follow me.” As a humble servant to you and I, Jesus has led those who have faith in Him into life eternal! Through His serving us on the cross, Jesus has led in the greatest way possible!
I think the biggest practical question I had with this idea of servant leadership was, “How do I confront or discipline someone and still be in a position of servant leadership?” This is where it is crucial to remember that servant leadership always has the best interest of others at mind. At times, it is in one’s best interest, and the interest of the organization, to confront them with what is wrong. It is an act of service and love to tell someone when they are walking in a way that is harmful to themselves and others around them. We saw Jesus do this as well when He would lovingly confront His disciples on areas of immaturity (see Matthew 16:23, Luke 9:46-48). It would be unloving, and poor leadership in general, to not serve someone by calling out where things are falling short. It isn’t always easy, but it can always be done out of love and service towards others.
I too join Dave & Dan in saying that the best form of leadership, the leadership I will seek to follow, is that of servant leadership. With the greatest servant leader being Jesus Himself.
Here are other Frequently Asked Questions and how the Bible answers them.