Literature Review

Literature Review

Conduct a literature review of the major studies of servant leadership. Note that every line in a literature review must be properly cited.

• You must cite 15 scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles in your literature review section.
• Based upon this literature review, you must develop the major criteria of servant leadership behavior.
• You may include as part of your criteria a brief summary from your individual Biblical Integration Project (attached).
• This part is to be 3 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, double-spaced, and in the APA current edition

Biblical Integration in Human Resource Management

School of Business Liberty University

Man-Centered and Christ-Centered Servant Leadership

Servant leadership has become a notable approach within the domain of Human Resource Management (HRM) (Deno, 2017). This leadership model is examined through two primary perspectives: man-centered (contemporary/worldly) and Christ-centered (biblical) approaches. This paper aims to explore these dimensions, analyzing their underlying assumptions, practices, and implications for HRM. By scrutinizing the man-centered perspective through a biblical lens and establishing a robust foundation for Christ-centered leadership, the paper seeks to delineate the core differences and alignments between these paradigms.

From a man-centered perspective, servant leadership involves uplifting individuals and promoting service within an organizational framework. Although this perspective recognizes the significance of contributing to others' well-being, it often lacks a profound moral foundation rooted in eternal values provided by religious scriptures such as the Bible. Consequently, man-centered servant leadership treats leadership as an end rather than a means to a spiritual goal (Coley et al., 2023). Managers operating within this paradigm might emphasize empowering people and achieving organizational goals and self-interests, often sidelining implicit spiritual dimensions. Moreover, this perspective does not always acknowledge one's sinfulness and the need for salvation through Jesus Christ (Deno, 2017). Thus, while individuals might exhibit humility and empathy, those without a Biblical worldview can practice servant leadership without spiritual transformation.

Conversely, Christ-centered servant leadership is founded on scriptural principles that differ from man-centered approaches. This perspective asserts that Christ-like servant leadership emanates from faith in Christ and the desire to emulate Him (McLeroy, 2023). A Biblical worldview acknowledges the nature of sin and the necessity of salvation through Jesus Christ. Leaders within this paradigm understand that authentic servant leadership is unattainable without recognizing their need for God and their willingness to obey Him (Huizing, 2022; Riddlebarger, 2024). An essential aspect of Christ-centered servant leadership is the biblical notion of covenant, which promotes accountability, reciprocity, continuous communication, and cooperation due to the interdependence of individuals within a community or organization (Pleasant, 2021). By adopting this covenantal perspective, leaders can cultivate an organizational culture grounded in accountability, mutual responsibility, and respect. This approach emphasizes the importance of each individual's contribution to the collective well-being, decentralizes power, and fosters collaboration and trust. Leaders who adhere to this framework prioritize serving others and empowering team members, thereby creating a workplace characterized by integrity and humility.

The Bible supports this paradigm, stating, “…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” (Matthew 20:26-28, New International Version). Philippians 2:3-4 (New International Version) also underscores, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

In HRM, man-centered and Christ-centered servant leadership have significant implications for organizational culture, employee engagement, and overall effectiveness. Man-centered servant leadership in HRM may focus on maximizing employee productivity without necessarily adhering to spiritual or moral values. While initiatives such as employee empowerment and development are crucial, they may lack the transformative potential inherent in follower-leader practices guided by biblical teachings (Zheng, 2023). Conversely, Christ-centered servant leadership in HRM integrates spirituality and Christian teachings into organizational practices. Managers who embrace this approach aim to develop a workplace that is ethical, humane, and focused on the well-being of others (Stites, 2021). This transformative potential of Christ-centered servant leadership can inspire and bring hope for a more meaningful and fulfilling work environment.

Implementing man-centered servant leadership in HRM involves creating a collaborative workplace culture through participative decision-making, extensive training, and incentives encouraging teamwork and creativity. There is a significant emphasis on staff training and development, with leaders striving to enhance employee performance and career advancement (Moore, 2024). Additionally, telecommuting and wellness programs are promoted to improve work-life balance, thereby enhancing overall morale and productivity.

On the other hand, implementing Christ-centered servant leadership in HRM involves several approaches aimed at fostering an organizational culture rooted in biblical values and the leadership style of Jesus Christ. Firstly, HRM leaders can create a culture of servant leadership by emulating Christ's humility, empathy, and sacrificial service. This involves prioritizing the team's interests, promoting cooperation, and demonstrating selflessness in decision-making. Secondly, HRM can facilitate employees' spiritual development by encouraging participation in mentorship programs, counseling services, or work-related prayer groups, thus supporting personal and professional growth within the context of faith and values (Moore, 2024). Thirdly, biblical principles are integral to ethical decision-making, ensuring that honesty, respect, and justice are upheld throughout recruitment, performance appraisal, and conflict resolution processes.

Furthermore, HRM can promote good health and support services, such as counseling and health improvement programs, and offer flexible working conditions, recognizing the inherent value of each individual regardless of productivity (Lewa et al., 2019). Finally, a Christian worldview in HRM acknowledges the importance of supporting diversity and inclusion, recognizing that everyone bears God's image. This includes enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to organizational objectives. By espousing Christ-like servant leadership, HRM can foster an organizational culture where employees are treated with love, forgiveness, and appreciation, creating a supportive and nurturing environment that encourages personal growth and community.

In conclusion, the primary differences between man-centered and Christ-centered servant leadership include their foundational principles and ultimate objectives. While both approaches emphasize serving others, the Christ-centered perspective incorporates biblical principles, leading to higher levels of authenticity, effectiveness, and satisfaction in the workplace. Adopting Christ-centered servant leadership in HRM can significantly enhance trust, cooperation, and overall well-being for both employees and organizations. This reiteration of the benefits of Christ-centered servant leadership can instill a sense of optimism and positivity in the audience, envisioning a better future for HRM and organizational leadership.


Blanchard, K. H., & Broadwell, R. (2018). Servant leadership in action: How you can achieve great relationships and results. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., a BK Business book.

Coley, K. S., MacCullough, M. E., & MacCullough, D. L. (2023). Transformational teaching: Instructional design for christian educators. B&H Academic.

Deno, F. (2017a). (dissertation). A quantitative examination of the relationship between servant leadership and age on organizational commitment in faith-based organizations.

Holy Bible, New International Version, (2011). Biblica, Inc.

Huizing, R. L. (Ed.). (2022).  Grace leadership: A biblical perspective of compassion in management (1st ed.). Springer International Publishing.

Lewa, P. M., Lewa, S. K., & Mutuku, S. M. (2018). Leading from the heart: Lessons from Christian leadership. Management for Professionals, 137–157. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-72221-4_7

McLeroy, A. N. W. (2023). Seeking biblical clarity through blended worship in Georgia baptist churches (dissertation). Seeking biblical clarity through blended worship in Georgia Baptist churches.

Moore, A. T. (2024). Biblical leadership development: Essential Components in servant leadership (dissertation). Biblical leadership development: essential components in servant leadership.

Pleasant, R. (2021). A case study: The servant called to lead as Head of School of a PK-12 private faith-based school in North Central florida (dissertation). A case study: the servant called to lead as head of school of a PK-12 private faith-based school in North Central Florida. Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va.

Riddlebarger, K. (2024). First Corinthians – The Lectio Continua Commentary Series (2nd ed.). Reformation Heritage Books.

Stites, E. K. (2021). (dissertation). Promotion of leaders based on skills not related to leadership. Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va.

Zheng, M. (2023). Developing a biblical principle of worship curriculum for the choir at first Chinese Baptist Church, San Antonio, TX (dissertation). Developing a Biblical principle of worship curriculum for the choir at First Chinese Baptist Church, San Antonio, TX.


Biblical Servant Leadership



An Exploration of Leadership for the Contemporary Context

Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business

Series Editors Kathleen Patterson

School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA, USA

Doris Gomez Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA, USA

Bruce E. Winston Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA, USA

Gary Oster Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA, USA

This book series is designed to integrate Christian faith-based perspectives into the field of leadership and business, widening its influence by taking a deeper look at its foundational roots. It is led by a team of experts from Regent University, recognized by the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities as the leader in servant leadership research and the first Christian University to integrate innovation, design thinking, and entrepreneurship courses in its Masters and Doctoral programs. Stemming from Regent’s hallmark values of innovation and Christian faith-based perspectives, the series aims to put forth top-notch scholarship from current faculty, students, and alumni of Regent’s School of Business & Leadership, allowing for both scholarly and practical aspects to be addressed while providing robust content and relevant material to readers. Each volume in the series will contribute to filling the void of a scholarly Christian-faith perspective on key aspects of organizational leadership and business such as Business and Innovation, Biblical Perspectives in Business and Leadership, and Servant Leadership. The series takes a unique approach to such broad-based and well-trodden disciplines as leadership, business, innovation, and entrepreneurship, positioning itself as a much-needed resource for students, academics, and leaders rooted in Christian-faith traditions.

More information about this series at http://www.palgrave.com/gp/series/15425

Steven Crowther

Biblical Servant Leadership

An Exploration of Leadership for the Contemporary Context

Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business ISBN 978-3-319-89568-0 ISBN 978-3-319-89569-7 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7

Library of Congress Control Number: 2018944428

All scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Version unless otherwise noted: Scriptures are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD (NAS): Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scriptures marked NIV are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV): Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission of Zondervan

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Cover illustration: ISerg / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Printed on acid-free paper

This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer International Publishing AG part of Springer Nature. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

Steven Crowther Grace College of Divinity Fayetteville, NC, USA


1 The Foundation of Servant Leadership Theory 1 Servant Leadership According to Greenleaf 1 Servant Leadership in Twenty-First-Century Literature 3 Servant Leadership According to Patterson and Winston 5 Servant Leadership Research 8 The Next Steps in Leadership 9 Conclusion 10 References 10

2 Servant Leadership in Context 13 In the Context of Leadership Theory 13 In the Context of Followers 14 In the Context of the Business World 17 In the Context of the Church World 19 In the Global Context 21 Conclusion 22 References 23

3 The Strengths of Servant Leadership 25 Values-Driven Leadership 26 Effective and Ethical Leadership 28 Servant Leadership and Organizational Culture 29


vi Contents

Servant Leadership and Leadership Development 30 The Goals of Servant Leadership 32 Servant Leadership and the Negative 34 Conclusion 35 References 36

4 Servant Leadership in the Old Testament 39 Examples of Leaders in the Old Testament 41

Genesis: Joseph 41 Exodus 3 and 18: Moses 44 Esther 4–5: Esther 51

Instructions for Leaders in the Old Testament 52 God as the Model Leader in the Old Testament 53 Pictures of Leaders in the Old Testament 53

Shepherd: Kings, Priests, Elders 53 Suffering Servant: Isaiah 52–53 54 Levites 55

The Prophets as Servants: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah 56 The Texts of Servant Leadership in the Old Testament 57

2 Sam. 17:27–29; 19:31–40; 1 Kings 2:7—Barzillai 57 1 Kings 3: Solomon 58 Nehemiah 58 1 Samuel: David and Saul 60

The Failure of Leadership in the Old Testament 63 Judges: Samson, Gideon 63 Prophets: Elisha’s Servant 65 Shepherds Who Failed Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34 66 The Failure of Moses 70

Servant Leadership or Shepherd Leadership 71 Leadership Lessons from the Old Testament 71 Conclusion 72 References 72

5 Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus 75 Instructions About Serving 76

Mark 10 76 Matthew 28 82

vii Contents

John 13, John 21 84 Luke 7 87

Jesus as the Example of Servant Leadership 89 1 Peter 2 89 Phil 2 90

Conclusion 93 References 94

6 Leadership in the New Testament 97 Servant Leadership in the Book of Acts 98

Barnabas 98 Aeneas 99 Priscilla and Aquila 100 Peter as the Servant Leader 100 Instructions to Leaders 103

Servant Leadership in the Epistles 105 Romans and Corinthians 105 The Prison Epistles 113 The Pastoral Epistles 117 The General Epistles 123 Apocalyptic Servant Leadership 126

Other Leadership Issues and Models in the New Testament 127 Leadership Lessons from the New Testament 128 Conclusion 131 References 131

7 Biblical Servant Leadership 135 Biblical Concepts for Servant Leadership 135 Biblical Love in Leadership 141 The Difference and the Cohesion in the Servant Leadership Models 145 Moving from Concept to Application 146 Application in the Business World 148 Application in the Church World 149 Conclusion 150 References 151

viii Contents

8 A Call for Biblical Leadership 153 Existing Research on Biblical Leadership 153 Moving on in Biblical Leadership 154 Application of Biblical Leadership 158 Biblical Leadership: Pioneers or Settlers 159 Conclusion 163 References 165

Index 167


Fig. 5.1 Chiasm from Mark 10:45 79 Fig. 6.1 Biblical model of leadership from 1 Timothy 3:1–7 122 Fig. 7.1 Biblical servant leadership 148 Fig. 8.1 Biblical leadership 157

List of Figures


Table 4.1 Repetitive and progressive texture of scenes of Exodus 3:1–15 45 Table 4.2 Contrasts of shepherding from bad leadership 69 Table 5.1 Mark 10:42–45 patterns 79 Table 5.2 The progression of the life of Christ 92 Table 6.1 Contrasts for shepherd leaders 102 Table 6.2 The inner texture of I Timothy 3:1–7 119

List of Tables


Though leadership has been an issue of discussion for many centuries, as well as among recent researchers, there has been little agreement on the description of leadership. In the twentieth century, leadership has been a topic of study by researchers with no consensus on the definition of lead- ership, but only that it concerns influence in the accomplishment of group objectives (House, Hanges, Javidian, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004). This vast array of differing conceptions of leadership has created a bewil- dering body of literature with differences from one writer to another in the field of leadership (Yukl, 2012). However, in the midst of this discus- sion has entered the concept of spirituality as found in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and its impact on leadership. Weber (1968) based his concepts for religious leadership upon the lives of certain religious leaders, like Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, and Jesus. Nevertheless, McClymond (2001) found it striking that there was not much discussion of religious leadership among scholars in the twentieth century. Yet, with the turn of the twenty-first century, there has been a turn to spirituality in leadership studies (Bekker, 2008). This turn to spirituality has included the development of theories of leadership with a spiritual component like spiritual leadership (Fry, 2003), servant leadership (Patterson, 2003), and authentic leadership (Avolio, Gardner, Walumbwa, & May, 2004; Klenke, 2007). This turn to spirituality in leadership studies has also included distinctively Christian leadership models like kenotic leadership


xiv Introduction

(Bekker, 2006). This is not to say that spirituality and servant leadership are the same. In addition, this does not mean that this turn to spirituality is necessarily Christian with a focus on biblical foundations for leader- ship. Servant leadership exists without the issues of spirituality. However, this turn to spirituality with a focus on biblical concepts could inform not only servant leadership but other forms of leadership as well. Many have discussed leadership in the context of Christianity and Scripture including Augustine, Martin Luther, and the writers of the Christian Scriptures (Guinness, 2000). Some of the writers of Christian Scriptures who addressed leadership were Mark, Paul, and Peter. Research has been done by some authors on the impact of the writers of Christian Scripture and the ministry of Jesus (Bekker, 2006; Self, 2009; Zarate, 2009) on contemporary leadership. Clinton (2012) developed leadership emer- gence theory based upon his broad study of leaders in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as well.

Nevertheless, this source for leadership theory needs further investiga- tion for at least two reasons. First, this is a new area of research for con- temporary leadership that has only gained ascendancy since the turn of the century. Second, this is a broad source for research in the area of leadership and much more needs to be done to develop profundity as well as breadth from this rich resource of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

In response to this need, some scholarly journals have begun in the twenty-first century, such as The Journal for Biblical Perspectives in Leadership and The Journal of Religious Leadership, to promote research in the areas of Christian Scriptures, Christian spirituality, and leadership. In this area of research, there is much to be examined and gained for con- temporary leadership development and understanding. In contemporary leadership, one result of neglecting the spiritual dimension in leadership is a void of values, and in response to many public failures, a movement of spirituality is awakening in businesses across the country (Gibbons, 2008). In the context of this nexus of the Scriptures and leadership, pos- sibly there is a way to discover new models for effective leadership for the future. Many contemporary theories of leadership have focused primarily on behavior like leadership practices (Kouzes & Posner, 2017), transfor- mational leadership, and the skills or style approach (Northouse, 2015), while others focused on the culture of the organization (Cameron & Quinn, 2011) including an emphasis on changing leadership behavior.

xv Introduction

Yet, leadership is not just behaviors or styles; it involves internal issues as well. Internal issues such as character. Character is central to good leadership and character is the inner form that makes a person who he/ she is and it provides the leader’s deepest source of bearings (Guinness, 2000). The issue of personhood or ontology comes to the fore in this discussion and involves spirituality particularly as found in the Christian Scriptures. This is important in that leadership as seen in the Scriptures is ontological in that leadership proceeds from the being of the person and not just the behavior of the person. Though those like Machiavelli (1515/2016) said that internal issues such as character and integrity are not important components of leadership, writers of the Scriptures dis- agree. In 1 Peter, Peter exhorted the leaders to follow the example of Jesus—Jesus set the example of servant leadership, but this concept per- meates the pages of both Old and New Testaments. Therefore, the writ- ings of the Scripture need thorough examination for understanding teaching concerning servant leadership and leadership in general and its proper appropriation for contemporary contexts. In this search, it is pos- sible that even better models for leadership could be discovered from the wisdom of antiquity.

Leadership studies do not generally embrace theology in the process of research (Ayers, 2006). However, in the past, theology or research from the Scriptures has been a valuable source of research. Medieval theolo- gians believed that theology was the queen of the sciences (i.e. of the domains of knowledge) and philosophy was her handmaid; but in our day, theology has been largely banished from the university (DeWeese & Moreland, 2005). Theology has fallen from this place of prominence to be replaced by pragmatism and empiricism. Instead of searching for truth in theological foundations, truth is now sought in answering questions of function. Does it work in accomplishing the objectives? If something accomplishes certain determined objectives, then it is assumed that it is true and this truth is used for developing a theory. Nevertheless, this is quite Aristotelian that truth lies in the physical world. It would be more productive to find truth then apply it to the physical world, a move from internals to externals. While this sounds Platonic, it is not Platonic thinking that drives this as much as theological thinking. Thinking theo- logically is a view from the perspective of divine intention and prerogative

xvi Introduction

rather than a view from below which is anthropological—an effort to find truth as it happens—and is troubled by misshapen self-issues. Many times science asks for an outside objective viewpoint, but is that possible when we study ourselves and we are the researcher and the researched? Theology from Scripture lifts us out of this research circle so we can catch a glimpse from above concerning the human issue of leadership. Nevertheless, the- ology is not unacquainted with the necessity of circularity since no quest for truth can escape from the necessity of this hermeneutic circle, linking the encounter with reality to an interpretive point of view, so science and theology are joined in a relationship of mutual illumination and correc- tion (Polkinghorne, 2007). Scripture must be brought back to the research arena, not to displace science, but as a partner in a search for truth that is more than empirical. Science and theology are both concerned with the search for truth, and they share common ways of approaching this search for understanding as well as sharing a common conviction that there is truth to be sought (Polkinghorne, 2007). Therefore, it is in this conver- gence of science or research and theology from Scripture that truth is sought for leadership in the contemporary setting.

The ramifications for leadership from the principles of Scripture are sig- nificant. This is a way of leadership and leadership development that is not only countercultural but also sensitive to eternal issues of theology that are important. This leadership in Scripture is specifically designed for leading the church in antiquity and in contemporary settings as well. The implica- tions are that if the biblical foundation for leadership could be found, it could bring new ground for effectiveness. This then would have implica- tions for leadership in multiple contexts in the twenty-first century includ- ing business, education, and government settings as well as in the church.


Avolio, B. J., Gardner, W. L., Walumbwa, W. O., & May, D. (2004). Unlocking the Mask: A Look at the Process by Which Authentic Leaders Impact Follower Attitudes and Behaviors. Leadership Quarterly, 15(6), 801–823.

Ayers, M. (2006). Towards a Theology of Leadership. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 1, 3–27.

xvii Introduction

Bekker, C.  J. (2006). The Philippians Hymn (2:5–11) as an Early Mimetic Christological Model of Christian Leadership in Roman Philippi. Paper pre- sented at the Servant Leadership Research Roundtable.

Bekker, C.  J. (2008). The Turn to Spirituality and Downshifting. In F. Ghandolphi & H. Cherrier (Eds.), Downshifting: A Theoretical and Practical Approach to Living a Simple Life. Hyderabad, India: ICFAI Press.

Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (2011). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Clinton, J. R. (2012). The Making of a Leader. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress. DeWeese, G. J., & Moreland, J. P. (2005). Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult.

Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. Fry, L.  W. (2003). Toward a Theory of Spiritual Leadership. The Leadership

Quarterly, 14(6), 693–727. Gibbons, S. (2008). Spiritual Formation: The Basis for All Leading. Inner

Resources for Leaders, 1, 1–9. Guinness, O. (2000). When No One Sees: The Importance of Character in an Age

of Image. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress. House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidian, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004).

Culture, Leadership, and Organizations: The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Klenke, K. (2007). Authentic Leadership: A Self, Leader, and Spiritual Identity Perspective. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 3(1), 68–97.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons).

Machiavelli, N. (2016). The Prince (W.  K. Marriott, Trans.). Retrieved from www.gutenberg.org/files/1232/1232-h/1232-h.htm (Original Work Published 1515).

McClymond, M. J. (2001). Prophet or Loss? Reassessing Max Weber’s Theory of Religious Leadership. In D. N. Freedman & M. J. McClymond (Eds.), The Rivers of Paradise: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammed as Religious Leaders. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and Practice (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage).

Patterson, K. A. (2003). Servant Leadership: A Theoretical Model. Paper presented at the Servant Leadership Roundtable.

Polkinghorne, J. (2007). Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

xviii Introduction

Self, C. (2009). Love and Organizational Leadership: An Intertexture Analysis of 1 Corinthians 13 (Doctoral dissertation). Dissertation Abstracts International: SectionA, 70(10). (UMI No. 337775).

Weber, M. (1968). Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. New York, NY: Bedminster Press.

Yukl, G.  A. (2012). Leadership in Organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Zarate, M. (2009). The Leadership Approach of Jesus in Matthew 4 and 5 (Doctoral dissertation). Dissertation Abstracts International: SectionA, 70(10). (UMI No. 3377777).

1© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7_1

1 The Foundation of Servant

Leadership Theory

The ideas and concepts for servant leadership have been around for cen- turies in different forms. Even when Aristotle and later Aquinas discussed leadership, they pondered the concepts of virtues as an important com- ponent of human life and leadership. Other philosophers such as Plato discussed leadership but with some different ideas that became main- stream ideas for ruling and power. This focus on power carried the day in leadership thinking with concepts of leadership like in Machiavelli’s The Prince that endorsed a power center to leadership. This power focus on leadership developed over the centuries, while in other contexts alterna- tive concepts for leadership became part of the lived experiences of lead- ers. Diverse concepts for leaders were lived and developed, but the power focus of leadership rose to ascendancy over the years.

Servant Leadership According to Greenleaf

In the 1970s, in the midst of a hotbed of leadership theory develop- ment, Robert Greenleaf proposed an idea about the servant being the leader. According to Greenleaf (2002), his book on servant leadership was written through a process of 20 years of talks and articles with the


hope and design that leaders would learn to serve their followers with skill, understanding, and spirit. This idea grew into a concept of leader- ship in the writings of Greenleaf that was developed and popularized in the writings of Greenleaf and later with several other authors like Larry Spears. Greenleaf (2002) believed that there were students who were looking for a better way to lead and there were others as well like trustees and clergy in the churches who wanted more effective models for leader- ship. He introduced this way of leading as leading as a servant. He sum- marizes his concept of this type of leader as one who is servant first and this begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve but then there is a conscious choice from there that one wants to lead (Greenleaf, 2002). The movement then is not from leading to serving but from serv- ing to leading.

This way of thinking calls for a new kind of leadership model that puts serving others as the top priority including employees, customers, and the community at large and a number of institutions have adopted this servant-leader approach (Spears, 1998). This model has been adopted, discussed, and lived by many in several different fields. As this model has moved from theory to practice, there are others who have developed and adapted this model in many different contexts. There are business leaders who have practiced this model for over 25 years and continue to use it, and this leadership thinking has also influenced many noted writers, thinkers, and leaders (Spears, 1998). The influence and popularity of this way of thinking about leadership grew through the later twentieth century.

In this process, ten characteristics for servant leadership were developed from the writings of this model. The ten characteristics of servant leader- ship were identified as listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community (Spears, 1998). These ten concepts have been researched and developed for use as components of servant leader- ship with good progress of this model as an effective form of leadership. Servant leadership is viewed as a leadership model that is helpful to orga- nizations by engaging and developing employees and beneficial to follow- ers by engaging people as whole persons with heart, mind, and spirit and

S. Crowther


it is not limited to Western culture (Van Dierendonck & Patterson, 2010). Greenleaf (2002) even discusses many different contexts in his later chap- ters as he addresses the issues of cross-cultural leadership.

Then his final chapter turns to the inward journey through the use of poetry and Scripture. Though this is the foundation of servant leadership from an organizational perspective, it has some beginnings of looking to Scripture and particularly the life and ministry of Jesus as a model for leadership. These early concepts have been the fountainhead of much discussion and debate about this philosophy or model or principle of leadership. This thinking began in the 1970s with Robert Greenleaf how- ever; others in the twenty-first century began to think and do research on this way of leading to develop a robust model for effective leadership.

Servant Leadership in Twenty-First-Century Literature

In the twenty-first century, there was an explosion of literature in many areas of leadership theory and thinking. Some of these areas included virtues and even spirituality as an important component of leadership and leadership development. It was in the early years of this century that authentic leadership was developed as a result of the large scandals in the business world of this time period. As it was developed, there was a spiri- tual component of this model developed by Klenke (2007). There were other theories as well like adaptive leadership theory (Northouse, 2015).

In this context, there emerged several new ideas and models concern- ing servant leadership. Just before the turn of the century, Spears (1998) had already been developing some of the concepts of servant leadership in cooperation with other leadership scholars and practitioners such as Stephen Covey, Peter Senge, James Kouzes, Margaret Wheatley, and oth- ers. They were exploring different aspects of servant leadership based on the Greenleaf model of leadership.

As the twenty-first century dawned, there were ideas and new priorities in leadership thinking and development. Northouse (2015) described servant leadership as a theory that did not have much empirical evidence

The Foundation of Servant Leadership Theory


with most of the writing on this model being prescriptive rather than focusing on the practice of this way of leadership however; in the twenty- first century, more evidence and research had substantiated and clarified this model. Servant leadership was used by different organizations and endorsed by leadership thinkers and writers, but it still needed further development for use as a theory of leadership. So, the twenty-first century brought an explosion of research in new areas of leadership and leader- ship development. In this explosion of research, several scholars devel- oped different and diverse attributes and measurements for servant leadership (Barbuto & Wheeler, 2006; Dennis & Bocarnea, 2005; Laub, 1999; Van Dierendonck & Nuijten, 2011; Wong & Davey, 2007). In these studies, the characteristics were both extensive and diverse with a lack of agreement on the characteristics that define servant leadership (Northouse, 2015).

In the midst of this time period, Patterson (2003) developed a model that is virtue based for leadership. This model was further clarified and explained by Winston (2003), who defined and expanded some of the terms used in this model of leadership. The literature concerning servant leadership continues to grow with more variations. However, since this Patterson model is virtue based, it has potential for more development and growth.

In addition, the issues of the twenty-first century have focused on developing ethical models of leadership or at least developing models with ethics in mind for the process of leadership development. This focus of leadership studies in general brings this model of servant leadership to an important place to be examined and developed for use in this present context. The question remains as to how leadership models can be devel- oped that can produce effective and ethical leaders. Ciulla (2014) pro- poses that leadership needs to be good in two senses, ethical and effective. It is this search for good leadership in these two senses that drives the passion for the development of this model for servant leadership. But is this enough? Is there more beyond this model that serves leaders in their pursuit of good and even great leadership that includes virtues as well as effectiveness? Then the question goes even farther in asking if these are the only two components of good leadership. To answer these questions it takes a deeper look at this Patterson model.

S. Crowther


Servant Leadership According to Patterson and Winston

Some of the foundational ideas for the further development of servant leadership came from Winston and Patterson. Winston gave some new terminology for this construct in using the word agapao for the leadership idea of love. Patterson developed a virtue-based model for servant leader- ship that built upon the ideas of Greenleaf but expanded it. In her model, the virtues of leadership are the central issue however; it is done in such a way that it facilitates the ability to research this theory of leadership for further development.

According to Patterson, servant leadership is based on love (2010). However, there are more virtues that come from this foundation of love producing a virtuous model of leadership. There are seven virtuous con- structs in this model of servant leadership. These seven constructs are agapao love, humility, altruism, vision, trust, empowerment, and service (Patterson, 2003). These constructs interact with each other ultimately expressing service to others. It begins the process with love or agapao. According to Winston (2002), this is the Greek term for moral love; it is to love in a social or moral sense. Fortunately, Greek has several Greek words for different ideas where we use only one word in English. Therefore, it is important to understand this word in this social context. It is where the leader considers the needs of the followers and where the leader considers each person as a total person with unique needs, desires, and wants even learning about the giftings and talents of each follower (Patterson, 2003). Love in this way is important in an organizational set- ting. Love in leadership is an atmosphere where respect, trust, and dig- nity are fostered and this is where followers can thrive and this love becomes a force that changes lives of both follower and leader (Van Dierendonck & Patterson, 2010). It is here in the foundation that there can be seen a difference between this model and the Greenleaf model. The Greenleaf model begins with the desire to serve, while the Patterson model begins with moral and social love as the foundation. Does this make enough of a difference? Both are based on the model of serving first. Many of the other discussions on servant leadership have this concept of serving first. However, the Patterson model develops through

The Foundation of Servant Leadership Theory


virtuous constructs rather than behaviors. This then makes it a model that can be developed using internal issues of the person rather than external behaviors. It is then ontological in nature in that it deals with the person of the leader first rather than the external behaviors first. This could be more of a challenge for development, but it makes it more open to research that deals with internal issues like dealt with in Scripture and the issues of character.

The model then moves from the issue of love to humility. This is an often missed but a key ingredient of good leadership. There is a growing call for humility in leadership in spite of the fixation on charismatic appeal for leaders (Morris, Brotheridge, & Urbanski, 2005). Collins (2001) even declares that deep personal humility is one of the only two important ingredients for great leadership. Others have discussed this connection between servant leadership and humility as well (Anderson, 2008; Greenleaf, 2002; Winston, 2002). However, it is important to understand this concept of humility. It is not a low opinion of self. Humility is a personal orientation based upon the willingness to see self accurately putting oneself in perspective with neither self-abasement nor overly positive self-regard (Morris et al., 2005). This concept of humility in connection with leadership is a growing discussion but it fits well within the framework of this model of servant leadership.

Then altruism is the next virtue in this model servant leadership. Altruism is that which benefits another person often involving risk or sacrifice for one’s own personal interests (Kaplan, 2000). This virtue would involve the servant leader overcoming significant self-issues like insecurities and overt self-interest. Vision is the next attribute in connec- tion to this model. Vision is rarely considered a virtue. It is an important component for many models of leadership including some of the more contemporary models like transformational leadership. However, this vision becomes a virtue when it is focused on the vision for the follower rather than for the organization. The servant leader’s focus is on the indi- vidual and this vision is looking forward and seeing the individual as a viable and worthy person and helping that individual become that person (Patterson, 2003). The vision is for the individual and how they can become a better person in a holistic sense, not just as a function at a job. This sets this model apart in that the other models of leadership focus on

S. Crowther


vision for the strategy of the organization whereas here the vision is to develop the followers in the organization who impact the organization but the goal is the follower first. Servant leaders are focused on their fol- lowers seeing them for who they can become and serving them as such whereby the followers are the primary concern (Dennis, Kinzler-Norheim, & Bocarnea, 2010). Servant leadership  in this way focuses on the fol- lower through addressing internal issues in the leader.

Trust is the next virtue in servant leadership here in this model and way of doing leadership. Trust is seen as part of the transforming influ- ence of servant leadership by Sendjaya (2010) and he calls unreserved trust one of the ingredients for the transformation of followers in many dimensions. Trust is one of the ingredients produced in an atmosphere of love in leadership (Van Dierendonck & Patterson, 2010). Trust can be seen in two directions. The first direction is the follower trusting the leader but the second direction is the leader trusting the follower. So, trust needs to flow in both directions. However, trust coming from the leader can help develop trust in the follower. This cannot produce trust from the follower without the leader being trustworthy. This is where servant leadership enters the equation. Trust is built upon the other attri- butes of this model of leadership. When the leader expresses moral love and altruism with good in the heart of the leader for the followers in the context of true humility, the leader builds a solid foundation for trust— trust from the followers. In addition, humble leaders recognize their own shortcoming, and with this revelation, they are able to more readily trust other imperfect individuals. Excellence is not perfection; it is much more than perfection. Perfection is in meeting a certain expectation fully. Nevertheless, excellence is to exceed expectations with a learning process as a result of failures and successes. Excellence, to work correctly, needs to be filled with grace and proper motive. Perfection is a hard task master but excellence is an easy yoke that is filled with expectation instead of fear. So, what is trust? Trust has to do with being predictable and reliable and integrity makes a leader worthy of trust (Northouse, 2015). Trust is the confident relationship built between people who can be relied upon even in difficult situations. People you can trust whether followers or leaders are those who will not throw you under the bus when times are difficult. Collins (2001) says that great leaders are the ones who give

The Foundation of Servant Leadership Theory


credit to followers when all is well and progress is made, but then when there is trouble or hindrance, the leader looks at his/her own contribu- tions as the problem. He calls this humility. However, this is also trust, trust in others and building a foundation of trust from others.

The final virtue and the ultimate virtue in servant leadership is that of service or to serve. The idea of servant is deep in the Judeo-Christian heri- tage yet society appears to be a low-caring society with some notable servants but they seem to be losing ground to the nonserving people (Spears, 1998). This confusion adds to the dilemma in defining and then living as a servant in contemporary society. Where are the contemporary role models for this important ingredient? This is why Guinness (2003) laments the lack of heroes in our day when people are famous for being famous rather than for some exceptional quality or deed like putting oth- ers first. Service is a virtue in giving of oneself with generosity toward others in a variety of ways including giving time, compassion, and even of physical belongings (Patterson, 2003). To serve is to give of self when it is not an obligation; it is not a mandate to be fulfilled but a passion for others to be lived and done with compassion. However, even these words like “compassion” must be used carefully since there are so many who would define these concepts of giving, or serving or even compassion in various ways with practical implications as each definition takes root and heads in different directions. Therefore, the need is seen here for more research in these areas to seek out the nuances and the veracity of this theory. In addition, as these attributes are examined, they will need defi- nitions that can bear the weight of this theory of leadership.

Servant Leadership Research

As of today, there have been several other authors who have entered this field of research for servant leadership doing research in different cultures and contexts. Research has been done in African nations, in military con- texts, and based upon the life and teachings of Jesus. As research has been done, some have begun to develop theories that are sensitive to these contexts, like Wilkes (1998) who developed a concept for leadership based upon the life and teachings of Jesus or Bell (2014) who developed

S. Crowther


leadership principles from both Old and New Testaments based upon the servant models found in Scripture. Many scholars have worked on devel- oping a model of servant leadership recently. Among these scholars are Patterson (2003) and Winston (2003), but there are others as well like Russell (2001). These scholars have used differing theories and developed different models. In this process, some have begun to look at Hebrew and Christian Scriptures for a foundation for this theory as well as insight for nuances to improve this model of leadership.

The Next Steps in Leadership

In this endeavor, as some researchers have begun to look at the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures for guidance, there is a call for a more developed theory of leadership. This call is to analyze the best theoretical models in conjunction with divine insights from the text of Scripture. This is a call to think theologically from the perspective of foundations for leadership. Thinking theologically is a view from the perspective of divine intention and prerogative rather than a view from below which is anthropological (which is finding truth as it happens but it is troubled by distorted self- issues). Science asks for an outside objective viewpoint but is that possible when we study ourselves wherein we are the researcher and the researched? Theology lifts us out of this research circle so we can catch a glimpse from above concerning the human issue of leadership. This study expands this research in looking to the Scriptures in cooperation with the science of organizational leadership for divine perspective on servant leadership and its implications for leadership that can be applied in the multiple con- texts of the twenty-first century, to the church, government, military, nonprofits, education, and the world of business. Science and theology are both concerned with search for truth. They share common ways of approaching this search for understanding and a common conviction that there is truth to be sought (Polkinghorne, 2007). The question is whether the Scriptures endorse, critique, or expand the concept of ser- vant leadership. Further, the deeper question is whether the Scriptures provide a model of leadership other than servant leadership or that builds beyond this model of leadership.

The Foundation of Servant Leadership Theory



There are many models that have built upon the concept of servant lead- ership  as described by Greenleaf (2002). In this research, there is one model that is virtue based developed by Patterson (2003) that will be analyzed in this contemporary context and compared to the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. The contemporary organizational theory and the examination of Scripture will be brought together in looking for the nuancing, confirming, critiquing, or challenging of this theory. The pur- pose is to build a biblical construct for leadership using the foundation of servant leadership but moving beyond these concepts to embrace other words and concepts or principles for leadership.


Anderson, J. (2008). The Writings of Robert K. Greenleaf: An Interpretive Analysis and the Future of Servant Leadership. Paper presented at the Servant Leadership Research Roundtable.

Barbuto, J. E., Jr., & Wheeler, D. W. (2006). Scale Development and Construct Clarification of Servant Leadership. Group & Organization Management, 31(3), 300–326.

Bell, S. (Ed.). (2014). Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology if Leadership. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Ciulla, J.  B. (2014). Ethics: The Heart of Leadership. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap—And Others Don’t. New York, NY: Harper Business.

Dennis, R. S., & Bocarnea, M. (2005). Development of the Servant Leadership Assessment Instrument. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 25(8), 600–615.

Dennis, R. S., Kinzler-Norheim, L., & Bocarnea, M. (2010). Servant Leadership Theory: Development of the Servant Leadership Assessment Instrument. In D.  Van Dierendonck & K.  A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 169–179). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

S. Crowther


Greenleaf, R. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Guinness, O. (2003). The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. Nashville, TN: W Publishing.

Kaplan, S. (2000). New Ways to Promote Proenvironmental Behavior: Human Nature and Environmentally Responsible Behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 491–508.

Klenke, K. (2007). Authentic Leadership: A Self, Leader, and Spiritual Identity Perspective. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 3(1), 68–97.

Laub, J.  (1999). Assessing the Servant Organization: Development of the Servant Organizational Leadership (SOLA) Instrument. Dissertation Abstracts International, 60(2), 308 (UMI No. 9921922).

Morris, A. J., Brotheridge, C. M., & Urbanski, J. C. (2005). Bringing Humility to Leadership: Antecedents and Consequences of Leader Humility. Human Relations, 58(10), 1323–1350.

Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Patterson, K. A. (2003). Servant Leadership: A Theoretical Model. Paper presented at the Servant Leadership Roundtable.

Patterson, K. A. (2010). Servant Leadership and Love. In D. Van Dierendonck & K.  A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 67–76). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Polkinghorne, J. (2007). Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Russell, R. F. (2001). The Role of Values in Servant Leadership. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 22, 76–84.

Sendjaya, S. (2010). Demystifying Servant Leadership. In D. Van Dierendonck & K.  A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 39–51). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Spears, L. C. (Ed.). (1998). Insights into Leadership: Service, Stewardship, and Servant Leadership. New York, NY: Wiley & Sons.

Van Dierendonck, D., & Nuijten, I. (2011). The Servant Leadership Survey: Development and Validation of a Multidimensional Measure. Journal of Business & Psychology, 26(3), 249–267.

Van Dierendonck, D., & Patterson, K. A. (Eds.). (2010). Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wilkes, C.  G. (1998). Jesus on Leadership: Discovering the Secrets of Servant Leadership from the Life of Christ. London: Lifeway Press.

The Foundation of Servant Leadership Theory


Winston, B. (2002). Be a Leader for God’s Sake. Virginia Beach, VA: Regent University School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship.

Winston, B. E. (2003). Extending Patterson’s Servant Leadership Model: Coming Full Circle. Paper presented at Regent University’s Servant Leadership Research Roundtable, Virginia Beach, VA.  Retrieved from http://www. regent.edu/acad/global/publications/sl_proceedings/home.shtml

Wong, P. T. P., & Davey, D. (2007). Best Practices in Servant Leadership. Regent University Servant Leadership Research Roundtable Proceedings, 2007.

S. Crowther

13© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7_2

2 Servant Leadership in Context

Servant leadership has been developed and applied in the midst of a very hot economic climate and in the context of an abundance of new leadership research in general. As a result, there are many new ideas to which to com- pare it for developing the fine nuances of the theory. However, the negative side is that it gets confused with other theories with some similarities.

In the Context of Leadership Theory

There has been an explosion of research and development in the area of leadership theory from the end of the twentieth century which has intensi- fied with the coming of the twenty-first century. Servant leadership is one of several new and developing theories of leadership beginning with trans- formational leadership theory but then moving to more current theories like authentic and adaptive theories. Each of these theories has its own distinction, and yet there are a few connections with servant leadership.

Especially in the context of transformational leadership, there is some confusion as to the differences between these growing theories. However, in studying the connection between transformational and servant leader- ship, there can be some further nuances developed in the understanding


and applying of servant leadership. Transformational leadership is a theory that has been developed and refined through research in many large univer- sities. Servant leadership has been researched and applied in different con- text even in diverse cultural settings. The distinction between the two can be seen in the particular focus of each theory. Possibly, their similarities are due to their attempt to develop people-oriented leadership styles, but their differences are found in the focus of the leader (Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2003). He goes on to declare that they both show concern for followers but transformational leaders engage the followers for the organization and ser- vant leaders focus on service to the followers.

This difference can be seen most clearly in the area of vision. Both theories discuss the need for vision. Transformational leaders develop an inspiring vision that captivates and motivates all in the organization, while servant leaders have a vision for the follower and fulfillment for the individual. The focus is different; the process is different though there are some similarities. However, servant leadership focuses on virtues like humility and altruism whereas transformational leadership focuses on inspiration and transformation for the organization and the followers but for the purpose of the mission. In servant leadership, the organization and mission is a focus as a secondary issue as it proceeds from serving others. There is a clear difference, but the question is whether servant leadership can work when the focus is not initially on the organization.

In the Context of Followers

Servant leadership has a clear focus on followers and one of the issues of servant leadership is in producing more servant leaders. However, the question is whether this kind of leadership will produce servant followers or if servant followers are part of the equation in developing a servant culture in an organization. Greenleaf (2002) discusses followership as a responsible role in the organization in that the follower must take the risk to empower the leader and to trust his/her insight, which will then be a strength-giving element in the organization. Is being a servant in the con- text of followers an issue for servant leadership and even leadership devel- opment? The premise of servant leadership in its foundation is about the

S. Crowther


desire to become a servant. The servant leader is a servant first, it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first then this brings one to aspire to lead (Greenleaf, 2002). In the process of becoming a servant leader, it begins with serving before leading. Then is a servant leader first a servant follower, and does a servant leader produce or encourage others to become not only servant leaders but also servant followers?

Traditionally, the world has been viewed from a leader-centric vantage point but what if followership was put at center stage challenging the concept of leaders as the proactive cause and followers as the reactive effect (Kelley, 2008). Followership can become the issue when viewed from the perspective of the follower. Followers make up the majority of an organization and can have an impact on the way the leader leads as well as the way the organization moves into the future. There are different kinds or styles of followers from the passive to the yes people to the alien- ated or negative ones, then there are the pragmatics who just go with the winds of what is in vogue, and finally there are the star followers who think for themselves but are active and positive (Kelley, 2008). These dif- ferent types of followers can be found in many different kinds of organi- zations. However, the question is whether these followers are like this innately or have they been formed by certain leaders or leadership styles, where is the cause and effect here. Or the bigger question is whether there is cause and effect in this relationship? The bigger question is if people are responsible for how they follow and can the followership style be changed?

This is a concept that can be found in Scripture as well. In reality, this was a major issue in the Protestant Reformation  in the teaching of Martin Luther. One of the major pillars of the Reformation was called the priesthood of all believers. The clergy-centric model of the middle ages in the church developed a deep dependency for what was called the laity (translated followers) upon the clergy (translated leaders). This dependency meant that the followers had to depend upon the leaders for every aspect of salvation. Inevitably, this gave great amounts of con- trol to the leaders over the everyday lives of the followers. Martin Luther came along and said that every person was a priest. In other words, everyone could connect to God individually and even help others in walking with the Lord. This revolutionized the church and even society.

Servant Leadership in Context


Nevertheless, this concept did not go very deep into the culture of the new church and it was not long before the church returned to its leader- centric habits.

What does the Scripture have to say on this issue? This is directly addressed in Ephesians 4:11–16. In this pericope, it is the Lord who gives gifts to individuals to lead as apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, or teachers. However, they were to use these gifts of leadership in a very specific way. It was to equip and train others or the followers to do the work of serving others and building the community until all, leaders and followers, can become unified, mature, and growing up by building each other up in love. The job of the leader is to focus on and develop the fol- lower to the point that the follower is a powerhouse of service, growth, and maturity then together they bring growth to others in love. Too many churches hinder themselves when they think that the leaders are the point of the church. The leaders are not the point; they are the servants. The church is the bride of Christ not the leaders. The leaders are the brides- maids to prepare the bride. Church leaders many times miss this point of leadership in the church in that it is really about the followers and the followers are the one who make it work. Many times church are not working well in the present context and many think it is the culture that is the hindrance when in reality it is the result of not hearing the Scripture on this issue of leadership and followership. Could this be true in the business world as well? Principles in Scripture are universal and apply whether they are believed or not believed. In this case, it is a concept that is largely ignored but it could be a catalyst for new concepts for organiza- tions and churches that could lead to new eras of growth. What if every church and organization had new passionate advocates in the hundreds and thousands? This would change everything including leadership.

Winston (2003) proposed a model of followership related to servant leadership wherein the virtues model of servant leadership in service to followers created a replica of this virtue model for followers beginning with love and producing the same virtues with the end of service to the leader. This model is intriguing in both its theory and the practical impli- cations. The implication here is that servant leadership produces servant followers. Is it possible as well that servant followers could produce ser- vant leaders? Is there cause and effect here but can it flow both ways in

S. Crowther


causation? This is an important question but at the very least it implies a servant followership that is different than a general followership in an organization. Servant leadership can produce a servant culture as seen in the application of servant leadership in places like Southwest Airlines. This culture and intentional training produces more servant leaders. Nevertheless, it would be a worthwhile endeavor to produce servant fol- lowers and a servant followership culture. To produce this culture, it would take more than classes on servant leadership and followership. Winston (2003) proposes that maturity of the individual is a moderating variable that can increase the intensity of this response of the servant fol- lowers to the servant leaders. This is a biblical issue in that maturity is part of the goal of the Christian life as seen in the text from Ephesians 4. The purpose of leaders and followers is to come to maturity in Christ, in essence to grow up, and this maturity in Christ brings maturity in other areas as well, such as in godly character. These concepts of maturity are linked together.

Servant followership is an important issue in servant leadership in sev- eral ways. One is that servant leaders can produce servant followers pro- ducing a cycle of love and serving with maturity as part of the growth process. Two is that even servant leaders need to come back to the foun- dation that is about the followers and equipping them and three is that servant followers could possibly even help to produce servant leaders. Biblically, followers are the issue not the by-product of ministry. As ser- vant leaders focus on followers not just in producing servant leaders but also in producing servant followers, this process of personal and organi- zational growth can be greatly enhanced.

In the Context of the Business World

Servant leadership has been applied and researched in the business world in both for profit and nonprofit sectors as well. Greenleaf began to do his research in AT&T in the clearly for profit business world. However, it is not just here but also in government and military sectors that this model has been applied with good results. Greenleaf (2002) described servant leadership  as beginning with the natural desire to serve and then he

Servant Leadership in Context


applied and discussed it in the context of the business world as well as the education and even the church world. The classic example and the oft- repeated one is of Southwest Airlines where the concept of servant leader- ship  begins with the CEO but then it is part of the culture of the organization as well. Southwest Airlines has long been known for setting and achieving incredible record of performance as an organization though many have doubted their ability to keep this model of leadership as they grow, but they have done so while increasing to 35,000 employees (McGee-Cooper & Trammel, 2010). This is but one example. Laub (2010) says that many organizations have taken up the banner of servant leadership, which is the understanding and practice of leadership placing the good of the follower over the self-interest of the leader. These organi- zations are varied and diverse yet they promote, train, and model servant leadership that fits into the broad definition of servant leadership.

There are businesses that are not serving well but much of the problem is in the attitudes, concepts, and expectations regarding business held by society, however; work exists for the person to provide meaningful work as it provides services or products and thereby the business becomes a serving institution (Greenleaf, 2002). Businesses then can be led by ser- vant leaders who provide vision for the organization, but they do so by helping the followers fulfill their own personal call and purpose in the mission of the organization. It has to do with organizational fit and indi- vidual calling. Servant leaders help individuals find their personal call in life which is related to their talents, gifts, even their personalities, and inclinations. With this fit between person and mission or business, the followers are served in deeply personal ways that impact their motivation, presence, and even their joy in life. Organizations, even profit organiza- tions can be led by servant leaders who provide service to followers, peers, partners in the business world, customers, and society at large.

Servant leaders develop organizations that are in the business of grow- ing people who become stronger, healthier, more self-reliant, competent, and autonomous while also making and selling at a profit things that peo- ple want to buy to be able to pay for the business (Greenleaf, 2002). This is a change in focus. It is a change in attitude, and it is catching on in more and more organizations. TDI is one of the earliest businesses to adopt servant leadership and this heating and plumbing business has been using

S. Crowther


servant leadership with required servant leadership training since the 1970s (Spears, 1998). Melrose (1995) as the CEO of the Toro Company implemented servant leadership in 1981 producing a book on his journey to leading by serving. There are several instruments that have been estab- lished for measuring servant leadership such as the OLA, and these have been used to measure servant leadership and its impact in several compa- nies in the automotive industry and in addition this instrument has been used in health care, law enforcement, and manufacturing contexts (Laub, 2010). There were servant leader-led organizations in these studies which then compared issues like job satisfaction and absenteeism finding these servant organizations made a significant positive difference in these areas (Laub, 2010). There are a growing number of businesses that have adopted servant leadership and have developed programs for developing servant leaders as a model for leadership for the business. Businesses are finding good results with servant leadership with some having used this model for over 25 years like TDI. This trend has continued into the twenty-first cen- tury with several instruments developed for measuring, reporting, and developing servant leadership in organizations. Many of these organiza- tions that are using these instruments for improvement are profit busi- nesses. Servant leadership has found its place in the business world in spite of society’s perception of the world of business. Possibly, as more search out this way of leading there will be more to come.

In the Context of the Church World

Of course, one area where servant leadership seems to fit well is in the context of the church and Christian ministry. Nevertheless, it is apparent that church leaders are often autocratic rather than servant leaders. This is an area of concern especially in the context of growing research for the effectiveness of servant leadership. So, this area needs further develop- ment in its connection with Jesus and His teachings since He is the ulti- mate leader in the church. Jesus was the first to endorse serving as leading in Mark 10. However, this also raises the question of whether Jesus taught servant leadership  or transformational leadership or another model of leadership. This question will be more fully addressed in Chap. 5 on Jesus’ teaching and model of leadership.

Servant Leadership in Context


Much of the time the church follows culture in forms, styles, and in leadership. The Bible gives us instruction in many areas where the church can lead the culture or at least use some of the grace provided by God to provide a different model. This is particularly true in the area of leader- ship. Leadership is an arena that God has provided insight since the beginning of humanity. Christian leadership through the centuries has followed many different models of leadership and presently follows either contemporary models or a model that says teaching theology is enough for leadership. It is important that the church begin to embrace some of these insights and models for leadership. There is a need for a new pattern of leadership. Is this model found in biblical servant leadership or is it a related form of leadership and how do we bring this into the church in the midst of a troubled culture filled with distorted self-issues?

Churches are needed to serve the large number of people who need help for healing and wholeness however; the churches do not seem to be serving well, but if the leaders can become servant leaders, the churches can be exemplars for other organizations (Greenleaf, 2002). He is not the only one that is concerned about the state of the churches and their position in society at large. A particular type of leadership is needed then for churches. An important aspect of churches is their relevance to the culture, but can this relevance to the culture be held in proper tension with the biblical foundation needed for ministry and leadership? The modern growing churches employ insights from the behavioral sciences for evangelism and these churches have been deeply impacted by moder- nity (Guinness, 1993). These aspects of church leadership make them culturally relevant to Western society. However, the endless pursuit of relevance leads only to transience and burnout. The church needs an effective way of leading that is relevant yet transcultural and transgenera- tional. We need these kind of leaders and concepts of leadership in churches wherein the churches serve well the people of the communities. The sociology of religion literature suggests that there are important insights to be gained by applying institutional theories to religious orga- nizations and religious scholars concerned with organizations have iden- tified the location of authority and the system of governance as some of the most common dimensions of religious organizations (Packard, 2008). There are concepts and principles that the church can learn from

S. Crowther


organizational leadership theory. However, this is not the only source for the church and the church leaders must use these concepts with wisdom and insights that are uniquely part of the foundation of the church and its mission. Some of the principles important for church growth accord- ing to some in the church growth/mega church movement are pastoral leadership effectiveness (Wagner, 1985), leadership and transitions (Fletcher, 2006), and developing several key characteristics including empowering leadership (Schwarz, 1996). What is this empowering lead- ership? Is it servant leadership? At the very least, servant leadership in concept was endorsed by Jesus as a path to greatness in leading.

It is not only the church that can benefit from servant leadership it is also the nonprofit ministries of all different types and sizes. By their very nature, these organizations exist for a purpose other than the profit motive. Part of the drive behind these organizations is their mission. The mission in this nonprofit world can vary, and even the ministries affiliated with the Christian movement can vary in scope and mission. Yet, they all are motivated by a purpose that is a higher purpose and not a self-focused purpose; otherwise they would not be nonprofit organizations. This then is a fertile ground for servant leadership. The institution that becomes distinguished in the contemporary world will have learned to act in a serving way with great economy of resources, both human and material, while being guided by purpose on the path to a better society (Greenleaf, 2002). This better society can begin with effective leaders becoming ser- vant leaders committed to the growth of people beginning with those in the organization. This can then be applied to helps agencies, mission agencies, church development agencies, and other organizations that have been founded to help others around them in society.

In the Global Context

The question arises as to whether this way of leading can be applied in global contexts. In high authoritarian cultures, the very word “servant” is a problem. There are some areas of the world where it is an insult to be considered a servant in any form. In addition, there are those who have been forced into servanthood or slavery and in this context servant

Servant Leadership in Context


leadership could be and is resisted. So, this asks the question of whether this model can be applied cross-culturally in some of these areas where there are deep cultural resistances to the concept of servant. This model has been researched and tested in some of these contexts with good results but it takes large amounts of explanation for the theory and its application. We must look for a way ahead for this issue since the prin- ciples appear to be universal.

The study of servant leadership has moved from theory to model devel- opment to empirical research but most of this has been done in North America and Europe however; newer studies have found servant leader- ship acceptance and endorsement of servant leadership concepts in Africa and Latin America with some acceptance among pastors in Asia (Irving, 2010). This is just a beginning but more research is being done to be able to bring this model into diverse cultural contexts. Serrano (2006) found that in Panama this theory was not only accepted it was also practiced throughout the culture. Though this is understood to be a Western model, it is growing around the world today with studies in Latin America and China showing servant leadership from these cultural perspectives (Ertel, 2017). Global leadership is an important issue today in our newly connected global society and servant leadership is beginning to show up in many non-Western locations. Concepts of servant leadership  have been identified in at least one major worldview on every continent and most worldviews give a high place to the role of servant (Ertel, 2017). There is more work to be done in the global aspect of servant leadership. Nevertheless, there is growing evidence that at the very least there is an understanding and acceptance of the concepts of servant leadership  in various cultural contexts with some evidence of the practice of this model of leadership.


Servant leadership is currently being adopted, researched, developed, and explored in many contexts across cultural and organizational lines. Some have been using and developing servant leadership for more than 25 years, while others have just begun to explore the concept. In addition, servant

S. Crowther


followership is a concept that needs further development in both research and practice. However, the enactment of servant leadership must take on culturally contingent characteristics to be effective and to follow the heart of the model in being follower focused and servant oriented (Irving, 2010). So, in some areas of the world it needs to be adapted to the language of the people in ways that are congruent but not exactly the same in terminology. This is called dynamic equivalence. It is looking for the same overall con- cept while adjusting the language so it is heard by the listener. It is similar in many ways to language translation. In translating from one language to another, the goal is understanding more than word for word exactness. Since languages are formed differently and the concepts are carried in dif- ferent ways, adjustments must be made for effective understanding. The best theory of translation is one that remains faithful to both the original and receptor languages but when something has to “give” it is in favor of the receptor language without losing the original meaning, this is func- tional or dynamic equivalence (Fee & Stuart, 2014). An example would be calling Jesus the bread of Life when speaking to Eskimos. Early on they did not use bread and this would be difficult for them to understand. Another example is that among one Brazilian tribe they had no word for leader so an equivalent was found with some explanation. One possible word to be used in other cultures would be that of “steward” and though it is an old word it is a biblical word for the “lead servant.” This adaptation can take place through careful analysis and research of the cultures and servant lead- ership. Servant leadership has found its place in the worlds of business, church, and across cultures as well as in other contexts. Nevertheless, it needs continued development, research, and application to different con- texts. This is a call for more work and even more nuanced work on this model of leadership in the areas of research, development, and expansion.


Ertel, S.  R. (2017). Why Servant Leadership? Servant Leadership Theory and Practice, 4(2), 13–26.

Fee, G., & Stuart, D. (2014). How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Servant Leadership in Context


Fletcher, M. (2006). Overcoming Barriers to Growth. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers.

Greenleaf, R. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Guinness, O. (1993). Dining with the Devil: The Mega Church Movement Flirts with Modernity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Irving, J. (2010). Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Servant Leadership. In D. Van Dierendonck & K. A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 118–129). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kelley, R. (2008). Rethinking Followership. In R.  Riggio, I.  Chaflen, & J. Lipman-Blumen (Eds.), The Art of Followership: How Great Followers Create Great Leaders and Organizations (pp. 5–16). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laub, J. (2010). The Servant Organization. In D. Van Dierendonck & K. A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 105–117). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

McGee-Cooper, A., & Trammel, D. (2010). Servant Leadership Learning Communities: Incubators for Great Places to Work. In D. Van Dierendonck & K.  A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 130–144). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Melrose, K. (1995). Making the Grass Greener on Your Side. San Francisco, CA: Berret-Koehler Publishers.

Packard, J.  (2008). Organizational Structure, Religious Belief, and Resistance: The Emerging Church. Unpublished dissertation, Vanderbily University, Nashville, TN.

Schwarz, C. (1996). Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches (L. McAdam, L. Wollin, & M. Wollin, Trans.). Emmelsbull, Germany: C & P Publishing.

Serrano, M. (2006). Servant Leadership: A Viable Model for the Panamanian Context? ProQuest Digital Dissertations Database. (Publication No. 3228983).

Spears, L. C. (Ed.). (1998). Insights into Leadership: Service, Stewardship, and Servant Leadership. New York, NY: Wiley & Sons.

Stone, G., Russell, R.  F., & Patterson, K.  A. (2003). Transformational Versus Servant Leadership: A Difference in Leader Focus. Paper presented at the Servant Leadership Roundtable.

Wagner, P. (1985). Leading Your Church to Growth: The Secret of Pastor/People Partnership in Dynamic Church Growth. Ventura, CA: Regal Books.

Winston, B. E. (2003). Extending Patterson’s Servant Leadership Model: Coming Full Circle. Paper presented at Regent University’s Servant Leadership Research Roundtable, Virginia Beach, VA.  Retrieved from http://www. regent.edu/acad/global/publications/sl_proceedings/home.shtml

S. Crowther

25© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7_3

3 The Strengths of Servant Leadership

Servant leadership has several components as has been seen earlier in this study. Several of these components combine to create some unique strengths to this model of leadership. The interest in servant leadership is continuing to rise as the idea of the ideal of leadership has changed from the heroic leader to one who gives priority to stewardship, ethics, and col- laboration and this new call is for leadership that is virtuous (Van Dierendonck & Patterson, 2010). This type of virtuous leadership that is attentive to the issues of ethics and others is the foundation of servant leadership and fits well with Patterson’s (2003) model. There are two important elements in servant leadership theory in that it is person ori- ented and it deals with the issue of using power well in using power for service (Van Dierendonck & Patterson, 2010). These two areas combine to create an important dynamic in leadership with a focus on followers that develops a context for good motivation to grow. First, the motivation in the leader is concern for others first and this includes followers, clients, customers, partners, and even the community at large. It does not stop there though. This develops good ground in the hearts of these followers for good motivation to grow as well in relationship to others and in rela- tionship to the organization. In leadership and in life motive counts. It is not just how something is done, but it is also why that counts. This motive


issue goes very deep into the soul of the person. Organizational leaders often look for ways to motivate others, such as employees or customers. However, the direct approach of telling or selling works less and less in the twenty-first century. Changing motive in followers may work best by changing motive in the leader first. These strengths in this model could be seen as internal or indirect in their implications. Nevertheless, they are strengths that work well in twenty-first-century organizations and meet the growing desire of people to be included and for leaders to be stewards of mission and power rather than overlords of mission and power.

Servant leadership has tens of thousands adherents over the past quarter of a century providing a framework for helping improve the way others are treated who work in organizations and this way of leading offers hope and guidance for a new era with more caring institutions (Greenleaf & Spears, 1998). This model offers new ways of leading that deal with issues of motive and rethinks the issues of power while developing collaborative and ethical leadership. These strengths give servant leadership an attrac- tiveness for leaders, followers, researchers, and society.

Values-Driven Leadership

At its core, servant leadership is driven by virtues or deeply held values in the leader. In this way, servant leadership addresses the issues of ontology in the leader. The leader becomes a servant; the leader does not just attach serving behaviors. It is an issue of the soul or the person and even of their worldview or of their sense of reality. It is deeply embedded in the person, in the character of the person. Character is internally who one is in the soul, the ontos of the person and it is the internal gyroscope in making decisions (Guinness, 2000). Values are part of who one is as a person, in the soul, or the internal parts of the person. Then these values influence every aspect of a person’s life including judgments, responses, and com- mitments serving as guides for actions and decisions (Kouzes & Posner, 2017). These values are at the core of servant leadership including issues that have already been discussed like humility, love, altruism, and trust. Then the vision of this model is directed at others as part of virtue in that it is not self-focused. Service and empowerment are then the products of

S. Crowther


these virtues. These last two are virtuous constructs in that they are other focused and proceed out of the other four virtues.

Then, since this way of leading is very person oriented for the leader and focused on the other person, it is very personal. Yet, it can be applied in large group settings as well as small ones. Aristotle discussed four vir- tues to become a flourishing person but servant leadership develops more concepts of virtues that are closer to the concepts of Jesus than to Aristotle or even Aquinas. For Aristotle, there were four cardinal values: courage, justice, prudence, and temperance and by developing and living these virtues one would flourish as a human being (Wright, 2012). Then Aquinas tried to develop these virtues further based upon his understand- ing of virtue. Nevertheless, the focus here is still on the person as she/he develops these virtues that person flourishes and can be happy. We could compare the virtues of Aristotle with those of servant leadership but that really is not the point. The difference is in the focus or the motive. The focus of the virtues in serving is motives focused on others, whereas the motives of Aristotle are focused on self. This is not to say that virtue development does not need self-work, it does. However, the goal here in serving and leading is focused on others. We see Jesus making this same distinction in Mark 10 when he told the disciples that the path to great- ness was paved by learning to become a servant to others. He did talk about self-issues here. He did not rebuke them for wanting to be great; in fact, indirectly, He endorsed it. The path had two parts. First, the leader must become a servant. This is the place of virtue development in the soul which brings ontological change. Then the leader must become servant to all giving her/his life for others. The focus is on becoming for others.

The strength of virtue leadership is that it is foundational in the soul of the person. It is not just what a leader does, but it is more of a process of becoming more and then as a by-product of these particular virtues giv- ing of self in service to others. In reality, leadership is ontological in that it proceeds from who the leader is as a person more than what the leader says. People who follow you become who you are; they do not become who you tell them to become. Think about children and parents. Do children become who their parents tell them to become or follow all of the teachings of the parents? No, children become who their parents are as lived out for them every day of their little lives. Think about it. Back

The Strengths of Servant Leadership


when we had telephones in houses tied with cords to the wall, people could only reach us through those archaic machines. So, after teaching the children not to lie someone would call for the parent and the parent would tell the child, who answered the phone, to tell the caller that the parent was not there. The children get it and then the parent wonders why the teenager lies under pressure later. Many times this is why there is conflict in the home. Teenagers become their parents at the same time that the parents are reevaluating who they are as persons and are not sure that they like what they see in the mirror. Followers become who the leaders are as persons not just what they are told to do or become. This can be a strength for servant leadership since this model is a virtue theory that develops not the doing of the leader but the character or the ontos of the leader, which in turn impacts the followers who are served but then they become these people of virtue since this is the role model.

Effective and Ethical Leadership

This model looks at the connections between leader and follower as important and aims to facilitate growth in the follower first. In doing this, the leader develops qualities and actions that are other oriented that can be classified as ethical. Ethics then is part of this theory of leadership. Other theories consider ethics as an adjunct to effectiveness but not so with servant leadership. Most leadership development plans that use dif- ferent leadership theories teach the leaders how to succeed but they do not teach them how to handle this success. This is an internal issue of the person of the leader. Servant leadership uniquely prepares the leader to handle the coming success. The current need for leadership is for leaders who are ethical. This can be seen all around us in our culture. Yet, this seems to be a rather difficult task since when it seems these leaders are found, they cannot stand up to the scrutiny of this concept of ethical leadership. Leadership needs to be good in two way to be good leader- ship: it must be effective and ethical (Ciulla, 2014). Most theories do not address leadership in this way; they only address the issue of effectiveness. This sets up many successful leaders for disaster. There is a dark underside to successful leadership. That underside is the impact that success has on

S. Crowther


the human soul. Leaders have been trained to be successful, most of the time. However, they have not been trained in how to handle the success when it comes. If the training in leadership includes development of vir- tues that are internal, that are issues of character, then there is at least a beginning in dealing with the dilemma of success.

Concerning ethics in the New Testament it can be summed up in one word, the word is “love,” the chief of the virtues, and it is no accident that the perfect law of God can be summed up by Jesus in the word of love (Witherington, 2016). Ethics can then be seen to be rooted in virtues especially in the virtue of love. There are many theories of ethics just as there are many theories of leadership. These theories can be discussed under different headings each with a different focus. Egoism is like it sounds in doing the best for self, then there is deontology that is adher- ence to the rules and utilitarianism that asks about good for the most people (Fedler, 2006). These theories cover some areas of ethics but none of them cover ethics in total. There are other theories as well like conse- quentialism that looks at the effects of a decision and then finally there is virtue theory that considers the person involved in the action or decision (Fedler, 2006). Here is where we find servant leadership as a virtue theory for leadership but at the same time it impacts ethics. Servant leaders lead with love, they are motivated by love, and this love is a force that is so powerful that it changes lives (Patterson, 2010). Here is where the two senses of good leadership can meet and develop as the servant leader leads with the chief of virtues, love.

Servant Leadership and Organizational Culture

Servant leadership in the senior levels of an organization has been seen to impact how others interact with each other in the organization. This impacts the culture of the organization. Servant leadership in the higher levels of the organization can even impact the employees’ interactions with those outside of the organization. The ideas and the doings of servant l eadership transfer into the workings of the organization. It is possible for servant leaders to develop a servant organizational culture. The servant organization is an organization with the characteristics of servant

The Strengths of Servant Leadership


l eadership being displayed in the culture of the organization and practiced by leaders and followers (Laub, 1999). It is an organization whose culture has been permeated by the concepts of servant leadership.

In organizational theory, there are four different quadrants of culture each with different attributes and definitions of success. An organization has all four in operation but the question is which one is the high quad- rant or the lead that sets the culture or the worldview of the organization. These four quadrants are Hierarchy culture with a focus on order and rules, Adhocracy culture with a focus on innovation, Clan culture with a focus on partnership and family, and then Market culture with a focus on external results (Cameron & Quinn, 2011). Each quadrant brings a cer- tain way of operating and a certain strength to the organization with trade-offs from other weaker quadrants. The best culture is usually con- tingent on the industry of the particular organization and the kind of economic or social climate around the organization. Organizational cul- ture is the framework of the organization and it is important at all times. Change to organizational culture must be done with wisdom and good counsel. However, the servant organization presents an underlying mind- set that can provide a healthy foundation in any of these four cultures (Laub, 2010). Greenleaf (2002) declared that institutions themselves could become servants whether they are big businesses, universities, or churches. These servant institutions are those that develop a servant lead- ership culture within their organizational culture. Possibly, this servant leadership culture could help bring positive change to the organizational cultures of these institutions as well.

Servant Leadership and Leadership Development

One of the areas that has not been researched as much as leadership theory is that of how to do leadership development. In this model, leadership development is inherent in the model. This theory is onto- logical in that it impacts the person of the leader. People in an organiza- tion become who the leaders really are for good or ill. All of the teaching on transformational leadership will rarely produce a transformational

S. Crowther


leader unless there is one who becomes a transformational leader for others to follow. In servant leadership, this is inherent in the model of leading.

Leadership development has been researched as to the most effective ways to develop effective leaders. There are various ways that leader can be developed. Day (2000) distinguishes between leader development as the development of human capital and leadership development as the devel- opment of social capital. Leader development focuses on the issues devel- oping the person of the leader whereas leadership development focuses on developing the interactions between people in the organization. Leadership development is enhanced by developing networks and effective interac- tions between people, both leaders and peers as well as customers. In social capital development, emphasis is on building networked relationships among individuals that enhance cooperation and resource exchange in creating organizational value (Day, 2000). For proper development of leadership in an organization both the individual needs to be trained and equipped in the areas of personal development and then in the area of interacting with others in ways that are successful. Both of these areas are fully present in servant leadership as a model and in practice. The practice of service leadership sets the model for both of these areas to be developed in the followers. According to Day (2000), there are three development processes that involve training for both human and social capital; these are modeling, development assignments, and mentoring during challenging assignments. All three of these can be useful in developing servant leaders but the one that is a focus of servant leadership is that of modeling. Since this is a virtue theory and is based upon the change within the person, there must be a motive or a drawing to this change. This can begin as one is led by a servant leader. This then is a way for training leaders for both the development of human capital and the development of social capital in using those virtues for the good of others.

Kouzes and Posner (2017) articulate five key components for effective leaders and one of these issues is for the leader to become the role model for others to follow. This is good and backed up by much of their research. However, this function as a role model needs to move beyond behaviors to internal issues of the person to have long-term deep impact. Servant leadership is that theory which provides this type of values model, deeply

The Strengths of Servant Leadership


personal model that can have long-term impact. So, servant leaders can produce other servant leaders and it has been shown by Laub (1999) that whole organizations can take on the characteristics of servant leadership. For this to happen, there must be many servant leaders at all levels of the organization. Therefore, it is imperative that servant leaders learn to develop other servant leaders. However, to a point it is inherent in the model. Servants who lead want to produce other servants who lead since this would serve the larger organization and society better. Servant leader- ship provides means for personal growth and transformation and it encourages everyone to seek opportunities to both serve and lead produc- ing the potential for raising the quality of life throughout society (Spears, 2010). Servant leaders are not deterred by the issues of who has the power or authority or even recognition; they want to serve. Servant leaders can serve as intentional role models for others and expand their ability to serve and in the process develop servant leaders who produce servant organizations. This is not just theory or logical processes; this is reporting that which is already happening at places like Southwest Airlines and TDI. Leaders at Southwest Airlines established an “others first” philoso- phy in the management of the company then the employees became ser- vant leaders and the company thrived (Northouse, 2015). Leadership development by modeling produces more servant leaders which can cause the company to thrive.

The Goals of Servant Leadership

Servant leadership  focuses on different goals that are person centered rather than organization centered however; these goals still make for a strong model of leadership that impacts both the organization and the community. The goals proceed from the virtues of servant leadership in the leader operating based upon these virtues for the good and the devel- opment of the follower and others. Servant leaders put followers first empowering, nurturing, and empathizing with them while helping them develop their full personal capacities and serving for the greater good as well, including society and the organization (Northouse, 2015). The goals of servant leadership are other focused but it is based upon virtues that have been developed in the leader.

S. Crowther


The first goal is to become a servant. In the beginning of the discussion of servant leadership, Greenleaf (2002) says that this serving should come from a natural desire to serve. Some do have this natural desire but others need some transformation first possibly through the influence of another servant leader who serves as mentor and role model. Jesus said in Mark 10 that to be great one must become a servant of all not just do serving. This Patterson (2003) model of servant leadership picks up this thought by developing a virtue theory. Virtues are not done as much as developed in the person then they proceed from that person.

Then the second goal is to serve others that are led. The servant leader is servant first taking care that other people’s highest priority needs are being served, to help others grow as persons becoming healthier, wiser, freer and to help them become servants themselves (Greenleaf, 2002). This service proceeds from the virtues that begin with love and come through the other virtues of humility and altruism along with trust. Then the leader serves the followers through vision for them many times hav- ing more confidence and vision for them than they do themselves. Then empowering and serving them. Inside this goal is the goal to help the followers discover and follow their call in life. This call is unique to every person. Yet every person has a call in life that they have unique talents, abilities, and propensities to fulfill (Guinness, 2000). Life can be a drudg- ery just existing on survival and yet in some ways this has become the standard. Discovering one’s call is the key to a full life filled with purpose. Workers can trudge out 30 years doing something because they have to survive or they can live a life of expectation and adventure discovering and fulfilling call and both can happen in the same organization. The dif- ference is leadership. Someone must serve them to find who they are and what they were created to do and then give them ways to walk that path of purpose. The second goal is the follower living a fulfilled and flourish- ing life while becoming a servant as well.

The final goal is to serve society at large and the organization. The larger issue of the organization is not left out it is simply prioritized lower than the followers. It has already been seen that in the context of servant leadership and servant organizations that organizations prosper. If the organizations do not prosper then we cannot serve each other anymore and we need to go find another place to serve. Leaders and followers want

The Strengths of Servant Leadership


the organization to prosper but as a result of healthy leader and follower issues not in spite of difficult leader and follower issues. Some of the out- comes of servant leadership are improved organizational performance and societal impact with initial research showing servant leadership has an influence on organizational performance (Northouse, 2015). Concerning societal impact it is seen in organizations that serve the com- munity whether they are nonprofit or for profit. One example is churches that serve the needs of the poor in the community. Another is a college or university that allows its staff to use work hours to work in literacy or reading development for those that need help in the community.

These are the goals generally for servant leadership though some exam- ples used a particular model of servant leadership. However, the question remains as to whether servant leaders can meet all of these goals. The fur- ther question is whether these are enough goals or the right goals for good leadership. Then the question of the diversity of models in this theory of leadership comes to the surface in asking the question of whether these goals are clear enough and can be met by all of these models. The final question is—is there more? Is there more to this model in the nuances of the model, or is there more to this model in being connected to the differ- ent theories that produce different concepts. Finally is the question of the critique and expansion of this model—does it need more work?

Servant Leadership and the Negative

In the midst of all of these questions, there can be seen some weaknesses in this theory of leadership. One weakness would include the focus of the leader in if the leader focuses on the followers then who will drive the organization. This is the question of organizational performance. We have already seen that the goals include organizational performance but secondary or as a by-product of the first goals that are follower focused. Can an organization thrive with a vision focused on followers and not on the overall mission of the organizations or on strategic futures for the planning and development of the organization? However, it is here as in other places that the Scripture can help us learn how to become a servant leader while driving the organization.

S. Crowther


Are there other weaknesses in this model? Northouse (2015) says that some criticisms of this model are that putting others first seems to con- tradict other important leadership concepts such as directing and con- cern for production and that researchers are unable to come up with a common framework for this theory of leadership. However, this is not the first theory of leadership that has struggled with diverse concepts for the model. Trait theory is one that still has several frameworks. However, this first concern may have some merit that needs further research and development with proper nuances for the findings. This “putting others first” is a core issue of servant leadership. This question needs to be answered and this is where Scripture can help as well.


Servant leadership has many important facets and nuances to it as the model exists today. It is founded upon virtues that help answer the ques- tion of ethics and leadership or power. It is good leadership in both senses of good, effective, and ethical. Servant leadership interacts with organiza- tional culture in positive ways producing important outcomes for the follower and the organization. Servant leadership also has some unique qualities for developing other leaders in the organization even producing a servant organization. The goals of servant leadership involve virtue development in the leader, a focus on followers to fully develop them as individuals, and a broader goal for the organization and society. However, everything in servant leadership revolves around this focus on followers, even the other two goals. This follower focus is the gravitational center of servant leadership. Then in the final examination though there are weak- nesses in this model of leadership that need to be examined, researched, and addressed. The two issues that come to the surface here are the issue of vision and the core issue of the follower focus. Can an organization thrive when the vision is focused on the follower rather than the organi- zation? The second question is similar in questioning whether this “put- ting others first” can work when there are other leadership qualities that need to be in a theory of leadership like directing people and projects. These questions and others will be discussed as the text of Scripture is

The Strengths of Servant Leadership


examined. The further question now is does Scripture endorse servant leadership and if so, does it expand, contradict, or critique this theory of leadership.


Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (2011). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ciulla, J.  B. (2014). Ethics: The Heart of Leadership. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Day, D.  V. (2000). Leadership Development: A Review in Context. The Leadership Quarterly, 11(4), 581–613.

Fedler, K. D. (2006). Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.

Greenleaf, R. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Greenleaf, R., & Spears, L. (1998). The Power of Servant Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Guinness, O. (2000). When No One Sees: The Importance of Character in an Age of Image. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Laub, J.  (1999). Assessing the Servant Organization: Development of the Servant Organizational Leadership (SOLA) Instrument. Dissertation Abstracts International, 60(2), 308 (UMI No. 9921922).

Laub, J. (2010). The Servant Organization. In D. Van Dierendonck & K. A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 105–117). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Patterson, K. A. (2003). Servant Leadership: A Theoretical Model. Paper presented at the Servant Leadership Roundtable.

Patterson, K. A. (2010). Servant Leadership and Love. In D. Van Dierendonck & K.  A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 67–76). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

S. Crowther


Spears, L. (2010). Servant Leadership and Robert K.  Greenleaf ’s Legacy. In D.  Van Dierendonck & K.  A. Patterson (Eds.), Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research (pp. 11–24). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Van Dierendonck, D., & Patterson, K. A. (Eds.). (2010). Servant Leadership: Developments in Theory and Research. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Witherington, B. (2016). New Testament Theology and Ethics (Vol. 1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Wright, N.  T. (2012). After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

The Strengths of Servant Leadership

39© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7_4

4 Servant Leadership in the Old


There is much that can be learned from the Old Testament Scriptures concerning servant leadership  and its application to real situations in diverse contexts. As the Scripture is examined in the search for the divine perspective on leadership, the goal is to answer the questions on ser- vant leadership but further it is to ask the bigger question about biblical leadership. Is there a biblical construct or model for leadership? Is this model servant leadership or a more nuanced and critiqued model of ser- vant leadership? What can be learned about leadership and organizations from a careful analysis of several texts of Scripture? The reality is though that all the relevant texts cannot be examined in this short study but sev- eral will be selected and examined using current methods of hermeneu- tics which fits under the category of qualitative analysis.

A word about method and the analytical process of Scripture or exege- sis is in order at the beginning of this study. The first task of Biblical interpretation is called exegesis, which is the careful systematic study of Scripture to discover the original, intended meaning, to hear the original intent of the words as the original recipients would hear it (Fee & Stuart, 2014). This process is looking for authorial intent remembering that there is both a human and divine author. Hermeneutics then is the


science of interpretation (Fee & Stuart, 2014). The question is how is this examination of Scripture done?

This process begins with careful and detailed observation. In this study, there will be a combination of related methods used for this exegetical analysis. One method is called the historical grammatical method. This method is concerned with context and direct meanings from the literal grammatical sense of the text. The issue of context includes many differ- ent kinds of contexts from literary to historical. Then there is the method of inductive Bible study that looks inductively at the text with asking questions of the text in the search for what is really there in the text. The final method and the default method used will be Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation. This approach invites detailed attention to the text itself by moving interactively into the world of the people who write the text and the present world and  it is a combination of approaches aimed at showing the textures in the text (Robbins, 1996). It is not looking for multiple meanings in the text, but it is looking for issues and discoveries that are hidden from us since we are so far removed from the original audience. The specific ways of doing this type of analysis is divided into several categories each with their own emphases and definitions. These categories are inner texture, intertexture, social and cultural texture, ideo- logical texture, and sacred texture (Robbins, 1996). These concepts will be discussed throughout this study as these methods are used in the pro- cess of interpretation. There is some overlap in these methods and this can help in this process of interpretation to see the nuances of the divine perspective from Scripture.

The final step in this analytical process is application. In the Western world, through the focus on pragmatism, the tendency is to rush to appli- cation. In reality, many read Scripture and apply it without bothering to stop along the path for a moment of interpretation. Interpretation is what does it say to the original audience, what is the authorial intent of this message. Then application is taking that clear message and appropri- ating it to the present context making allowance for cultural and contex- tual differences. Without this slow process of moving from observation to interpretation to application, Scripture can become just endorsement of our latest fads or an archaic self-help book. Scripture is more than this and it needs the time for careful analysis to be able to receive the message that is life changing from a divine perspective.

S. Crowther


As the Old Testament is examined, there is a further interpretive prob- lem. It is an Old Covenant that has been superseded by a new one. Should it be rejected as old or should it just be simply brought into the present ignoring the different covenants? Neither is a good answer. Others have tried these answers without good results. The Old Testament is revelatory. God’s mind and purposes are really revealed in and through it. The Old Testament is provisional finding its ultimate interpretation and norm in the revelation of Jesus Christ and its appropriation by the New Testament. Therefore, the Old Testament is appropriated by means of Jesus as its ultimate fulfillment and normative interpretation. In interpretation of the Old Testament, the text needs to be carefully reviewed finding the message of timeless truths and then looking for ways that these texts are fulfilled in Christ and the New Covenant as their interpretive metric.

Examples of Leaders in the Old Testament

Genesis: Joseph

The classic story of a servant leader is the story of Joseph. The Old Testament shows his development from childhood through adulthood with several important stops along the way. He was sold into slavery but still managed to become a servant leader on different levels and in differ- ent contexts from prison to the palace of Egypt. Joseph is only one of three characters of the Bible in whom no sin is revealed, along with Jesus and Daniel he is presented as a flawless hero though this not imply a life without sin in Joseph, it is meant to compare the best of Joseph with the worst of his brothers (Bauchman, 2013). The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37 and weaves itself through the rest of the book of Genesis through chapter 50. This larger-than-life hero begins as a misunderstood dreamer who has dreams that imply others will bow down to him, even his brothers and father. This is a classic story of jealousy as the brothers decide to kill him when there is opportunity and when they are a great distance from home since Jacob, the father, loved and protected Joseph. In the process of the plot to kill him, they decide instead to sell him to some traders as a slave in Genesis 37:28. They deceived their father Jacob convincing him that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


Joseph’s life begins as a slave in Egypt. First, he begins as a servant to the captain in Pharaoh’s army of Egypt (Genesis 37:36). He served the captain faithfully and was even promoted until the wife of the captain falsely accused him of improper advances against her and Joseph was thrown into prison as a result of this event (Genesis 39:11–20). Then in the prison he serves the prison keeper and even the other prisoners. He interprets two dreams for two important prisoners, who had been close to the king and these dreams come true but the cupbearer who was restored to the king forgot about Joseph (Genesis 40:6–8; 16–23). Joseph’s suffering was not over. Yet, two years later, Pharaoh had a dream and this cupbearer remembered Joseph. This was a dream that impacted all of Egypt and none could interpret it, but Joseph interprets it with great detail and even with instructions on how to deal with the coming calamity, and Pharaoh appoints Joseph as second in Egypt to deal with this impending disaster (Genesis 41:37–41). What a sudden change! This was a long time in coming but it did come and in a way it came over- night, everything changed in one day. This promotion to a strategic posi- tion is an example of expansion as Joseph passed an integrity check which is a test to shape character, and it is often delayed as in the case of Joseph who passed the initial test in the situation with the wife of the captain (Clinton, 2012). At times, even the best of leaders are slow to be recog- nized, this is not necessarily from a wrong direction or a misstep by the person but simply part of the process as is seen here in Joseph.

The famine comes to all of the nations around Egypt as well as to Egypt. This drives the surrounding nations and tribes to Egypt to negoti- ate trade with Egypt since they were the only nation with the real vision of the future and then prepared for it under the leadership of Joseph. In this mixture of nations and tribes, Joseph’s brothers return to him to buy food though they do not know that he is their brother (Genesis 42:7–8). He sells them food but tests them several times in the process as they return for more food from Genesis 42 to Genesis 44. When Joseph decides to reveal himself to his brothers, it shows some of the conflict inside of him. He had never given up on his father or even his brothers who betrayed him, here in this exalted position he served them and literally saved them from famine. Yet, he had been a faithful and good servant to

S. Crowther


Egypt and Pharaoh. Would there be conflict in this revelation of himself and who would he choose to serve. In Genesis 45:1, he had everyone except his brothers leave the room and he made himself known to his brothers. “He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the house- hold of Pharaoh heard of it” (Genesis 45:2). As a result, Pharaoh received Joseph’s family and they lived close to Joseph and were well provided for throughout the time of Joseph and the Pharaoh. Joseph led as a servant for the remainder of his life and he even saw the third generation of his sons as a legacy if his leadership and he made them promise to return his bones to the land of promise when they returned to Israel (Genesis 50:23–25).

In Joseph is found a servant leader first to his family but then to those around him wherever he found himself, including prison. Eventually, he became servant to Pharaoh and ultimately to his whole family again. There are two takeaways from the end of the story of Joseph: that of for- giveness and hope (Bauchman, 2013). Joseph rises to the occasion to forgive all of those who wronged him and does not become the victim of bitterness. There are two choices in suffering, especially when it is at the hands of other humans, bitterness which breeds revenge or perseverance which breeds character and hope. Paul says in Romans 5:3–4, “We exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character hope.” Finding the place of joy and perseverance in the midst of the pressures of life breeds good character and hope. These are two of the qualities that are seen in Joseph. He seemed to always have the ability to see the future with hope even as a teenager. He saw the future in dreams, but he also saw the future in people—not only in his fellow prisoners but also in his brothers though they failed many times; he saw more in them and helped to bring that out in them for the good of all. His focus on testing and helping his brothers into the future brought benefit not only to them but to Joseph and even to the nations of Egypt and Israel. There is not a better picture in the Old Testament of servant leadership. However, here is seen some of the inside workings of servant leadership in character development in areas like integrity and forgiveness in overcoming self-focus. In addition, hope is also seen in Joseph not just for himself and his nation but also for his failing troubled brothers.

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


Exodus 3 and 18: Moses

In some senses, Moses was a servant leader though he was in government service in leading the nation of Israel. He was a person of humility as well as a person who was able to effectively delegate to others. The concept of inner texture sets the context for this pericope in Exodus 3:1–15. The inner texture of a text resides in the features of the language, like word repetition and use of dialogue between two persons that sets the sections off from each other with a beginning, middle, and ending (Robbins, 1996). This concept divides this portion of Scripture into three sections giving insight into three qualities of leadership.

The first of the three scenes begins and ends focusing on Moses in verse 1 then in verse 4. The body of this section discusses the call of Moses in a narrational texture or format. The second section begins with a command from the Lord for Moses not to “come near here,” in verse 5 and con- cludes in verse 10 with a directive from the Lord to “come now and I will send you.” The body of this section is direct speech from God to Moses as the Lord continues to deepen the call to Moses as well as add this encounter of Moses with God. The third section begins with Moses ask- ing God a question in verse 11, “Who am I that I should go?” This sec- tion and the pericope ends with God answering Moses’ question in verse 15 declaring this is Who I am. The body here continues to deepen the call of Moses and further deepen the encounter between Moses and God while adding a third element of humility. This portion is an exchange of direct speech between God and Moses.

This pericope also has a repetitive and progressive texture in the midst of the narrational texture. The first section focuses on the repetition of Moses, the Lord, and the burning bush. The second section focuses on the repetition of Israel, God, and Egypt. While the third section focuses on Moses, name, and God. There is a progression here as the scene opens with narration concerning Moses and the Lord then transitions to directives given by the Lord to Moses concerning Israel and Egypt. But this does not conclude the pericope as the third scene moves to a much more personal encounter between Moses and God. The directives from God to Moses forced a personal encounter between God and Moses

S. Crowther


answering the question of who is God and who is Moses. This is a pro- gressive encounter that ends with a revelation of God to Moses and to the reader as well (Table 4.1).

This whole pericope begins with the Lord calling to Moses out of obscurity and ends with the Lord revealing something personal and eter- nal to Moses of Himself. The story moves from the call of God to Moses that becomes deeply personal through Moses’ encounter with God in this context revealing both the personal, powerful nature of God and the humility of Moses.

The story opens in the first section with Moses tending sheep close to the mountain of God. The Lord appears to him under the physical impres- sion of a burning bush. The miraculous part is not the burning bush in a desert but the fact that it does not burn up. This peaks the interest of Moses. But as Moses approached the bush, the Lord called to him. This is the first indication of the call of Moses from the Lord. This call deepens throughout the story but it begins here as the Lord begins to speak to Moses out of obscurity in a surprising way from a surprising place. Jethro, his father-in-law, was a priest of El or Elohim, the only name known for

Table 4.1 Repetitive and progressive texture of scenes of Exodus 3:1–15

Exodus 3:1–4 Initial call of Moses: scene one 1 Moses God Mountain 2 Bush (3×) Fire

(2×) The

Lord 3 Moses Bush 4 Moses

(2×) Bush God The

Lord Exodus 3:5–10 God encounters Moses: scene two 6 Moses God

(5×) Do not come

near 7 Egypt The

Lord 8 Egyptians 9 Egyptians Israel 10 Egypt Israel Come now and I

will send Exodus 3:11–15 Moses encounters God in humility: scene three 11 Moses Egypt Israel God Who am I 12 Egypt God Mountain 13 Moses Israel God

(2×) Name

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


God before this incident in Exodus 3. This only known name for God will change in this importnat encounter between God and Moses. God met with Moses in the process of life not in the performance of a religious duty.

This call was first of all from God, but it was also to a particular voca- tion or situation which involved leadership. Moses became a great leader but he was not only a spiritual leader he was also a governmental leader of Israel. One of the principles from this pericope is that leadership begins in the mind of God, as a gracious inclusion of humanity into the plans and purposes of God (Willimon, 2002). Leadership begins with a call from God that can come in the process of life to a vocation that is not necessarily religious in nature. There are spiritual truths in leadership and it begins with God and His call for an individual, but this is not restricted to religious vocations; Moses’ call was not restricted in such a manner. These characteristics operated in Moses as a result of a spiritual occur- rence. Social, cultural realities were important here but they were not the cause or source of this leadership that proceeded from Moses. On the most basic level of cause and motivation, it came from God in the form of calling from God to a mission or vision.

In the second section from verse 5 to verse 10, the concept of call con- tinues in God speaking directly to Moses concerning the nature of his vocation and the particular situation into which Moses is being sent. God begins to encounter Moses with the reality of His presence at which ini- tially Moses hides his face. In this encounter, God is the initiator and reveals His name to Moses while instructing him not to come near. In this encounter is a revelation of God and a revelation of God’s design for Moses. In this direct speech, God shows that He has seen the affliction of Israel and wants Moses to go and lead them out of Egypt. This is a very specific leadership vocation from God. It begins with a call to come to God but it ends with a movement in relationship from “Do not come” to “Come now” and with a sending to fulfill this vocation of leadership. Leadership qualities of Moses proceed from Moses’ connection to God, from his engagement with God. It is almost as if God goes out of His way to choose people who do not seem to have the qualities of good leaders, perhaps because God considers vocation a continuing aspect of creation (Willimon, 2002). It is this engagement with God that brings Moses to great leadership, not so much from what he knows as much as the change

S. Crowther


that occurs in his encounters with God. Calling from God leads to encoun- ter with God that defines not only vocation but also begins to form the person for true leadership. One is not called first to some special work but to God, the key is devotion to nothing above God Himself (Guinness, 2003). Calling begins with encounter with God that changes the person and sends them into specific vocation. These are two essential foundations for leadership that are missed in the zeal to find the ingredients of a good leader. Biblical leadership starts in unseen realms with God and then moves to the internal life and experience of the person that is unique to that person but begins with call from God and encounter with God.

The third section begins with an adversative wherein Moses interjects into the soliloquy of the Lord. Once the revelation of God’s design for Moses’ vocation becomes apparent, Moses begins to speak. He asks a question of his identity and his ability to perform such an incredible task. Was this humility or the beginning of Moses’ resistance to the declared purpose of God for him? It is likely here that the question is used in a humble, self-depreciating sense or is it the beginning of resistance; how- ever, God’s assurance in verse 12 that He will be with Moses, in a sense, accepts Moses’ reaction as legitimate (Janzen, 2000). A third essential ingredient for leadership as seen in the life of Moses is humility.

However, Moses’ encounter is not over with the Lord in this story of his call to leadership. After Moses’ declaration of his inability, God says He will be with Moses. But Moses inquired further into the name of the Lord, the one who was sending him. God had already told him He was the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but Moses presses for something more. Interestingly, God’s response is first to Moses himself and only then to the matter of what name he should bring to the Israelites, suggesting here that Moses is asking his own searching question, who are you really (Janzen, 2000)? This is a personal encounter between Moses and God with far-reaching implications. Would Moses embrace this call to go to Israel? First, he had to settle who he was but this could only be settled in light of who God was. This is one of the most discussed passages of the whole Old Testament, and it plays on the relationship, between grammar and sound, between the Hebrew word “to be” and the divine name Yahweh (Janzen, 2000). Few verses in the Old Testament cause such heated controversy and diverse

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


interpretations; how does the giving of the name validate Moses’ claim to divine revelation and how is this “I am who I am” to be translated (Childs, 1975). Childs goes on to propose several possible solutions but none that are final and definitive. A solution is to take seriously Israel’s tradition and emphasize the newness of the name to Moses (Childs, 1975). Janzen (2000) instead proposes translating the phrase into the future tense to show the dynamic character of God.

However, neither of these theological constructs takes into account the true nature of this encounter between Moses and God. This encounter first was personal before it was directed at Israel. This answer proceeded from Moses’ acknowledgement of his inability to fulfill this call to go to Egypt. In the process of Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation, sacred texture is seeking the divine in the text and finding insights into the nature of the relationship between human and divine (Robbins, 1996). In the sacred texture of this pericope, there are answers to some of these types of ques- tions about the relationship between the individual and God. There are times that Scripture is viewed from an outsider perspective; the events are watched from the perspective of by-standers to consider the ramifications later. This is one of those times, which occurs frequently in the life of Moses. In this encounter, God encountered Moses in a new way, no lon- ger as the God of Abraham but as the God of “I am.” In essence the same way that he encountered Abraham not as the God of the past but of the God of the present. Also He did not come as the God of someone else but as the God, the imminent God of that person. So God came to Moses as the God of I am, He came as the God of Moses not the God of the fathers but the God who is present in encounter with you, Moses. This is seen here from the outside so we miss the deeply personal nature of this encounter. Then this offer of the God of the fathers becoming the God of Israel was to be made to Israel. This is God’s name forever; it is still His name to each person who answers His call. We have missed the point by trying to discover His name, though that is valuable, and not realizing the purpose of this moment was encounter; yes it was a new name but a name that calls for encounter with God. This is who He is.

Up to this point God was known as El with some hyphenated descrip- tion like El-Elyon or as Elohim. The name Yahweh is introduced in this text as a name so far unknown to Moses and Israel, although it refers to

S. Crowther


the same God that the fathers had worshipped, and in revealing a new name He introduces a new role, that of Savior/Liberator/Redeemer (Janzen, 2000). This encounter deeply changes Moses and would have far-reaching implications for Israel. God now wanted to come up close to Israel both symbolically and relationally. The drama of this new Name and new role is played out in the wilderness over the next 40 years and as Israel settles into her own land. This was a pivotal moment for Moses, for Israel, and for redemptive history. But if that is all we see we have missed the point of God being “I am” to us. The sacred texture of this text opens the text to us beyond theology to personal experience. This encounter changed Moses’ life, perspective, and leadership. This was an internal change as his life was deeply influenced by the presence of God which engendered more encounters with God, a deeper sense of call, and a pro- found humility.

Moses is continuing in ministry in Exodus 18:17–24. Jethro, his father-in-law and a Midianite priest, gives him counsel, which Moses receives and implements. Jethro gives Moses three specific instructions that are relevant to the discussion of leadership. First, Moses you lead out of your encounter with God. You go to God to represent the people, pray for them, and bring the disputes to God; you help them get answers from God. Not only are you to mediate for them but also take the words God has given you and teach the people the concepts of the Lord and the ramifications of those concepts for their lives and their work. This pro- ceeds from Moses’ initial and ongoing encounters with the Lord.

Second, Moses is instructed to select individuals and make them lead- ers over certain groupings of people. Moses was to let them take his place of ministry and leadership to the people; only the major disputes would come to Moses. This must proceed from the humility in Moses to release this kind of power and authority to thousands of other people. This is an example of effective delegation and promotion of team ministry. However, these two constructs for leadership cannot simply be done under con- straint; there must be an internal drive to give momentum to this leader- ship paradigm. This drive comes from humility to have confidence in others as well as a realistic assessment of self.

Third, Moses is instructed to do these things so it would be easier for him and the other leaders would bear the burden of leadership with him.

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


Moses chose able men, men who stand in awe of God and who have integrity. These men were to be placed in leadership. Choosing other lead- ers is an important aspect of leadership particularly when there is a divine mission or vision to be fulfilled. Moses brought thousands of people into leadership at this time and helped them find and fulfill the call of God for their lives. Part of fulfilling calling from God is to help others find and fulfill their call together with you. Moses led out of his calling, which brought a sense of destiny to the Israelites and made him an effective leader in bringing others into calling and leadership. Moses led out of his encounter with God. This encounter deeply changed his life and he was able to connect with God for other people, to help them connect with God, and to teach others about knowing and following God and His principles. Moses led from a position of authority with humility and as a result he was able to appoint others to come with him into leadership.

In Moses are seen several issues of servant leadership. The contemporary theory of servant leadership as discussed by contemporary leadership theo- rists includes humility as one of the attributes in this form of leadership. Servant leadership includes seven virtuous constructs of which one is humility, while some consider humility a weakness, it is a virtue of not over-valuing oneself and respects the worth of others (Patterson, 2003). Humility is a virtue that becomes apparent in the life of Moses in the midst of this initial call experience and continues to be a characteristic of his leadership throughout his ministry. However, it is clear that humility was not a predominant characteristic in the earlier life of Moses when he killed the Egyptian taking it upon himself to help Israel. This was evidence of pride not humility. Something had changed by this time and this change was in Moses. Humility can be an acquired trait and it is extremely impor- tant for leadership as seen in the life of Moses. For godly leaders, positional authority and the disposition of humility should not be mutually exclu- sive; the two may coexist within the character of the leader and this goes to the heart of the uniqueness of Christian leadership (Ayers, 2006). Biblical leadership includes humility which can be a learned virtue yet is at the heart of the issue of leadership. Many activities flow from this humility that produces good leadership, activities such as consideration, modera- tion, considering others, and a desire to listen to others. These type of leaders realize that they do not have all of the answers and the greatest gift

S. Crowther


that a leader can give a follower is the gift of self and this comes from humility (Patterson, 2003). Humility is a realistic self- assessment that does not produce self-rejection but instead produces reliance upon others with a confidence in giving self to others.

In addition, Moses is very effective at empowering others here on a large scale with huge implications for Israel. Moses is seen as called into service of the Lord but he is to serve the people. He serves for the most part for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, there are some issues that fall outside the normal parameters of servant leadership. These would include the issues of calling and encounter with God. Are these part of servant leadership or are these only components that can fit into Christian lead- ership? First, finding purpose is an issue for all and not just for Christians. This could become a further area of study to nuance servant leadership. However, encounter with God in the way that we see here with Moses is a uniquely Christian and Jewish concept. Where would this fit into the study of leadership? Possibly, it would fit in the area of uniquely Christian leadership.

Esther 4–5: Esther

Esther becomes a servant to the people of Israel and even a foreign Gentile nation based upon a position that she did not seek. In this story is seen the instruction of Mordecai in teaching her to lead. Esther demonstrates effective leadership in a difficult situation, but she does so by not placing herself in the limelight, and further she is marginalized in a forced mar- riage and is asked to lead where she has no power at the risk of her life (Akinyele, 2009). In Esther 4, her uncle comes to ask her to risk her life to serve the people of Israel and save them from extinction. Then in Esther 4:16, she affirms that she will go in to ask the king for a favor at the risk of her life. She thwarts the evil plans of Haman, who wants to destroy the people of Israel. However, the intrigue is in how she brings this deliverance. She risks her life to go in to the king unannounced, to ask the king and Haman to come to a banquet which they do, according to Esther 5:5. When they attend the banquet, she simply invites them to a new banquet, “So my request is that if I have found favor in the sight of

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


the king and if it pleases the king to grant my petition … may the king and Haman come to the banquet that I will prepare for them” (Esther 5:7–8). She is not pressing them but she is serving them and Haman actually thinks this is a good sign for his rise to power. However, there is a secret that neither the king nor Haman know about this situation. The Queen is an Israelite!

At the next banquet, the Queen reveals what is happening and how Haman wants to destroy her people, the Jews. The king is enraged and Haman is executed (Esther 7:7–9). Then Esther and even her uncle are rewarded. The most intriguing statement among many in the book of Esther is this statement in Esther 4:14 when Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, says to her, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” This was an issue of calling and destiny over the life of Esther, who rose from obscurity in bizarre circumstances to become queen in the most powerful land of the time to save Israel. This was not circumstance; this was with purpose, divine purpose. She develops as a servant in a humble household with no advantages yet becomes a person of advantage and in this place was pressed into leadership. Yet, she chose to lead as a servant. She served with humility and altruism, considering others before herself in risking her life to save the many Israelites of her time in her nation.

Instructions for Leaders in the Old Testament

There are instructions in the Old Testament text for learning to serve and lead in both positive aspects as in the instructions to Joshua and in a negative sense in the counsel given to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Joshua is told to be strong and courageous several times at the beginning of his ministry in Joshua 1. Does courage fit into a model for leadership? Aristotle considered courage as one of the four virtues for human flour- ishing. This is not normally considered as part of servant leadership yet this brings a need for this discussion to the forefront.

Then Rehoboam is Solomon’s son and a new King in 2 Chronicles 10. The leaders of Israel come to him to discuss his coming rule over them. Rehoboam was told by the elders to be kind and the people would serve

S. Crowther


him. He was told to become their servant but he refused and came as a domineering leader. This split the Kingdom of Israel into two kingdoms, a breech that is not easily repaired. Here, servant leadership is seen as the only answer to this dilemma yet when refused it brought disaster.

God as the Model Leader in the Old Testament

However, the Old Testament provides the best example of a servant leader in that God is the ultimate leader and His leadership sets the example for others. He is seen as the shepherd with a heart for people (Psalm 23:1) and who is angered when the human shepherd leaders treat their follow- ers with oppression based in selfish goals (Ezekiel 34:1–24 and Jeremiah 23:1–4). These last two pericopes of rebuke to the shepherds will be examined in detail later in this study. Here is seen the essence of instruc- tion for servant leaders as well in the rebukes given to these leaders of Israel in the context of the Old Testament.

Pictures of Leaders in the Old Testament

Shepherd: Kings, Priests, Elders

There are some overall pictures of servant leadership in different types of leaders and the way that God views them and their function. In the Old Testament, kings, priests, elders, and other government leaders are called shepherds. This is the major word picture in the Old Testament for leadership. However, this picture is nuanced by the instructions that the Lord gives to these shepherds of His people. The concept of shepherd as applied to leaders among God’s people is traditional and is applied to God and God’s leadership style as well as to human leaders in the Old Testament (Witherington, 2007). This is a metaphor for leadership that is filled with significance for those who lived in this age of the Old Testament. One of the primary metaphors which biblical authors use for leadership is that of shepherd, and God has a divine preference for human agency and He chooses regularly to engage humans in the tasks of le adership

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


(Laniak, 2006). This preference for human agency shows up through the pages of the Old Testament as God chooses leaders, instructs leaders, and even rebukes leaders in His development of the people of God.

However, another major word used for leader in the Old Testament is that of “servant.” The language of servanthood is pervasive through the Old Testament with 16 different words for servanthood, and the concept of servanthood embraces the whole range of Old Testament leaders (Davidson, 2014). The prophets and even kings and priests as well as other people in general are seen as servants and leaders. In addition, there is a picture here of a suffering servant who turns out to be the Messiah in a prophetic passage of the ministry of Jesus. Then it is noteworthy how many women provide leadership while using explicit language of servant- hood in describing their role; though most of these women did not hold official positions, they still led (Davidson, 2014). There is an abundance of evidence in the Old Testament for servants who are leaders in many different contexts providing a foundation for understanding leadership from a biblical perspective. In this search for biblical servant leadership, insights are gained for leadership through these direct and indirect mes- sages to leaders as His shepherds and servants.

Suffering Servant: Isaiah 52–53

In Isaiah 52 and 53, there is a portrayal of the Messiah as the suffering servant that is picked up and developed later in the New Testament. The description of the Suffering Servant as an ideal leader connects to the prophetic hope of a future perfect king on the Davidic throne (Peterson, 2014). This picture begins in Isaiah 52 with the servant acting wisely and being exalted in the context of kings. Yet in chapter 53, he is described as growing up with no apparent beauty or majesty, and he was despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:2–3). This prophetic word speaks at length in a pro- phetic sense of the coming ministry of Jesus. He was a servant of the Lord and he served the people by bearing their iniquities, sins, and infirmities. This passage is full of conflict and contrasts. There will be anguish in His soul yet he will be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11). He will make many to be accounted as righteous through his service, and he bore the sin of many

S. Crowther


yet he still makes intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:8). Here is seen the ultimate in paradox in serving those who are underserving. This Messiah becomes the ultimate servant leader, literally laying down His life for those who are underserving. This is the crux of the gospel and yet the ultimate in servant leadership, a servant leader who dies to redeem follow- ers and then intercedes for not only followers but the persecutors as well.


The Levites were to serve the people, the priests, and the Lord at the tab- ernacle and later at the temple in some very menial tasks yet later we find them as the teachers and leaders of the people. Both Moses and Aaron, the early leaders in Israel, were from the tribe of Levi. Though the Levites are seen in Exodus and Leviticus, their function is introduced in Numbers 1:47–54. They are to carry the tabernacle and the furnishings and to camp around it. They are servants for the tabernacle and to the people. They were also not counted or given an inheritance like the other tribes. Their inheritance was the Lord and their work. Then the ministry of the Levites is seen again in Numbers 8:5–22. In verses 14–15, the Lord says the Levites are His and they have a special purpose in serving Him. The Levites are to go in and serve the tent of meeting. They were the servants to do the physical work of setting up the tabernacle and moving it when the camp moved, and they were to keep all of the physical elements in order.

However, during the time of David in 1 Chronicles 15:22–28, many generations later the Levites are appointed by David to lead worship to the Lord with different instruments and singing. Then when the tabernacle becomes a permanent temple under Solomon, this ministry of leading worship continues. Even under the later King Hezekiah, the Levites led worship. Nevertheless, the temple was destroyed under the conquest and rule of the Babylonians. In the restoration, it was Ezra, the priest, along with the Levites who taught all of the people the word of God and restored the temple. In the Old Testament, the Levites begin as physical servants to the tabernacle, but through faithfulness they become worship leaders, leaders who teach and even leaders who lead national restoration. In the Levites servanthood is seen as a place of growth and influence in leadership that grows in the doing of service to others.

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


The Prophets as Servants: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah

The prophets are servants to the Lord and they served the people as well and even kings though many times their service was rejected. The leader- ship role of prophet is intimately connected with the leadership role of the king in the ancient world and these prophets understood their role as a calling more than an occupation (Stevens, 2012). The prophets were called by God to speak to and serve the king and the people by speaking the word of God to them. There are several texts in the Old Testament that give important insights for servant leadership in these contexts. In Psalms 23:1 and in Isaiah 40:11, the Lord Himself is seen as a shepherd leader who gently guides and carries the flock or the lambs and this flock shall not be in need. It is a picture of leadership that is played out in other sections and other prophets and even in kings, as shall be seen in Saul and David. Then Isaiah proceeds in Isaiah 42 to talk about the Servant of the Lord. This points toward the Messiah yet is still significant that kings and prophets were called servants and in this context to rule is to serve and suffer and to lead is both to suffer and be a sacrificial lamb (Laniak, 2006). Do all leaders become sacrificial and/or do they suffer? This is an impor- tant line of thought to pursue in this study.

Leaders during the days of the prophets were admonished to exercise justice and compassion while humbling themselves before God, and these prophetic messages provide fundamental and divinely revealed principles of leadership for all ages (Peterson, 2014). These prophets provided direc- tion for these shepherd leaders often through rebuke. Jeremiah prophesied that it was the fault of leadership in Israel for the condition of Israel in causing the Babylonian captivity and the prophet issues woes or rebukes to these leaders or shepherds of Israel. The message of Jeremiah  to the leaders is a prophetic solution for Israel though it is not just a return to theocracy but it is a return to the Davidic times of a return of the Shepherd of Israel (Laniak, 2006). In other words, there was a new time coming with a return to this shepherd leadership that is endorsed in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Ezekiel not only criticizes the rulers but also blames them for the imminent apocalypse, correcting them through metaphor and direct address with the most developed leadership expose found in chapter 34 to the shepherds (Laniak, 2006). First, the leaders are rebuked

S. Crowther


for how they have not shepherded the sheep then the Lord says He will become the shepherd of the people. There are many instructions as to what the leaders did incorrectly that stands as clear instruction in what shepherd leaders should do or become. This list will be detailed later in the study in the failure of leaders in the Old Testament. In this search of the Old Testament, both Servant and Shepherd motifs come to the surface as images for leadership. Are these two compatible or do they bring different nuances to the concept of leadership or even servant leadership itself? As this study proceeds, this will be a question that is discussed for its connec- tion to contemporary issues of servant leadership.

The Texts of Servant Leadership in the Old Testament

2 Sam. 17:27–29; 19:31–40; 1 Kings 2:7—Barzillai

Some of these texts show examples of good servant leaders like Barzillai who was so good at serving that most people did not even know who he was or what he did, but he came and served King David at a very vulner- able time in the king’s life. Barzillai is introduced as part of a group in 2 Samuel 17 who brings supplies to David to help him as he is on the run from Absalom, David’s son, who had taken the kingdom from David. Then Barzillai is seen again in the camp of David as David returns victori- ous to Jerusalem; here there is an extended dialogue between the two men in 2 Samuel 19:31–33. In these verses, David invites Barzillai to return with him as a victor and to participate in all of the rewards of a retuned kingdom with all of its wealth and splendor. Barzillai refuses because he is old and it would not do him any good to receive these kinds of rich rewards. Then he refers to himself three times as David’s servant. Then they blessed one another and parted ways. Here was a true servant who served David in his time of need yet needed and wanted no reward; he simply wanted to be considered David’s servant. Even later as David was dying in 1 Kings 2:7, he remembered Barzillai and mentioned him for blessing to his son Solomon. What profound impact this one unknown servant had on the king and the blessing from this service passed down to the next generation.

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


1 Kings 3: Solomon

Consider Solomon who when given the opportunity by the Lord for wealth and power took wisdom to rule instead. In 1 Kings 3, Solomon is offering sacrifices to God at the beginning of his rule of Israel. He offered a thousand burnt offerings. At the end of the offerings, God comes to Solomon in a dream and tells him to ask for whatever he wants. This is quite open ended. In his answer, he calls both David and himself ser- vants. Then he calls himself a servant three separate times in his answer. However, what he asks for is wisdom or a discerning heart to govern the people. He wants to be able to know right from wrong in leading the people. Solomon’s desire is to embody the Hebrew concept of wisdom with practical application for the benefit of the people (Wibberding, 2014). Here is a servant’s heart, his first concern is to know how to do well and lead well with people in his charge. The Lord is so happy with this answer that He also gives Solomon wealth and fame which he did not request. The Lord’s answer here provides insight for leadership issues. The normal answer according to the Lord would have been to request wealth or victory over enemies. However, He indicated that Solomon did not ask for blessings for himself; therefore, God was going to bless him beyond his request to be able to serve well. What did Solomon want? He wanted wisdom to serve the people, he wanted to discern right from wrong, and he wanted ethical leadership ability. Ethical leadership may be implied in servant leadership but here is a call to pay attention to this issue as an extension or nuance for servant leadership. Then when servant leadership is pursued, does it bring blessings in other areas that are per- sonal? It did for Solomon; is this true with others as well?


The most powerful picture is that of Nehemiah, a household servant who changed the world by serving the people of Israel in rebuilding Jerusalem. Nehemiah was a slave in service of the king but he desired to go to Jerusalem where he went and as a servant he became a leader of leaders and formed teams to accomplish the task of rebuilding the city walls

S. Crowther


(Gane, 2014). Here is a man who wept over the broken condition of Jerusalem as he was living in a foreign Gentile kingdom in Nehemiah chapter 1. He then prayed and he appealed to the Lord calling Israel God’s servants and referring to himself and Moses as God’s servant. He saw himself as the servant of the Lord. Then he served the Lord by serving the people of Jerusalem by leading them in the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. In this prayer, he appealed to God that the Lord would give him favor with the king and the king granted his desire to go to Jerusalem and rebuild its ruins. Nehemiah then rebuilt the wall through using teams and delegating authority or empowering others to lead their teams in the rebuilding project. He led with prayer and encouragement and the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6). They worked with all of their heart to rebuild this wall around Jerusalem that had fallen. In the midst of the building of the wall, he discovered that the poor in the area were being oppressed by the wealthier Israelites. He found that the wealthy were exacting usury from the poor, even taking property from them to settle debts and he made them reverse this practice. They said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say” (Nehemiah 5:12). Even the community and society around Nehemiah benefitted from his leadership and in this way he was operat- ing altruistically.

Nehemiah restored the Levites, the singers, and the worshippers in Jerusalem and restored order in Jerusalem. In this restoration, Ezra the priest steps forward and reads from the text of the Scripture for the first time in many years. The people of Jerusalem celebrated for seven days followed by repentance and a time of bringing in new people into the city along with many more Priests and Levites. In his final reforms, Nehemiah restored the offerings and the tithe to support the Priests and the Levites and he purifies the priesthood and the Levites while assigning them their duties. In this activity is seen that Nehemiah sees himself as the servant of the Lord and yet He serves the people in several different ways for their benefit. He helps restore the wall through team leadership and participation. He altruistically looks out for others, even the poor who are being oppressed around him. Then, finally, he restores worship, the priesthood, and the word of God to Jerusalem so that they can be servants of God as well.

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


1 Samuel: David and Saul

There is a contrast between two Kings in David and Saul in showing the difference between autocratic and servant leadership. Nevertheless, David also exhibited other forms of leadership, like charismatic leadership. Here is a classic tale of two kings in a struggle for power, and while one has all of the advantages, the other has godly responses.

According to 1 Samuel 9–13, Saul’s ascent came in stages wherein Saul was anointed by Samuel to be king, then the two met later on the road and finally when Saul was singled out by lot in the tribe of Benjamin; yet in all of this, Saul’s modesty was shown as he hid behind the baggage when Samuel tried to introduce him (Lasor, Hubbard, & Bush, 1996). Was this humility in the beginning of the rule of Saul? Time will tell that it was not humility, or if there was humility here, it was not cultivated. Kings in Israel, once they became Kings, were to write out the law or the Pentateuch and were instructed in it not to exalt themselves above their countrymen and so they would not turn aside from the commandment of God (Deuteronomy 17:19–20). Saul had the humble beginnings and modesty and at least some direction from the law of God in not exalting himself even as the king. Yet as king, he continued to focus on self and exalting himself to his own detriment. This is seen from the beginning of his rule in 1 Samuel 13:2 when he chose men for himself, and when the battle began with the Philistines, it was Jonathan who won the first vic- tory and yet Saul claimed it (1 Samuel 13:3–4). It gets worse when Saul makes a demand on the men and Jonathan unknowingly breaks it and then Saul tries to have Jonathan killed even though Jonathan had just led the troops to victory (1 Samuel 14:45). However, this flaw becomes even more evident when David enters the picture.

David kills the giant and becomes Saul’s son-in-law in 1 Samuel 17 and 18 but it is of note in the final verse (vs. 30) of chapter 18 that David behaved more wisely than the other servants of Saul, so much so that his name was highly esteemed. David’s fame was so widespread that even foreign kings heard the words of the song about David, “Saul had slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 21:11). This did not sit well with Saul who from that time on began to try to kill David; he tried until his own death in battle years later. It is not the one who

S. Crowther


starts well who finishes a winning race; it is he who finishes well. It appears that Saul had opportunity to do well but he did not finish well. What happened? Pride, self-focus, and self-exaltation: the very issue he was warned against in becoming king became his downfall.

David takes a similar route to becoming king. He is anointed by the same prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:10–13 where it is also seen that David’s beginnings were so modest that even his own father did not consider him to be a candidate for king. He does immediately begin rule as king much in the same way that Saul began. David becomes a mighty warrior who gains fame for his valor to his own detriment in the design of Saul to kill him. David fled from Saul. Yet David had two unique chances to kill Saul and rid himself of his royal persecutor, once while Saul was alone in a cave (1 Samuel 24:2–9) and once when Saul was asleep (1 Samuel 26:6–16) but he did not kill him since Saul was the Lord’s anointed. In both instances, Saul relented for a short time but returned soon enough to try to kill David. Ultimately in 1 Samuel 31:4, Saul dies and David slowly becomes king, though he deeply laments the death of Saul in 2 Samuel 1.

David becomes a great king in Israel through some turmoil but not of his doings. He restores a tabernacle for worship, he restores lands to Israel and even expands it, he writes many psalms as a worship leader, yet he also fails in the issues of adultery and murder surrounding the issue of his wife to be, Bathsheba. However, what kind of leader was he for Israel? David was a shepherd king. When all of the rulers of Israel came together to make David king, they said that previously when Saul was king David was the one who led us out and in and the Lord said to you, “you will shepherd my people Israel and you will be a ruler over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:2). There are two contrasting stories in David’s rule: one of disobedi- ence in the middle of his rule and another of hope and light and the end of his rule.

David committed adultery with Bathsheba and commanded the mur- der of her husband Uriah, one of his inner circle in 2 Samuel 11. He appears to get away with it but a prophet, Nathan, comes to him before the child is born and uncovers his sin with a story of a poor shepherd and designates David as the oppressor in the story. The prophet revealed how far David had fallen from being the shepherd of God’s people and rather

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


than protecting them on the battlefield he was at home sacrificing them for his own pleasure (Laniak, 2006). He failed as a shepherd; his job as a shepherd was to protect them, to consider them instead of moving into self-exaltation as Saul had done. Nevertheless, toward the end of his rule, David is seen again as a shepherd pleading for the people under a plague; in 2 Samuel 24:17, he appealed for the people since they were just sheep and the fault was his for this plague.

David was a great king but he still had flaws. He is a hero in spots but then in some areas he is the oppressor. It is significant that God does not let him get away with these flaws and he pays dearly for them but he continues to rule and to serve the Lord unlike Saul who was destroyed by his pride and bitterness against David. The testimony of the Lord is that David is a man after his own heart and this is twice repeated—once in 1 Samuel 13:14 and then in the New Testament in Acts 13:22. This does not mean he was perfect, but his heart was to do right even though through self-exaltation and self-focus he lost his way. However, he found strength to come back. His strength was in his worship and his deep con- nection to the Lord through which he was able to struggle back to effec- tive leadership. The difference in his leadership from good to bad and back to good had several qualities. The first was he was to be a shepherd, to consider and care for the people as sheep before himself. The second was, as Saul, he would have known the law for kings not to exalt them- selves above their countrymen, and, third, not turn aside from the law of God. Saul violated all three of these on a regular basis and David deeply violated the three on the issue of Bathsheba. David returned to become a great king while Saul was defeated and not honored by many except for David, the new king. The difference is David lived a life of humility and consideration for others until he was tempted and he fell into the pit of self-destruction. However, he repented and returned to do the hard work of serving others in spite of his past. Saul fell in the same pit but never returned. In this shepherd leadership, there are found three important attributes. Consideration and care for people before self is paramount with a second being not exalting self above peers and to be careful to fol- low the Lord. These first two qualities can be found in servant leader- ship as well, with the third found in Christian servant leadership.

S. Crowther


The Failure of Leadership in the Old Testament

The Old Testament gives several examples of failure in leadership and this failure repeatedly came through pride and self-focus in the leader. These examples are seen in the different sections of the Old Testament, with some leaders more faithful and successful than others but still with failures. It is important to see these failures not just as failures but instead as instructive for effective, good, and godly leadership.

Judges: Samson, Gideon

Samson and Gideon both were called by God to be judges or leaders of Israel and they both failed but one succeeded first and failed in his legacy, whereas the other one failed from the beginning of his ministry. The theme of the book of Judges is that during this time everyone did what was right in their own eyes, but God would intervene by sending leaders from diverse corners of Israel to lead Israel out of oppression and to bring them back to a focus on serving the Lord. However, even the judges that were considered good leaders, like Gideon and Samson, marred their actions with wrong behavior like idolatry and even immorality (Moskala, 2014). The time of the judges is a good example of the failure of leader- ship in the Old Testament.

Gideon is an example of a leader who begins well yet the legacy he left for Israel brought disaster and destruction. In chapter 6 of Judges, Gideon is approached by an angel. Gideon responded to this call to deliver Israel from the Midianites with great humility and caution much like Moses before him. He needed to be convinced but once convinced he obeys the Lord’s explicit instructions to reduce his army to 300 to face the thou- sands in the Midian army. Through divine strategy and intervention Gideon wins the day. Then Gideon is found in a dangerous place in Judges 8:23–28 wherein the people ask Gideon to rule over them. He answers well in saying neither he nor his children will rule over them. However, this is where the trouble begins. He wanted some of the spoils of gold from the Midianites and they gladly gave it to him. Then he formed an ephod from it; this was a priestly garment breastplate made of

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


gold. The High Priest in the tabernacle was to wear one but these are not the same. This one made by Gideon was worshipped and the people com- mitted immorality in their worship of it. However, they had 40 years of rest from their enemies in this idolatrous state. After Gideon’s death, one of the sons killed most of the other 70 sons in a grab for power. This son of Gideon, Abimilech, ruled over Israel for three years of turmoil and died in a battle when a woman threw a millstone from a tower. Gideon was a man of humility and obedience to the Lord but in the end greed for power overcame him and his children. His legacy was one of disaster and turmoil. Great leaders are leaders who develop greatness in their organi- zation past their present leadership era (Collins, 2001). Servant leaders produce other servant leaders. Gideon began as a servant leader to the Lord and to the people but along the way he lost this commitment in leadership by his attraction to self-exaltation and greed, which became his leadership legacy.

Samson begins with humble beginnings. He is listed as one of the men of old who gained approval by faith in Hebrews 11:32. He was consid- ered a great leader of the faith yet he had some major issues that hindered his leadership along the way. Scripture gives us a very human picture of these leaders in both Old and New Testaments as lessons for the contem- porary leader. This story of Samson certainly illustrates no New Testament ethic in that he was selfish and had no control of his passions, but there were some aspects that could be viewed positively as well (Lasor et al., 1996). Samson was clearly a flawed leader. He begins well in working against the Philistines who are oppressing Israel in Judges 14 and 15. However, he quickly falls into immorality in a forbidden relationship in Judges 16. He is deceived through his own blinded lust and captured by the Philistines and they physically blind him (Judges 16:20–21). Over his time as a prisoner, his strength and relationship with the Lord is restored. In a final act that takes his own life, he destroys many of the lords of the Philistines (Judges 16:28–30). This is not the destruction of the Philistines but it is a victory for Israel. This is similar to a contempo- rary story in the Star Wars saga. Young Anakin Skywalker fights against the dark side but enters into a forbidden relationship in the process. This time it is not the woman who deceives him through but his own lust for

S. Crowther


power through his distorted relationship with the emperor. Once deceived he is defeated and becomes the part machine Darth Vader. However, in the end, he participates in the destruction of this dark oppressive empire through a major victory on the battle star; though it does not end the empire, it does end many of their leaders. Samson is a warning to con- temporary leaders. It is a warning to learn early to overcome self-exalta- tion and self- focus issues in the life and leadership development process. It is also a warning to be careful in starting well, not to be led off the path through pride and a focus on self, instead learning to have an increased focus on others and on calling. The judges warn us about the secret power of internal issues that can destroy a leader. These internal issues show up in the form of greed and lust but they begin with a focus on self that can increase with success.

Prophets: Elisha’s Servant

Here is Elisha, one of the greatest prophets of Israel, yet his servant failed the same test for leadership that Elisha had passed many years before him. Elisha was found by Elijah to become his servant shortly after Elijah had struggled with the Lord in the cave experience. The story is found at the end of 1 Kings 19 wherein Elijah throws his mantle over Elisha as an act of anointing him as prophet in his own place. Then 1 Kings 19:21 reveals the function of Elisha, “Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.” He became his servant and he did it so well that he indeed becomes prophet in Elijah’s place in 2 Kings 2:13–14. However, Elisha as the prophet has a servant as well and in 2 Kings 5 the captain of a foreign army comes for healing to Elisha. Elisha brings healing to him and the captain wants to reward Elisha but he rejects any reward. However, later the servant of Elisha, Gehazi, is found deceiving the captain to receive this reward for himself in 1 Kings 5:22–23. However, by the end of chapter 5, Gehazi is struck with leprosy and there is no one who follows Elisha to become prophet in his place. This is a tragedy not only for Elisha and the prophets; it is a tragedy for Israel. What was the problem? Gehazi chose not to serve as the path to leadership. Notice that even when Elijah and

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


Elisha were prophets, they had a heart for the people of Israel and served them in difficult circumstances. This call to leadership could not be done in any other way. Servant leadership is not only an effective way of leader- ship, but it is also an effective path to growth in leadership.

Shepherds Who Failed Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34

The Lord gives two separate rebukes to failed shepherds and why they failed which gives instruction for shepherd leaders to follow in how to be good leaders. These rebukes come from two prophets during the early part of the exile of Judah in Babylon. While in the captivity, Jeremiah was still in the land of Judah and the other prophet Ezekiel was in the land of captivity, Babylon, yet they both spoke directly to the people and leaders of Israel.

In Jeremiah 23:1–4, Jeremiah rebukes the shepherds of Israel, not the natural shepherds but the leaders under the metaphor of sheep and shep- herd. This is a climax to Jeremiah’s condemnation of the last of several self-centered kings and this is a final woe on Judah’s shepherds (Laniak, 2006). There is a thick inner texture here with repetitive, progressive, and open-middle-closing texture built upon a chiasm structure. The repeti- tive texture focuses on the word “shepherd” that is used four times in this short pericope while there are other words that are used twice, but these are used in almost mirror image ways in repetitive contrasts between how the shepherds have been tending and how God will tend his sheep. There is an open-middle-closing structure that forms a chiasm with an empha- sis on the middle of this chiasm. The first half of the chiasm in two stanza’s focuses on the shepherd’s failure in leadership. The center focuses on what the Lord is going to do to them in an ironic twist. Then the second half focuses on what the Lord is going to do in providing leader- ship for his people.

a. Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture b. You have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not attended to them c. I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds

S. Crowther


b`. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture and they will be fruitful and multiply a`. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing (Jeremiah 23:1–4)

In addition, each section has a statement that this is a declaration of the Lord, four times in these four verses. His message to the bad leaders is that I am about to pay attention to you for the way that you did tend to and pay attention to my people. This would be an intensely terrifying word for any leader to hear.

The progressive texture is found in the progress of the narrative that goes from the rebuke for what the shepherds have done to the declaration of judgment as found in the middle of this tight declaration. Finally, it moves on to the resolution of God providing good shepherds. These good shep- herds will provide the opposite of the evil ones. Then at the end there is a progressive list of how the people will respond to this leadership that will bring healing. They will no longer be afraid to the point of shaking in ter- ror and then they will no longer be missing. The bad leadership had driven people from Israel, from the Lord, from the vision, and these new leaders would restore them. But how would they do it and even more important what was it that brought the people to this state in the beginning?

This texture forms almost an antiphonal approach in that one side of the bad leadership does this while the good side answer the same issue but in a new way. It is an exercise in contrasts. The evil shepherds are destroy- ing and scattering the sheep in verse 1. The Lord’s answer to this is that he will gather them back and a sign of this will be—they will not only come back but they will be fruitful and multiply in verse 3. Then the rebuke turns to how these bad leaders had failed in verse 2; they scattered the flock (notice this scattering is repeated twice) simply by not attending to them, not paying attention to them. The crux of the matter is that the leaders had failed by not paying attention to and taking care of the peo- ple. They were paying attention to something or someone else, in this text it does not matter who or what was taking their attention. The point is it was not on the people or the flock or the sheep of his pasture. The good

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


leaders will be raised up; they will be developed and put over them both for the sake of authority and for the sake of paying attention to them and caring for them. This new way of leading will bring them back and it will relieve them of their terror and fear. People who are not under the cloud of fear can live freer, produce more, and even serve others. In this way, they will be fruitful and multiply, which was part of the original com- mand from the garden. The issue here for leadership is that God has a way of leadership that is considered good and it is in serving the people by tending and caring for them, which should produce security and fruit- fulness so they can multiply. Multiply in what way? This may be a ques- tion for another day. However, it would include multiplying who one is and what one does in life and leadership. There is more here in Jeremiah but for the moment this study moves on to another prophet.

Ezekiel 34 is a much longer pericope of rebuke to the shepherds but uses a slightly different form. In this extended metaphor is a summary of the themes and perspectives that dominate the prophetic understanding of leadership from the perspective of this pastoral language (Laniak, 2006). This pericope uses inner texture in its development of this rebuke. There is a repetitive texture with progressive texture used in contrasts and there is even a cause and effect argument in this section. The word “shep- herd” is used here 11 times with “flock” used 9 times and “sheep” used 5  times. The focus here in these contrasts as well is on good and evil shepherds and their impact on the flock or the sheep who are the people in Israel. The cause and effect is found in verse 7 and 8 where the Lord says, “Therefore you shepherds … As I live’, declares the Lord” and then He goes on to describe what He is going to do as a result of their bad shepherding. The first contrast is found in verse 2, where the shepherds have been feeding themselves instead of feeding the flock. However, in verse 10, it is found that the shepherds were actually consuming the flock itself. They had not only neglected the flock but they were actually work- ing against the flock, they were the direct cause of the problem with the sheep being destroyed. The second contrast is found in verse 6 where the flock had been scattered and no one was there to search for them. There was no one to care for and look out for the sheep, for the people of Israel. These leaders were doing something else but here we are told what they are doing: they are feeding themselves, they are focused on themselves.

S. Crowther


Then the ultimate contrast is found in verses 7 and 8 wherein the Lord says now this is what he is going to do in contrast to the previous shep- herds who are being replaced by the Lord Himself. This section pivots on these two verses with contrast of lists before and after in a progression from bad to good leadership. Part of this progression can be seen in Table 4.2.

The prophet describes the shepherds and how they had failed with some instruction on what they should have done but now the Lord inter- venes and contrasts how He will lead as a shepherd.

In verse 9, the Lord begins this description by taking the sheep and the job of shepherd or leader from the shepherds. He begins the contrast in verse 11 that He will search for the sheep and He will bring them back and He will feed them and in this process is found in verse 15 that the Lord will lead them and bring them to rest or peace. Then in verse 16 He will bring them back and heal them and strengthen them. However, at the end of the verse He brings judgment by destroying those who have become fat and strong. The shepherds are not only rejected but they will be judged for the destruction of the flock of God. Leadership is seen here as a very important task that has God’s attention. These leaders failed in leadership by focusing on themselves and self-exaltation at the expense of their followers. The leaders were to care for, feed, gather, heal, and strengthen the people while leading them with gentleness not severity. These leaders utterly failed but the Lord stepped in and brought effective leadership by being the shepherd to the people by gathering, feeding, and healing them.

Table 4.2 Contrasts of shepherding from bad leadership

Ezekiel 34 Shepherds Contrast

2 Are feeding themselves They should feed the flock

3 Eat the fat and clothe self without feeding the flock

4 Did not strengthen the sick or heal the diseased

4 Did not seek the lost 4 Dominated them with force and severity 5–6 Scattered and they became food for others You did not seek for


Servant Leadership in the Old Testament


The Failure of Moses

In addition, Moses fails in his leadership at one point late in his life and as a result he was not allowed to go into the Promised Land. Moses was a great, larger-than-life leader. Yet he had a few flaws and these were enough to keep him from finishing well. The failure in Moses’ leadership is found in Numbers 20:8–12 wherein Moses is told by the Lord to speak to the rock to produce water. In the past one other time, Moses was to strike the rock for water but this time he was to speak to it. Instead of speaking to the rock though Moses spoke to the people in anger, “Listen now you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock” (Numbers 20:11)? He spoke against the people instead of to the rock and spoke harshly to them in a question. Contempt is heard in this question of Moses; in that one word, the act of name in calling them “rebels,” Moses summed up years of frustration but it was actually he who rebelled at the moment; Moses lost the respect for those he led and God no longer felt Moses could lead them to their homeland (Brown, 2013). Moses had changed in his heart from the servant of the Lord and to the people to the commander of rebels. He had disobeyed the Lord not only in the act concerning the rock but also in the attitude change from servant leading servants to a rebel leader. Nevertheless, at the end of his life, Moses has one more positive aspect to his leadership that is found at the end of the Pentateuch in Deuteronomy 34:9, “Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him.” Moses mentored Joshua for many years and in doing so he raised up an effective successor. Effective leadership needs to be passed on for a legacy of leadership. Part of Moses’ success as a leader was having a successor who continued to lead successfully. So, even though Moses did not finish all the way to the end he continued to influ- ence Israel through his leadership for another generation. In this end of Moses’ leadership it is seen that attitude matters and issues of the heart are important to biblical leaders. It is also seen that part of success in leadership is having a successor who will continue to lead well.

S. Crowther


Servant Leadership or Shepherd Leadership

In this context comes the issue of leadership in the Old Testament—is it servant leadership or shepherd leadership or does it include issues from other models like charismatic leadership? Is there a difference between these two concepts of servant and shepherd in the Hebrew Scriptures? From these positive and negative pictures of the Old Testament emerge several important ideas for servant leadership including issues of humil- ity, overcoming fear, confidence, and failure. Some are positive and some are negative but these are real-life dilemmas for leaders that if addressed before the disaster can bring good fruit. These attributes can be consid- ered and developed to add strength to the model of servant leadership.

Leadership Lessons from the Old Testament

Shepherds were the lowest and least desired of occupations. It was from this place of humility and lack of recognition that the leader was to serve. These leaders learned to overcome fear and difficult circumstances and even failure. In addition, these Old Testament leaders were careful to fol- low divine directives in fulfilling their calling as leaders. In the Old Testament, leaders were often called servants of the Lord but this usually implied service to a group of people as well. At other times in many places the leaders were called shepherds. However, it was found that in many of the places shepherd and servant leadership coincided with shep- herd leadership having a high priority on serving and caring for people especially followers. In this context though there were found several areas for added nuance to servant leadership especially in the area of internal character development and how that is done. This development can even happen in the context of hardship and suffering as seen in several leaders and their development in the Old Testament. These concepts will be more fully developed in later sections of this study.

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament



Many highly diverse texts have been researched in this section with add- ing new insights for biblical leadership and for biblical servant leadership. Some of these insights come from peering into some of the failures of even great leaders with some who finished well and some who did not finish well. This study has examined the leadership of known leaders, like Joseph, and unknown leaders, like Barzillai, as well as leaders of renown, like Moses, and leaders who failed many times, like Samson. There were insights gleaned from stories like that of Esther as well as instructions or rather instructions in the context of rebuke as found in Jeremiah. These insights include issues like learning to overcome the human tendency toward greed and self-exaltation early in the process of leadership. Other issues include the reality that attitude counts and can help or hinder one in leading and serving others. There are large lists that can be drawn from this study of the Old Testament alone. There are even many more leaders and texts in this section of Scripture that can be studied like the Psalms or Proverbs as well as leaders like Deborah or Daniel. The over-arching idea found in these texts is that good leaders care for, tend to, and serve other people as servants of the Lord and shepherds of the people. Nevertheless, there is more work to be done in the life and teachings of Jesus as well as study in the rest of the New Testament teachings on lead- ership. Of note though is that this current study is only a portion of what is needed in this research for a biblical model of leadership.


Akinyele, O. (2009). Queen Esther as a Servant Leader in Esther 5:1–8. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 2(2), 51–79.

Ayers, M. (2006). Towards a Theology of Leadership. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 1, 3–27.

Bauchman, V. (2013). Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

Brown, E. (2013). Leadership into the Wilderness: Authority and Anarchy in the Book of Numbers. New Milford, CT: Maggid Books.

S. Crowther


Childs, B. S. (1975). The Book of Exodus. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press.

Clinton, J. R. (2012). The Making of a Leader. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress. Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap—And

Others Don’t. New York, NY: Harper Business. Davidson, J.  (2014). Women in the Old Testament Leadership Principles. In

S.  Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 259–275). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Fee, G., & Stuart, D. (2014). How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Gane, B. (2014). Nehemiah: The Servant Leader. In S. Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 245–257). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Guinness, O. (2003). The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. Nashville, TN: W Publishing.

Janzen, W. (2000). Exodus (Vol. 2). Scottdale, PA: Herald Press. Laniak, T.  S. (2006). Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and

Leadership in the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. Lasor, W. S., Hubbard, D. A., & Bush, F. W. (1996). Old Testament Survey: The

Message, Form and Background of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Moskala, J. (2014). The Historical Books. In S. Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 65–85). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Patterson, K. A. (2003). Servant Leadership: A Theoretical Model. Paper presented at the Servant Leadership Roundtable.

Peterson, P. B. (2014). The Prophets. In S. Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 103–122). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Robbins, V. K. (1996). Exploring the Texture of Texts: A Guide to Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

Stevens, M.  E. (2012). Leadership Roles in the Old Testament: King, Prophet, Priest, Sage. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.

Wibberding, J. R. (2014). Wisdom Literature and the Psalms. In S. Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 87–101). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Willimon, W. H. (2002). Back to the Burning Bush. Christian Century, 119(9), 7. Witherington, B. (2007). Letter and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio-

Rhetorical Commentary on 1–2 Peter. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Servant Leadership in the Old Testament

75© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7_5

5 Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus

Jesus is the ultimate leader in that He is God come in the flesh. Therefore, we can learn from Him, and though He is omniscient, He has chosen to teach and model certain ways of living. In Jesus is found the example of a servant leader who, though fully divine, took on humanity and the human experience. He did this to redeem us from our sins and this is paramount in all of Christian theology. Nevertheless, He did at least two other things during His residence on this earth.

First, Jesus gives many instructions on multiple issues in the context of His day though these are taught in such a way that these instructions are timeless truths. He teaches about eternal issues and salvation, again, these are paramount in the New Testament. Then He teaches about issues that relate to our sojourn here on the earth among society. He teaches about economics, marriage and family issues, proper motivations, and leader- ship among many other topics. He is concerned in the gospels and in the first chapter of Acts about developing leaders in the training of the 12, and there are even 70 close disciples at times. He gives them and by extension everyone instructions about leadership that are theoretical and practical. Second, He lives an example of life, relationships, and leader- ship, and then we are told to imitate His example. He is the pattern or role model for leadership. In this pattern, servant leadership is seen and


discussed but is this the same as the twenty-first-century model? If it is servant leadership, does it expand the present model with its seven virtu- ous constructs and three goals or does it critique it? Then the final ques- tion is whether He gives more that goes beyond servant leadership in its present form.

Instructions About Serving

Jesus gives instructions about serving to His disciples, and today as these are studied, it brings the advantage of listening to these conversations that are filled with wisdom and divine directives. Many of these directives are found to be countercultural to first century as well as twenty-first- century cultures and societies. In addition, at some points in these teach- ings they become counterintuitive as well. It seems like they are opposite to what one should do in a leadership role. However, in this way, these concepts would fit well with servant leadership. This study will examine four texts of the teaching of Jesus about leadership, but this is only a beginning. There are many more texts that could be chosen for this analy- sis and they should be chosen and examined in the future for a more nuanced understanding of the instructions from Jesus on leadership.

Mark 10

In Mark 10, Jesus teaches the disciples to become servants to all. Is this a leadership issue or a life issue or is there some connection between the two? In this text, in Mark 10:35–45, Jesus had just told the disciples the third time about his coming death and how the Jewish leaders will mock Him as well as kill Him. Then the next conversation here is the question from James and John about how to be at Jesus’ right- and left-hand sides in His Kingdom. It is important to point out here that the disciples were not aware of the implications of Jesus’ coming death. They were looking for and expecting Jesus to be a military Messiah and to throw off the yoke of the Roman military machine and set up Israel as the center of all king- doms on earth. This was quite a vision that was held by many Jews of the

S. Crowther


day generally but it was wrong. It was so wrong that Jesus corrected it at several points and these corrections were remembered by the disciples after the Day of Pentecost when they finally understood about His Messiahship.

In this story, the disciples were moving in the wrong direction with their questions. The disciples were perplexed at many points in their con- nection to Jesus and His teachings. In the previous encounter in this same chapter Jesus told them that it was difficult for this rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. In their thinking, if one was rich that person was close to God due to the blessing of wealth, which was seen as a sign of closeness to God, and the poor were considered to be distant from God. They were greatly perplexed when they found out that this rich man would not enter the kingdom of God. In their perplexity, Jesus told them about His death and their response was to ask for favored seats in His Kingdom. They did not understand His less-than-subtle message here about the way of the kingdom.

James and John ask for permission to sit at His right- and left-hand sides, and this begins a conversation that ends with Jesus explaining this concept about giving and serving. The key to life is not self-exaltation as was the thinking of society at this time. These are Jesus’ most clear teach- ings on leadership, and in this teaching He redefined the vocabulary of leadership and He taught them how to lead in the Kingdom of God (Wilkes, 1998). This new way of leading was in response to the questions of James and John in their desire to sit in the exalted position. This is a very human tendency to have the place of privilege and power. The dis- ciples are arguing among themselves about their own order of precedence, which leads to Jesus teaching on the paradoxical reversal of standards (Hooker, 1999). Martin Luther says that God hides Himself under oppo- sites (Althaus, 1966). Jesus redirected their passion for position and gave them a new path, an unusual path to greatness in leading. Jesus responded to the disciples’ mistaken notions about leadership and His teaching cuts through the superfluous issues of current leadership practices and moves quickly to the heart of the matter (Young, 2009). They wanted the posi- tions of greatness but did not actually ask to be great; that might have been too bold. Some even suggest that the ensuing discussion about who would be the greatest was prompted by the thought of Jesus’ death and who would replace Him, but then Jesus shares a teaching that will force

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus


them to rethink the values that characterize a true leader (Young, 2009). Jesus cuts to the core issue of the concepts of leadership and greatness.

The text of Mark 10:42–45 contains the core of the teaching of Jesus on leadership. The methods used here will be inner texture of Socio- Rhetorical Interpretation. The inner texture of the text resides in the fea- tures in the language of the text, like repetition of words or dialogue; it is the texture of the medium of communication (Robbins, 1996). De Silva (2004) says that inner texture is about the threads that the author has woven together to create meaning. In addition, grammatical analysis of historical grammatical method will be used to examine some of the words and sentences. Grammatical analysis is to understand the words we are reading (De Silva, 2004). Then finally, Inductive Bible Study will be used to examine issues like contrasts. An emphasis of Inductive Bible Study is the form of the text identifying literary structures showing how the struc- ture forms the meaning of the text and one of these areas is that of con- trast, that is, the association of opposites and the difference that the writer desires to emphasize (Bauer & Traina, 2014).

In this short pericope, there are several words that are repeated and these words become the focus of this text. Great is used twice and servant or its derivatives is used four times. The first section discusses greatness, but the second section discuses becoming a servant. Then it is apparent that Jesus uses particular words carefully here, like these Gentile rulers are considered rulers and these rulers exercise authority over others. Then He connects the words of great and first in this discussion. Notice that there are a series of contrasts here that form the core of the teaching on leadership. In addition, there are two examples held up here as role models. The first is a negative one, the Gentile rulers. The second is a positive one and this is Jesus. Notice again the use of contrast here. In the conclusion there is a chiasm. Chiasm’s are found in literature and are named after the Greek letter for “X,” chi. It is a sentence or sentences that use the same or similar topics twice and yet reverse the order. It is a pneumonic device for memory but it is also used to focus attention on its teaching. The chiasm here is found right at the end of the pericope. Notice the structure here of this teaching (Fig. 5.1):

There is also an opening, middle, and closing pattern from the inner texture here. Verse 42 is the opening which discusses the Gentile rulers then the middle is found in verse 43a with a statement of contrast—“But

S. Crowther


it shall not be so among you.” Then the final section is verses 43b–45 ending with the chiasm. These contrasts permeate this pericope from the overall level, like in verse 43a to the small level as in the chiasm in verse 45. The implication here is that Gentile leadership, which was the promi- nent model of leadership in this time period, was totally different, even opposite from the model of leadership that Jesus taught and lived. In that Jesus moves the discussion to Gentile rulers; this section is clearly about leadership. The later sections of servant are in contradistinction to these rulers. As a contrast they would both need to talk about the same issue. The issue is being a ruler or leadership. Table 5.1 shows these concepts together.

Jesus takes great care to contrast Gentile leadership with servant lead- ership. This is a clear declaration of servant leadership. First, it is of note that Jesus does not rebuke the disciples for wanting to be great. He actu- ally encourages this desire for greatness. Nevertheless, in this kind of lead- ing, greatness looks different and has a different path than the norm. These Gentile rulers are considered rulers. This word “considered” means to think or seem to be something (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). They seem

For the Son of Man came not to be served

but to serve and give His life as a ransom

Fig. 5.1 Chiasm from Mark 10:45

Table 5.1 Mark 10:42–45 patterns

Scripture Repetition Open-M-Closing Contrasts Key words

10:42 Great Opening Considered, over 10:43a Middle Not among you 10:43b Great, servant Closing But whoever Must be 10:44 Slave Closing First 10:45 Served, serve Closing But to serve Ransom

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus


to be leaders but are they to be imitated as leaders? The implication is that they are not the models to follow for a pattern of leadership. Then notice that they exercise authority over, they are not with the followers in col- laboration, they are over them, and they use their authority as one over another.

The repetitions change just after the middle as it moves into the closing. The focus moves from greatness to serving. Wanting to be great is good but the focus now needs to change to becoming a servant in how to become a great leader. At the same time these repetitions change; the con- trasts begin to appear. The first contrast is in verse 43a and it is the large contrast in the full teaching in this pericope. This is the contrast between Gentile rulers and servant leaders. These are two opposite ends of the spec- trum in leadership. One focuses on the greatness of the person and this person’s authority, while the other one focuses on the person becoming a servant and then serving others. This contrast moves quickly into another contrast in verse 43b. This is the transition from greatness to servanthood. Greatness is a good goal but there is a new and opposite path. Notice here that his greatness is not an appearance of greatness but it is becoming great and the process is now in becoming a servant. It does not begin with serv- ing but first it begins with becoming a servant. It is an ontological change first. This shift then is a shift in thinking, priorities, and even a shift in being or ontos. In verse 44, Jesus restates this concept but replaces some of the words. He replaces greatness with first and servant with slave. This word “first” instead of “greatness” means first of several (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). This word is transitioning the focus from self to others and it is a position among many instead of a place that is over others. The word “ser- vant” is one who renders help to another, whereas slave is one who is in obedience to another (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). These do not cancel each other but instead work together in this person who helps others and this is in obedience to God. This is the divine intention for leaders. Then notice that to be great one must become servant of all. This is not a sug- gestion; this is what must happen for this path to greatness to work. In addition, the word here is not that one should serve but that the leader must become servant. It is an ontological change; it is an internal issue first, then comes the giving and the serving.

S. Crowther


The final contrast is found in the final verse and it is also the chiasm. Here Jesus says that even the Son of man came in this way. He is stating that this is the reason or explanation for what He is saying (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). He came and led in this way and this is the pattern to follow and this is the foundation for this teaching about servant leader- ship. This is the contrast between being served as king or ruler and serv- ing others. However, this contrast goes even farther in that it went beyond serving to giving, a giving of Himself to rescue (ransom) others.

The full impact of this teaching from Jesus can only been seen in the repetitions and the intensity of these contrasts along with the implica- tions as He changes the words throughout this teaching. Jesus is the model for leadership here. It is opposite of the normal Gentile path to greatness. It is a path to greatness but a path that includes others and is not over as much as it is among others. Then the path is to become a servant in obedience to God. This is the divine perspective on leadership. Once one becomes a servant that leader is then to serve others and even to give of self to others. The focus changes to giving of self rather than preserving or exalting self. The leader today cannot give self as a ransom for others redemptively like Jesus did. However, this word is not necessar- ily “redemptive” here in this text. Hooker (1999) says that this is not the same word used in the Old Testament as an offering for sin. This concept of ransom is a transaction where one brings another out of bondage (Crowther, 2009). The leader then serves others in helping them in some very profound ways bringing help and freedom to them.

In this text, there are many issues of servant leadership that confirm and possibly expand the theory. This teaching develops servant leader- ship as countercultural and a path toward greatness in leadership among others who are with them. It gives a path of leadership that involves a focus on others, helping them in some profound ways bring freedom to them. It pushes beyond serving though to give of self and it focuses on becoming a servant as well as doing service. This is seen in the contempo- rary model of the virtue theory of servant leadership. However, here it is emphasized. In addition, it moves past helping others to doing it in obe- dience to the Lord and as a result of the call on the life of the leader.

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus


Matthew 28

In Matthew 28, Jesus teaches the disciples how to impart this way of kingdom living to others. Right at the very end of the gospel of Matthew after His resurrection, Jesus makes one final statement to His disciples. In Matthew 28:18–20, Jesus gives a command about how to advance this kingdom message to His disciples just before He leaves and returns to heaven. This final message is significant in that it gives a detailed explana- tion of how to finish the task that Jesus began while he was here on the earth. Matthew offers a direct charge to the disciples of Jesus who will become the movement’s leaders, it involves authority to carry out the mission and it involves disciples making disciples, which along with teaching is the fundamental function of gospel leadership (Agosto, 2005).

In this text is found a progressive texture of inner texture where the message gives a command with multiple components. Then there is argu- mentative texture of inner texture as well wherein the disciples are told what to do in response to the position of Jesus in authority. There are some important words here as well including “commanded” and “end of the age.” These are final words to the new leaders of the movement on how to continue and lead in this Messianic movement.

Jesus begins with a cause and effect argument. He has all authority and it has been given to Him. This is an important point in that the inference is that this authority was given to Him by the Father and further that all authority is God’s authority. If this line of thinking is followed, it means that all authority is derived authority with the exception of God’s author- ity. God is the source of authority and all authority is derived from Him. Possibly, this is the very thing that the devil tried to steal through the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the authority of God. Authority is a major issue in leadership. All authority is from God and it is delegated to others; therefore, authority needs to be used properly as an external gift rather than as a possession. Since this full authority had been given to Jesus, as a result of this or the end of the argument is therefore go. All leadership authority is derived authority. Now Jesus is telling them to use this authority in a certain way, to lead others in becoming disciples. Authority like talents can be misused, but here is instruction on at least one way to properly use authority.

S. Crowther


As the instruction continues, Jesus gives them a practical message that is progressive; it has parts that build on each other. First, the disciples are to go to others and then make disciples of them, help them become a follower of Christ. Second, they are to baptize these new followers indi- cating that they are beginning a new way of life. Finally, these new dis- ciples are to be taught everything Jesus had told them to observe or follow and to teach them about the things that were commanded. Then finally Jesus said He would be with them until the end of the age. How does one make disciples? By going to them, then baptizing them, bringing them into a new way of life, and teaching them. Then Jesus promised His pres- ence with them until the end of the age, the age that we are yet in. This mandate is continuous and continues today.

There are several leadership issues here. First, it can be seen that this lead- ership is focused on others and helping them in an ongoing way. Specific instructions are given as to how to lead another as a disciple and it involves going to them or initiating the service to them. It has ongoing components of focus on the follower in baptizing and teaching them. Then there is the issue of authority. God has all authority and the Father gives it to the Son. The Son then sends the disciples as a result of that authority. Here is seen the proper use of and submission to authority in the doing of leading.

The connection to servant leadership is seen here in this focus on oth- ers. It includes not only a focus on others but also a seeking them out to serve them and an ongoing process of longitudinal service. This confirms servant leadership but it could also expand it in seeking out those to serve and serving them in profound long-term ways. However, there is the issue of authority which appears to be outside of the contemporary model. Is the proper use and response to authority an issue that needs to be included in a model of leadership? The pattern is seen here and Jesus makes a point of pivoting on this issue of authority as the argument for the disciples going and serving in this way. Inherent in this message is the focus on fol- lowers but it is also in pursuit of the mission in making disciples of all the ethnos or people groups on the earth. Where does this focus on mission fit into leadership or into servant leadership? Can servant leaders focus on mission by focusing on followers? This would fit into the third goal of focusing on the organization but does the mission need more central attention? This is a question that needs development in the search for biblical servant leadership.

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus


John 13, John 21

Then in the gospel of John, Jesus models servanthood in washing the feet of the disciples and He teaches them how to become servants to others. In the gospel of John, we find several stories that are distinct from those of  the Synoptic Gospels. These two stories are in this group of stories unique to John. In the first story, Jesus is found with His disciples in the upper room where He takes a moment in the midst of all the different events to wash the feet of the disciples. Here Jesus chooses a servant’s towel to express His leadership and His love to His disciples. In the sec- ond story, Jesus is questioning and instructing Peter on how to lead oth- ers in this new movement.

In John 13:1–17, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and gives them instructions about what He is doing and how they should follow His example. In this story is seen Jesus’ towel of servanthood as the physical symbol of servant leadership, He met the physical and spiritual needs of the followers showing what servant leaders do (Wilkes, 1998). In this pericope, there is an open-middle-closing of inner texture. The opening is in verse 1 when Jesus was considering the moment He was in and that this would be the last supper with His disciples. The middle is the event during the supper of Jesus washing their feet that goes from verse 2 to verse 11. Then in verse 11, Jesus explained about the foot-washing lesson and how they should respond, and this is the closing that continues to the end of this pericope.

In the repetitions of inner texture, there are several words that are used twice—“world,” “loved,” “Father,” “God,” “towel,” and “greater.” One word is used three times—“understand.” Then one concept is used eight times in these verses and that is the concept of washing feet. This is the focal point of the message and Jesus wants them to understand what He is doing and He explains it using the concept of servant. There is also a narrational texture in the middle of this pericope where Peter and Jesus enter a conversation about washing feet. There is thematic contrast here as well. The contrast is between Judas, who is the one betraying Jesus for money and gain, and Jesus, who is becoming the servant to all including Judas the betrayer. Judas is trying to promote himself, while Jesus is press- ing down to become the servant even to the one who is the betrayer.

S. Crowther


The word “loved” is of particular interest here. Jesus expressed this love for them by serving them and providing an example of leading by serv- ing. It says He loved them to the end in verse 1. To the end of what? This seems to be a dangling thought. To the end of His human life? This seems unlikely. In the Greek language, this is the end of some act or state but not a period of time, here in John 13:1 it is to the uttermost or com- pletely (Bushnell, 2001). He loved them to the end of how they can be loved. The NIV translates it this way. He showed them the full extent of His love. The motive here is love the core issue of servant leadership in the virtuous model of the twenty-first century.

The message of Jesus is clearly about showing the disciples the way to lead by serving. He mentioned that He indeed was their Master and teacher yet He washed their feet as an example for them. It was important to Jesus that the disciples saw and understood this truth; He even took special time to explain it to Peter with more details. It was also important that the later readers of Scripture saw that this was done in the context of the betrayal of Judas. Serving is not contingent on worthiness.

Servant leadership is seen here in this text as Jesus is motivated by great love to serve those He is leading, even those that are less than worthy of this love or leadership. This serving is washing their feet that is truly a job for servants. The disciples did not understand however; Jesus took extra measures for them to understand. He was the Master and Lord and their teacher; yet, He was their servant and this is an example that they are to follow in their leadership of others. This is not a theology of foot wash- ing, but it is using this physical, clear example to help them develop a theology of leadership of servant leadership; now blessed are you if you do this and lead as a servant. This is a clear example of Jesus teaching and modeling servant leadership that reinforces the concepts as found in the contemporary model of servant leadership.

In John 21, the disciples have gone fishing after the resurrection of Christ. In this short pericope from verse 15 to verse 18, Jesus is having a very direct discussion with Peter. Peter and Jesus and some of the other disciples had just finished breakfast yet Jesus wanted to talk to Peter about love and leadership. There are several questions and words that are repeated in this section as part of inner texture. Then some of the words are changed slightly though they have similar meanings.

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus


Jesus asks the same question three times with slight variations about Peter’s love for him. The first time He asks Peter do you love me more than these. There is great speculation about the meaning of this reference to these. Possibly the fish or fishing but He is comparing Peter’s love for Jesus with something else. Peter responds that he does love Jesus more than these. Then Jesus gives him instructions about His sheep (people) once Peter declares his love. The instruction that Peter is receiving depends on his love, it is a love issue and a motive issue. He then tells Peter to feed His lambs or little ones, young ones. In the process of this interaction, Jesus changes the instructions slightly each time. Jesus charges Peter to feed (boske) the sheep and the lambs and to shepherd (pomaine) the sheep (Maloney, 1998).

The second question is simply the question of Peter’s love for Jesus and Peter again answers in the affirmative. This time Peter is told to shepherd the sheep. Then the same question is asked a third time with some varia- tion in the Greek wording but the same question. This time Peter is dis- turbed and he expresses this dismay but Jesus simply tells him this time to feed His sheep.

There are several important issues here. First is seen that love is con- nected to leadership. Then it becomes apparent that Jesus is giving spe- cific instructions about this leadership for the young and for the mature people of God. The leader is to feed the people. There are many examples of how shepherds feed the sheep or lambs. They do not feed them like you would feed a child, but they help them find places that are good and protect them while they are there. This concept of shepherd would be in the area of intertexture of Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation. Intertexture is the text’s representation of and use of phenomena in the world outside of the text and the interaction with issues like historical issues, other texts, roles, or institutions (Robbins, 1996). Here, the text interacts with something known by all in this time period and that is a shepherd. Especially Jews were familiar with this comparison since the Old Testament already used this picture of a shepherd of sheep as a leader on many different levels including prophets, kings, and elders. The best of the human kings was David, but he was associated with a different term for leader—that of “shepherd”—and this was a term used by God for the sort of leader that David was to become and it was also used for leaders

S. Crowther


in the tribes of Israel (Burns, Shoup, & Simmons, 2014). Then the leader is also to shepherd or to tend to the sheep. This has the sense of caring for them.

The leader is to lead motivated by love according to Jesus. However, here in this text, it is love for Jesus not for the sheep or people. Is this transferred to the sheep in some way or is this a place for the expansion of servant leadership? It must be noted though that these shepherds had a very special attachment to the sheep (Burns et al., 2014). Possibly, this is an unspoken understanding between Peter and Jesus and the original readers. Nevertheless, it still remains that the focus of this text is love for Jesus. Peter as a leader is to feed, to bring help and protection to the people of God and he is to care for them. The leader is to be shepherd in the pattern of the Old Testament shepherds who were sent by God to lead on different levels but to lead by guiding and caring. This fits well with contemporary servant leadership. However, the one area that may need further research is this concept of a leader feeding the followers. This is an analogy or a picture and it implies leading from behind through relationship not as a director or driver. Shepherds like these and like Jesus were willing to give their lives for the sheep; by precept and example, Jesus taught servant leadership (Johnston, 2014). The shepherds were servants in connection to the sheep. Nevertheless, this concept of shep- herd includes the concept of guiding and protecting. Are these part of a biblical servant leadership and if so do they fit the existing model? Protecting may well fit the model but further research is needed for the guiding aspect as found in the shepherd analogy.

Luke 7

In Luke, Jesus uses the leadership of a military leader of Rome to provide an example of how to lead. In Luke 7:1–10, Jesus is in Capernaum speak- ing to the crowds when someone comes to appeal for His help, which begins this story. In this text is found a narrational texture of the voices of Jesus and the centurion. Narrational texture resides in the voices in which the words of the text speak through a narrator or attributed speech (Robbins, 1996). There is also repetition in the inner texture of the words

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus


of centurion and servant. This is a story about the centurion and his ser- vant with interaction from Jesus. The core of the message is in Jesus’ amazement in the way that the centurion responds to Jesus about his servant. This statement that Jesus was amazed could be properly trans- lated as to wonder or even to admire (Friberg & Friberg, 1994).

Jesus is on His way to the centurion’s house to heal his servant. The centurion is a Gentile, yet Jesus responds to this invitation. On the way a messenger comes from the centurion with a message for Jesus. This is the core issue captured in this narrational texture of this text. The message is straightforward in that Jesus does not need to come all the way to the house, He can just say the word and the servant will be healed. This is amazing enough that a Gentile understood the issues of divine power through Jesus. It does not stop here though; the message continues as the centurion is speaking to Jesus through the messenger. The centurion even declares that he knows why this will work. He declares to Jesus that he is a man under authority and therefore he has authority. He knows that since Jesus is under authority to the Father He has authority even over diseases and this authority is not hindered by spatial distance. What an incredible revelation from this Gentile centurion! Even the spiritual Israelites did not understand this concept. Jesus stops. He was amazed and wondered at this centurion that could make this statement; maybe he even admired him. Then He speaks directly to the crowd saying that He had not seen such great faith even in Israel. What was this? Was this only an issue of faith in a spiritual sense? Jesus was endorsing this man’s faith and his statements about authority. This man was a leader in the military. Somehow he understood authority and he was able to translate this knowledge and apply it to the healing of his servant. He was under authority; therefore, he had authority, and this authority gave him power. Clearly, Jesus was amazed at his faith for healing. However, he endorsed this man and this man had a simple message but it is also a leadership message. Α leader must be under authority and then this leader will be able to use authority but it is also an issue of faith.

Does biblical leadership include an understanding of authority in being under authority and using authority properly? This is an important question in that the Scriptures have much to say about authority both divine and human. The theological roots of any biblical understanding of

S. Crowther


leadership must grow in the soil of God’s authority; this authority though can be delegated to humans (Burns et al., 2014). Authority is an impor- tant issue and it is seen in coming to the surface here in this text but it rises to the surface in other texts as well. However, this brings a question to the forefront. Is the Bible too complex and too focused on other issues that it makes it difficult to develop a model of biblical leadership and only disparate concepts for leadership can be developed? There are some who would agree that only concepts could be found. Like Burns et al. (2014) who say that it is difficult or impossible to identify a single biblical model of leadership, at least in the way we conceive of a model, since there are so many biblical examples. This is difficult but it must be kept in mind that the jury is still out. We have yet to examine all of the exam- ples and directives and endorsements of leadership in Scripture. In addi- tion, this must be done carefully not accepting every biblical leader as an example. Even Moses had some bad qualities that need not be repeated and endorsed. Then there are Scriptures that give specific instructions and give clear examples of leaders to follow like Jesus who is the chief shepherd. This is complex and difficult and highly nuanced but it is worth the pursuit and the process.

Jesus as the Example of Servant Leadership

1 Peter 2

This example of Jesus as a servant leader is explained by both Peter and Paul. Peter connects Jesus’ leadership to that of the suffering servant in Isaiah 52. In 1 Peter 2:21–25, the author is speaking about suffering for Christ. He changes the focus from the follower to Christ Himself saying that He left us an example that we would follow in His steps. The material here is drawn from Isaiah’s portrait of the suffering servant to show Christ as this suffering servant as an example for the believer to follow (Elliot, 2000).

The prominent word here is “suffering” but the recurring theme is Christ seen in the words of “Christ” but then also referring back to Him with the pronouns “he” or “him.” This occurs nine times in this short passage. Then the image of sheep and shepherd reappears here as well. He is the example

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus


in suffering but could He be the example in leadership as well? We know from other texts that this is true. However, is it implied here? The word in this text refers to the exact pattern of alphabetic letters which children traced so they could learn their letters (Witherington, 2007). The context is discussing the believer following Jesus and following closely, and sud- denly it changes to straying sheep and Jesus being the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. Christ is held as the example here in suffering, and in leadership, the believer is to follow very close, and this example includes leading as a shepherd, caring for followers, and as an overseer who guides the followers (Crowther, 2013). In this text is seen Jesus setting the exam- ple for others to follow in suffering for others and as a shepherd leader who cares for the sheep. This confirms  the issue of servant leadership  but it brings the question to front again about this image of shepherd as leader. Is a shepherd leader a servant leader or is there more to this image? Then there is the question of guiding again in the image of overseer. This is the same word that is translated as “bishop” in other contexts. This text confirms and possibly expands the model of servant leadership.

Phil 2

Paul explains the leadership of Jesus as a digression to servanthood and a progression to glory. Paul then exhorts the believers to follow this example in living and in leading. This section in Philippians 2:5–11 is written as a hymn. Within the social and cultural context of first-cen- tury Philippi the consensus is that this hymn was written as a religious response to the tyranny of Roman leadership, this text in Philippians devel- ops an alternative exemplary model for leadership (Bekker, 2006). The text begins with an exhortation to the believer to have this same attitude as Christ. Notice here that this is not just talking about behavior; it is going deeper to areas of motive. Jesus Christ is being held up as the example of a different form of leadership that ultimately results in glory to God instead of glory to the leader. This Philippian hymn challenged the principles of shame and honor of Roman society offering an alterna- tive set of values in contrast to those of the dominant culture offering an alternative vision of service- oriented leadership rooted in humility and common mutuality (Bekker, 2006).

S. Crowther


In the text of 2:5–11 of Philippians is found several issues of the tex- tures of Scripture. An important texture to observe here is the progressive texture of the digression and progression of Christ. In the midst of this texture there is a chiasm as well. Then there are some key words that need attention and some clear contrasts. There is more but this will suffice for this study for the moment. There are also several repetitions of inner tex- ture. The prominent words are “God” four times and “Christ” or refer- ences to Him seven times and the word “form” three times. This text focuses on Jesus and His submission to God in humility and then God exalts Him. He humbled Himself by taking on a human form.

The progressive texture is found in this intentional self-humbling of Christ in the steps He took to the cross and then the progression of God exalting Him. It has the form of a downward direction in humility to the obedience of the cross then it turns upward as God exalts Him. First in verse 6, He was in the form of God but did not count this as something to be grasped. This word “form” means the appearance and the nature of something (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). Christ did not grasp this equality. Second, Christ emptied Himself. This word “kenosis” is the concept of self-emptying of one’s will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s will and Jesus Christ is the example of this process (Danley, 2009). He does not cease from divinity but He does not grasp it and in this He sets the example for others. Third, he takes the form of a servant. This is the appearance and the nature of a servant. Fourth, He takes on human form. He takes on human likeness and experiences life from the human place in the universe. He is not just a servant but He is divine and puts on the nature not only of a servant but of a human servant. Fifth, He humbled Himself. This is an action that he took—it was self-humbling, it was not an external need, it was an internal decision. Remember the exhortation here is not to understand the theology of Christ, but it is to adopt this same attitude and way of living and even leading as Christ did here. This call to humility includes the voluntary rejection of symbols and systems of power including prestige and privilege (Bekker, 2006). Sixth is His obedience even to the point of death on the cross. This is obedience to God and His purpose for His life in fulfilling the goal of submission to God. This is radical obedience in spite of the results.

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus


This progressive texture takes a sudden turn with the word “therefore” in verse 9. What is getting ready to happen is a turn upward and it is no longer driven by Jesus but now this is done to Jesus by God. These actions to come are based upon the previous actions of Christ. First, God highly exalted Him. Those that humble themselves will be exalted by God in due time (1 Peter 5:6). Second, God exalted His name above every name and every tongue will confess. Jesus was vindicated as the one who is True and Right though He was rejected and crucified. In the book of Revelation, believers who overcome are given a new name (Revelation 2:17). This is a special gift to those who have overcome in heaven. Third, and finally, this ultimately is for the glory of God. Remember this attitude is to be in the leaders of Philippi and in believers today. There are six steps in the down- ward progression and three in the upward progression as seen in Table 5.2.

This way of thinking is to become the way or the attitude of the believer and the leader in contradistinction to the leadership way of the current cul- ture. In this way, it is a countercultural model for leadership. Social and cul- tural texture of Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation in the area of final categories deals with seeing the context of the text and whether it is from a dominant or subculture or countercultural or other cultural viewpoint (Robbins, 1996). In the social and cultural texture of this text, it is seen to be countercultural forming an alternate way of life from the dominant culture.

In the text, leadership is seen in a servant model with many compo- nents of the servant leadership model. These include not grasping at identity and power but becoming a servant not just serving and humility. However, in some ways this moves beyond or even deepens the concepts of servant leadership. These concepts of self-emptying and obedience may seem radical and even that of identifying with other humans moving past sympathy to empathy may seem like too much. Nevertheless, this is

Table 5.2 The progression of the life of Christ

Downward progression Therefore Upward progression

Did not grasp Change from self to God Highly exalted him Self-emptying Name and vindication Servant form Glory to God Human form Humility Obedience

S. Crowther


the exhortation of Paul in following the servant leadership example of Christ. Can servant leadership be expanded to include these components? These are internal issues and can be part of a virtues theory. How can that be done though in this contemporary context? Then there is the upside of the progression that God does in exalting, vindicating, and receiving glory. There is no doubt that Scripture clearly teaches that those who humble themselves will be exalted by God. Will God vindicate us and give us a new name, a new reputation? This is also possible but remember it is God who does this not the leader. Finally, it is seen that this is to the glory of God. What does leadership have to do with the glory of God? The goal of leadership is to accomplish the mission but the ultimate goal is to bring glory to God. In this text, the end result or the telos of this process is glory to God.


Many different texts have been explored with various results and concepts to consider for leadership. Many of them confirm the contemporary virtu- ous model of servant leadership. However, there are a few areas that expand or even critique this model. It is found that Jesus’ teachings and example exude servant leadership concepts. However, there were a few areas found that move beyond servant leadership. Some of these areas include the issue of the proper use of authority and the concept of shepherd leadership. Are these concepts already in this model in some way or are they needed to expand the model for it to be biblical servant leadership? There is more though in that there are concepts of giving of or emptying self. In addi- tion, there is the issue of a mission focus and whether that is inherent in the model or if this concept critiques or expands the model. Finally, there is a deep expression of servant leadership in Philippians 2. Does this depth match or expand the modern theory of servant leadership? Then there is the issue of the teleology of leadership concerning the glory of God. Does this purpose of bringing glory to God need to be addressed in the model of leadership? There are many questions to be addressed. Many of these will be addressed in later chapters as we continue to search for answers concerning biblical leadership.

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus



Agosto, E. (2005). Servant Leadership: Jesus & Paul. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press.

Althaus, P. (1966). The Theology of Martin Luther. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Bauer, D. R., & Traina, R. A. (2014). Inductive Bible Study: A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Bekker, C.  J. (2006). The Philippians Hymn (2:5–11) as an Early Mimetic Christological Model of Christian Leadership in Roman Philippi. Paper pre- sented at the Servant Leadership Research Roundtable.

Burns, J., Shoup, J., & Simmons, D. (Eds.). (2014). Organizational Leadership: Foundations and Practices for Christians. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Bushnell, M. S. (2001). Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Complete and Unabridged. Being C.  G. Grimm (1861–1868; 1879) and C.  L. W.  Wilke (1851) Clavis Novi Testamenti Translated, Revised, and Enlarged, by Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D., Hon. Litt.D., Professor of New Testament, Divinity School of Harvard University, 1889. Electronic Edition Generated and Owned by International Bible Translators (IBT), Inc., 1998–2000. Greek Formatting Modifications (Such as Adding Diacritical Accents) and Improvements Made by Michael S. Bushell, 2001.

Crowther, S. S. (2009). The Spirit of Service: Reexamining Servant Leadership in the Gospel of Mark. Inner Resources for Leaders, 1(3), 1–7.

Crowther, S. S. (2013). Peter on Leadership: A Contemporary Exegetical Analysis. Fayetteville, NC: Ontos Zoe Publishing.

Danley, D. A. (2009). Toward an Understanding of the Kenosis of Christ: A Proposed a Priori Constituent to Transformative Leadership Traits in Philippians 2:5–11 (Doctoral dissertation). Dissertation Abstracts International: SectionA, 71(11). (UMI No. 3425736).

De Silva, D. (2004). An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Elliot, J. H. (2000). The Anchor Bible: I Peter. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Friberg, T., & Friberg, B. (1994). Analytical Greek New Testament (GNM) (2nd ed.). n.p.: Timothy and Barbara Friberg.

Hooker, M. (1999). The Gospel According to Saint Mark: Black’s New Testament Commentary. London: A & C Black Publishers Ltd.

S. Crowther


Johnston, R. M. (2014). The Gospels. In S. Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 147–162). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Maloney, F.  J. (1998). The Gospel of John. In D.  J. Harrington (Ed.), Sacra Pagina (Vol. 4). Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.

Robbins, V. K. (1996). Exploring the Texture of Texts: A Guide to Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

Wilkes, C.  G. (1998). Jesus on Leadership: Discovering the Secrets of Servant Leadership from the Life of Christ. Lifeway Press: London.

Witherington, B. (2007). Letter and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio- Rhetorical Commentary on 1–2 Peter. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Young, H.  L. (2009). A Primer for Servant Leadership: Leading in the Right Direction. BookSurge.

Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus

97© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7_6

6 Leadership in the New Testament

After the ministry of Jesus, the church continues this ministry of ser- vant leadership in many different settings. These settings involve differ- ent people in different leadership situations and there are many examples as well as directives. The question is whether all of the examples are examples of servant leadership. Then there are also specific instructions for leaders from other leaders like Paul, Peter, James, and John. In the quest for biblical servant leadership, these different avenues will be explored looking for insights for leadership as well as confirmation, expansion, or critique of servant leadership. Do these different teach- ings and examples align with each other or are they diverse models and instructions? Could there be some diversity here? Is there another model of leadership that is biblical other than servant leadership and if so what is it? Burns, Shoup, and Simmons (2014) find transformational leadership in the texts of Scripture. Is there more than one model here or is there a new way to do an expanded model? In looking at these texts these issues will be explored.


Servant Leadership in the Book of Acts


Barnabas is the leader with the recognition and title needed for leadership in the church; but when he sees Paul rise as the leader, he allows Paul to take the lead. Barnabas is introduced in Acts 4:36–37 where he gives of his resources to the church in the time of need to provide for other people. Barnabas is a movement leader with possessions willing to give them up for the cause (Agosto, 2005). It can be seen from this same text that his name means son of encouragement or consolation. He had such an impact on people that they renamed him to declare his attributes. He was a comforter and a giver. This act is mentioned as a summary of the quality of life in the Christian community and this makes Barnabas in the eyes of the reader, an example of charity (Sauvagnat, 2014). In Acts 9:27, Barnabas becomes the advocate for Saul who had persecuted the church but now converted. He was the first in Jerusalem to embrace Saul who would become Paul. In Acts 11:22–26, Barnabas is sent by the Jerusalem leaders to Antioch since there was a new growing church move- ment there that included Gentiles. Their explanation for sending him was that he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit. This word “good” speaks of good moral character (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). He was a man of character and a spiritual man. Then once he arrives in Antioch, he goes to find Saul who had returned to his hometown of Tarsus. Then for a whole year Saul and Barnabas led these new believers in Antioch. Luke presents Barnabas as  a transformed man, a man of godly character (Sauvagnat, 2014). Barnabas went to find help and had the humility to know that this ministry was bigger than he could do or handle.

In Acts 13 and 14, Barnabas is seen with Paul and sent with Paul to the work of taking the gospel to other places. Barnabas appears to be the lead partner of the team until Cyprus. Here Saul’s name is changed to Paul and from here on Paul is mentioned first and is the primary speaker of the group yet Barnabas continues with the group but as secondary to Paul. In Acts 15, Barnabas is in the Jerusalem council, and he and Paul together defend the gospel going to the Gentiles by recounting the miracles that God had done through them among the Gentiles. Finally there was a

S. Crowther


division between Paul and Barnabas over whether to take a team member who had already failed once. Paul did not want to take John Mark again but Barnabas did, so they parted ways and Barnabas went with Mark and Paul took Silas. Barnabas recruited and trained Paul, the great apostle, and Mark, the writer of the gospel with his name, and Barnabas demon- strates the principle of empowering others (Sauvagnat, 2014).

Barnabas is a morally good man with godly character, and this is what qualified him for his early leadership assignments. He has the humility to help and develop and encourage others even when they surpass him in leadership. He was willing to take a chance on those others had rejected. His was a leader of empowering others even when he did not receive the glory for it. Barnabas would be a good role model for a servant leader.


Aeneas also intersects with Paul’s life, and though he is afraid of Paul, he still serves him and brings him revelation of the new things of the Kingdom of God. Aeneas is seen in only one text in Acts  9  in verses 10–19. He is an important person for Paul, which makes him an impor- tant person to those of us who read the New Testament. First, Aeneas receives a vision from the Lord where he is instructed to go and minister to the great persecutor of the church. He resisted but the Lord insisted and he decided to go and minister to Paul. Once there with Paul, he prays for Paul’s eyes and they get healed then Paul gets baptized. This is it. We do not see Aeneas again but he is a pivotal figure for the life of Paul. He is seen here serving one person at great risk to himself. He was concerned that Saul may still be persecuting the church, which would have meant imprisonment or possible death to Aeneas. Nevertheless, he went. Servant leaders can serve the one or the many; the point is serving and Aeneas is here doing this serving at great risk to himself. He was a servant leader in that he led Saul into the things of the Lord and brought him baptism and healing. Some servant leaders will become well known like Barnabas, while others may never be known as to who they are or what they have done, like Aeneas. This story of Aeneas would not have been known had not Luke and the Holy Spirit decided to put this event in the Book of Acts.

Leadership in the New Testament


It adds value to the story in connecting the before and after Saul. It also has value for the reader to see behind the scenes and see some of the unsung servant leaders.

Priscilla and Aquila

This couple shows up on the scene in the Book of Acts as tentmakers in the same profession as Paul. They quickly become valuable leaders in the movement as they serve some of the teachers of the movement, such as Apollos. Paul meets Aquila and Priscilla, a husband and wife who are believers in Corinth in Acts 18. They were from Rome but left under the command of Caesar for all Jews to leave. When Paul left Corinth for Asia, they went with him; only now they were known as Priscilla and Aquila. There appears to be a role reversal here in the lead of this marriage team. They came to Ephesus but Paul left for Antioch and left Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus. Apollos came to Ephesus preaching eloquently about Jesus. However, he only knew part of the story. Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and explained to him the rest of the story. Apollos goes on to become a valuable leader for the church. Priscilla and Aquila serve others beginning with Paul with whom they share tent-making as a profession. They even travel with him. Once Apollos comes on the scene, they instruct him in a more perfect way in the understanding of the gospel and afterwards he becomes a great leader and speaker. This couple serves in the background as an example of servant leaders to help other leaders, to serve these other leaders so they can fulfill their call to leadership.

Peter as the Servant Leader

Then finally, Peter evolves from the self-focused forceful leader to the servant leader in the author of the epistles of Peter, where he calls himself a fellow elder rather than the one in charge as he did in the past. In 1 Peter, a different Peter is seen than the one who was always first to speak with mixed results in the gospels. The story of Peter is a case study in transformation in his shift from a community disrupter to a community

S. Crowther


facilitator; he changed from a stumbling block to a building block (Tilstra, 2014). In 1 Peter 5, he begins to talk to the leaders as a fellow equal elder and he gives instructions to them in three contrasting state- ments while encouraging them to remember that as shepherds they will receive reward from the chief shepherd. He is pointing away from himself as the source of authority and leadership. In addition, there are several repetitions of inner texture in this section from verse 1 through verse 7. The repetitions include “elder,” “glory,” “shepherd,” “flock,” “humility,” and “God.” The focus here is on the concept of shepherd and their func- tion with the flock, the followers. Then there is a focus on two seemingly opposite concepts of humility and glory.

The exhortation that begins the three sets of contrasts starts with the verb shepherd as a command. This is the mandate for these leaders to actively shepherd the flock or the people of God. This picture of shepherd leader looks back to the Old Testament where King David and other leaders in Israel are called shepherds. It is a picture of how to lead. It is also in imitation of the first Shepherd leader, the Lord Himself. Psalm 23:1 says the Lord is my shepherd and it goes on to describe the Lord’s leadership to the psalmist as a shepherd. Leaders are to imitate God’s leadership. The concept of shepherd as leader is traditional and it is applied to God and His leadership style as well as to various human lead- ers in the Old Testament (Witherington, 2007a). Then in the New Testament Jesus calls Himself the good shepherd in John 10. Leaders in the church are called shepherds, and as seen here, Jesus is called the chief shepherd. Jesus is following the Old Testament pattern of a shepherd leader where He sets the example for other leaders to follow and they set the example and pattern for others as Peter is doing here.

What does this shepherd leadership look like according to Peter? In this epistle, Peter is functioning as a wise pastor advising church leaders and he reflects the principles he learned under Jesus’ mentorship and he is passing on what he learned to this next generation of leaders (Tilstra, 2014). Peter is the one who probably spent the most time with Jesus while He was on earth receiving instruction about leadership, though many times in the form of a rebuke or correction. Leaders today would be wise to heed his counsel.

Leadership in the New Testament


Here in this section is a progressive texture where Peter gives three contrasts to help the leaders clearly understand how to lead. The first contrast is found in verse two. They are to shepherd by exercising over- sight but not to do it under compulsion but willingly. This is speaking of the motive of the leader that the leader would shepherd not out of duty or duress but freely, openly with a good heart and attitude. The second contrast is lead with passion and zeal not for shameful gain, not just to make more money. Then the third gets to the heart of the matter. Do not lead by domineering others but be examples to them. Lead by being the role model as Jesus was for us and He still is as the chief shepherd. Table 6.1 shows these contrasts.

There is a reward and this reward is a crown of glory, Peter says he is going to participate in this glory as well. There is a reward for leading well; it is glory. Is this glory only for eternity or is there some aspect of this glory here on earth? The glory is a reward for those who lead well. One way that this word for “glory” can be translated is “honor.” Will leaders who lead well eventually receive honor for leading this way. We are told by Paul to honor our leaders and to give double honor to those that lead well (1 Timothy 5:17). Leading well will bring honor in eternity but it can also bring honor here as well.

Then Peter changes the discussion to include all not just the elders, but it includes these elders. He then speaks of the crowning ingredient for leaders and followers, that of humility. Peter even explains why this is so important. It is because God gives grace—help and power—to the hum- ble. In fact, this is so important that he explains how the person can humble themselves under God’s hand. God helps with humility espe- cially in difficult circumstances. Then the person, the leader, will be exalted if they walk in humility. It is important to understand humility. From the rich history of humility thought, humility is defined as a per- sonal orientation founded on the willingness to see the self accurately and

Table 6.1 Contrasts for shepherd leaders

Shepherd By exercising oversight Willingly Not Under compulsion With zeal (eagerly) Not For gain Example Not Domineering

S. Crowther


a propensity to put oneself in perspective; it involves neither self- abasement nor overly positive self-regard (Morris, Brotheridge, & Urbanski, 2005). It is not a low opinion of self but it is an accurate assess- ment, and in this place the leader sees the talents of others and the need for others as well.

Peter describes the shepherd leader as one who follows the chief shep- herd and leads willingly, without a profit or gain mentality and as one who is not domineering. The essential quality is that of humility. He tells them to put on humility like clothing. It is not so much that it is external as it identifies who one is; it is the way one interacts with others based upon what has happened to the leader, as the leader has developed humil- ity under God’s hand, so it becomes apparent in all that the leader does in life and leadership. It is the most prominent thing others see in lead- ers—like clothing. These concepts confirm servant leadership but they also add new depth and nuance to the thinking about servant leader- ship in pressing deeply into the motives of the leader. Humility and being the example are clearly servant leadership issues but there is more here for consideration that will be examined later in this study.

Instructions to Leaders

These instructions use this same picture of shepherd as seen in the Old Testament but now a further picture is added for contrast in the picture of a wolf and a lion. Servant leadership is taught in many different ways through the epistles of the New Testament as authored by Paul, James, and John. Paul talks about how wolves will come after the sheep once he is gone, in Acts 20. These wolves are false leaders. They lead for them- selves and their own glory and appetites. According to Paul, in Acts 20:28–30, these wolves are leaders who will speak twisted things; actu- ally, they will twist words to draw people after themselves. These are the antileaders who lead for their own glory and benefit. There are other analogies like this in the New Testament. One is the image of a lion, the arch enemy of sheep and shepherds in the natural realm. However, this picture is used as a spiritual analogy in 1 Peter 5 where the last section finished about sheep and shepherds.

Leadership in the New Testament


In 1 Peter 5:8–11, the lion is a symbol of the devil who opposes the people. He tries to devour them with grief. The way this is seen in the world is through trouble and persecution. The elders to whom Peter spoke would understand this analogy of the lion and the shepherd and the sheep. They knew it was the shepherd’s job to protect the sheep in this situation. However, to do so, they had to win the battle themselves. Sheep cannot fight lions; only a shepherd can, and if the shepherd fails all is lost for the sheep. The term that Peter uses here is the lion seeks to “devour.” This term means to drink down and it is a picture of the destruction of the person (Davids, 1990).

In this short section, there are four repeated words from the inner tex- ture of the pericope. These repeated words are “suffer,” “firm,” “God,” and “grace.” The issue here is suffering it as if a lion comes against the sheep, and it comes in the form of suffering. The answer is to resist him, the lion, by being firm. It does not say resist the suffering but resist the destruction that can come from suffering. People suffer in all kinds of ways and the ten- dency is to lose heart and become discouraged, to lose courage for life and mission. In Romans 5:1–5, Paul addresses this same issue but without the metaphor of the lion. He says we rejoice in sufferings. But the question to Paulis why should we rejoice in sufferings? Suffering produces persever- ance according to Paul here in Romans. Now suffering can produce perse- verance or if one responds incorrectly it produces the opposite—a lack of courage and bitterness. However, once it produces perseverance, this perse- verance produces character and character, hope. So, the believer gets char- acter development, which is part of the process of knowing God and it is important for effective, ethical leadership as well. How is the lion resisted? He is resisted by being firm in rejoicing and perseverance. Then once this happens (unknown time lapse inserted here) then God will restore, con- firm, strengthen, and establish the person. These are similar words, but basically this person will not only be restored from discouragement but will also grow as a person and develop character. The leader must learn to win this battle first so that she/he can lead others through this same process. Here, the leader goes first to set the example and the pattern.

In servant leadership, there is the need for good character since it is a virtuous theory and virtues proceed from the person. This is an important component here. Possibly, in this text a way to help leaders develop

S. Crowther


character has been found. The way is not to add suffering to their lives. Instead, it is to teach them how to deal with present and future suffering then helping them redefine or live in a new way concerning their suffer- ings of the past. What happens when we are set free from troubles and pains and bruises of the past? New freedom, new power, and new vision happen and maybe even new motivations. Could dealing well with suf- fering become part of the training ground for leading, especially leading with a virtuous model of leadership? It is worth consideration and even inclusion in the foundation of a model of leadership.

Servant Leadership in the Epistles

Romans and Corinthians

The Roman and Corinthian correspondences give instructions for leaders both directly and indirectly about humility and the leader overcoming self-focus. Integral to Paul’s concept of leadership were spiritual gifts that are discussed in Romans and Corinthians as well as in the Prison epistles, and this became Paul’s way of describing how grace collectively operates in the community and this was central to Paul’s thinking since he did not want grace to remain a mere doctrine but that it also functioned as a concrete reality for everyone (Choi, 2014). Here, grace functions as the divine gifting for the believer for different gifts for effective leadership. Gifts are the pieces of grace given to believers and to leaders. These are divine helps of grace or power from God to do the will of God. Christian leaders are empowered by God through grace to accomplish divine pur- pose. Yet it is not just here that Paul discusses leadership in connection to divine empowerment.

An important issue for Paul is that of character and even the develop- ment of character. In Romans, Paul connects suffering to perseverance and character. For Paul, character was not defined in human terms, such as personal traits, but entirely in relation to God, it was not from human nature but it was a gift from God given by the Spirit and it was measured by the image of Christ not a human measurement, yet it is in weakness and brokenness that we find the Christian leader, especially Paul presenting

Leadership in the New Testament


himself (Choi, 2014). There is an emphasis in these letters of gifting from God, yet a focus on character and character development through the process of weakness and even brokenness. The letters are literary windows into Paul’s leadership where he goes to considerable lengths to demon- strate his leadership over these congregations and he defends his right to exercise leadership since these churches were founded by him and his coworkers or in the case of the Roman churches because he needs them for his mission to the Gentiles (Agosto, 2005). In these contexts, many different aspects of Paul’s leadership are seen and explained sometimes directly and other times by implication. In these epistles, he explains con- cepts of leadership as he addresses the issues at hand in the churches. The question is how these aspects of Pauline leadership interact with the con- cepts of servant leadership.

Paul begins his Roman correspondence by positioning himself first as a servant of Christ but then he moves to his calling as an apostle or one sent on a mission and who had been set apart for a purpose. This calling was important in that it was the foundation from which he preached the good news and led the churches. Paul had not planted this church in Rome as he had many of the others that he led. Nevertheless, he estab- lished himself as a leader in this church based upon his calling to be an apostle. Here, the word “apostle” is a noun speaking of not just the posi- tion but also of the person. This call to be an apostle, a leader in the church, is not self-imposed but is a directive from the Lord and yet it is more than a position. Leadership begins in the mind of God as a gracious inclusion of humanity into the plans of God and yet God chooses people who do not seem to be the most qualified, perhaps because God consid- ers calling as a continuous aspect of creation (Willimon, 2002). This call- ing to be an apostle was important to Paul not just in how he functioned but also in who he was as a person. God worked in him to establish His mission and gave him authority as a delegate to lead. The calling to lead is ontological in that it is not only a call to do but it is also a call to become someone more through internal development in the soul.

Then, toward the end of chapter 1 of Romans, Paul discusses how he is to lead the Roman believers in verses 8 through 15. This is a progressive texture in this pericope. He begins with “first” implying an ordered list with certain priorities in leading them. His first priority was to thank

S. Crowther


God for them and for their faith. His focus was on the Romans and their connection to God. He encouraged them in their faith and how they had been faithful. His first step into leading the Romans was bringing a word of encouragement and yet that he was praying for them to continue in doing well. Then in the second place he wanted to see them to impart something to them so they would be strengthened. However, this was not to be a one-way connection from leader to follower in that Paul wanted it to be a mutual connection. Paul would impart to them but there would also be an impartation from them to Paul in the realm of encouragement. Here is seen an aspect of leader-follower connections that are more than top-down directives. In fact, these are not directives at all. These are growth connections for leader and follower. Third, Paul reveals how his calling is connected to the Roman church. In one sense, he is obligated to them as a result of His calling however; he is eager and willing to bring good news to them. This is paradoxical in that obligation and willing are seen as part of the same process. Usually, a person is considered to do something out of obligation or desire but here both are seen together. Paul is supposed to lead them but he leads by a much deeper desire than obligation. He is not only willing but eager, almost zealous about leading them.

Several concepts of leadership are found here in this interaction con- cerning Paul and his leadership for the Roman church. Paul’s highest priority in leading them is to focus on them and bring encouragement to them. This leadership is follower centered. Paul then moves on to impart something to them, to serve them by equipping them for their spiritual lives. However, he stops here to include them as part of the process of leading and impartation in that he is to receive encouragement from them. There is a certain leadership reciprocity here. Finally, he connects his leadership to them to his calling. He is called to lead yet he leads them eagerly. This has to do with motive and why he leads them. Motive mat- ters in leadership. His motive is his connection to and directive from the Lord but it is also in eagerness to serve them, the Roman Christians.

Returning to the concept of the internal issues of the leader, it is appar- ent that these issues like godly character must be developed. However, the immediate question comes to the forefront of how one develops internal issues of the soul. Behavioral issues are more easily developed like le arning

Leadership in the New Testament


how to encourage others, but by themselves these external developments are not enough. Paul speaks directly to this issue in Romans 5:1–5.

Romans 5:1–4 begins with an argumentative texture with a modified form of the “if, then” argument. It begins with a since statement in that it has gone past “if ” or guessing to a place of surety. Since the believer has been justified by faith then that person has peace with God. The condi- tion has already been met of justification which brings peace. The result is now that the believer can rejoice in the present and coming glory of God. However, the purpose of the argument does not stop here. Paul goes on to contrast rejoicing in the glory of God and rejoicing in tribula- tion or trouble. The trouble with tribulation is that so many times it is totally misunderstood. Luther called this the hiddenness of God in that God many times hides Himself under opposites (Althaus, 1966). This paradox is the key to the development of godly character.

It is here that a progressive texture begins in this pericope. It begins with a simple statement that believers rejoice in sufferings or tribulation or pressures. Nevertheless, the first thought is to question that simple statement. As believers, is this what is actually done—rejoice in suffer- ing? At first glance, this seems contradictory. However, in light of the rest of the progression, it becomes clear as to the intent and the purpose of the rejoicing. Following Paul’s tight logic here through the progres- sion gives insight for character development and even the source of love, which are both important qualities for biblical and servant leadership. It begins with rejoicing or even boasting in tribulation or suffering that comes from all kinds of situations. The reason for this rejoicing is that suffering produces perseverance. Paul says that suffering brings about perseverance (Romans 5:3). But how does it bring it about? There are several ways that a person can respond to suffering; but at the two ends of the spectrum of responses, there are two opposite possibilities. The first is bitterness. The book of Hebrews redefines suffering hardship as discipline from the Lord and in the exhortation in Hebrews 12:15  in responding to suffering it says that no one should come short of the grace of God and allow a root of bitterness to spring up. Many people respond to suffering through becoming bitter against God, life, a per- son, or people in general. Yet, the opposite and the way for grace is in perseverance. This may take some divine help in the soul but this is the

S. Crowther


place of grace. When the person responds to suffering with perseverance, character is produced. Character is the inner form that makes anyone or anything what it is—the essential “stuff” of the person, the inner real- ity—character determines behavior and behavior demonstrates charac- ter—it is deeper than philosophies (Guinness, 2003). This is not just character it is tried and approved character. Godly character is devel- oped. The progression does not stop here, it goes on. This character brings about hope. This hope is a joyful and expectant hope of some- thing future. In the earlier contrast in this text, this hope had a dualism to it of the glory of God both present and future. It is an expectation to see clearly the radiance of God in life now and in the future eternity. Here again we see a certain dualism. However, the hope here is in a dif- ferent direction. This hope is directed toward God’s work in us that will be fully manifest in eternity. Nevertheless, this love of God does not disappoint as it has already been poured out in the believer. The hope is the love of God in us and through us and it is already starting to work. The key to love is developing godly character. Love without character is a beginning, but love can only fully express itself through godly charac- ter since love is the ultimate in other orientation. Many get married with love without character and this makes it nearly impossible to follow through on the intent of love. Many want love but they do not know how to pay the price for love. The many broken marriages in our world testify to this reality. Many dream of love and write books and movies about love and about lost love. What about love found? When that love is found, many times it is destroyed by an inability to love well. The missing ingredient? Godly, mature character. For servant leadership to prosper, the leader must be able to love and this love must be developed through developing good, mature character.

In Romans 12:1–8, Paul addresses the issue of gifts implying that all have gifts and that part of service to God is the effective use of the gifts that are given. In connection to these gifts  there  is a scale  that has been developed for job person fit using these gifts in Romans 12 as the basis for that fit for each individual (Della Vecchio & Winston, 2004). This study provides a background for the use of these gifts in leadership contexts. However, the point of this study is to move past that preliminary study and examine some specific issues for leadership generally and in the

Leadership in the New Testament


specific gift of leading. First is found the preparation for effective use of all the gifts in Romans 12:1–3. This section begins with argumentative tex- ture. Since the believer lives under God’s mercy, there are some results that should proceed from that state of grace. Then there are two contrasts and a statement of cause and effect. The first contrast is that the believers are to present their bodies but is an act of spiritual worship. Part of worship that is spiritual or unseen is done by the physical body that is seen. Presenting one’s body to God is a surrender to serve the Lord in the way one lives and in effective use of the gifts that are given by Him. The sec- ond contrast is that the believer is not to be conformed to the world. The exhortation here is not to become a copy of the cultural and societal norms which are seen by actions but to be transformed. This transforma- tion though does not begin in the external actions but in the internal issue of the soul in that of transformation. This transformation occurs through the renewing of the mind. This is a complete change of mind; this is a soul transformation that begins in the mind. This mind renewal is an internal process that could be related to the previous issue of character and love development. Where does the believer get this internal transformation? It is a work of the mind and soul connecting with Lord in knowing and growing in the understanding of the Lord through life and it comes from the experience of God in His Word and in His process of encounter. Then there is a result statement. This has a cause and effect relationship between the initial argument and the goal or the end result. The believer lives in these contrasts to be able to prove, test, and live out the will of God. The goal is to fully live the purpose of one’s individual life.

Paul goes on to set the foundation for this purpose of living out divine purpose. There are two instructions by implication here. The first is that these gifts from God come with a warning. This is God at work in and through the individual but the person is to think soberly about this pro- cess. The key here is humility. Humility is to have an honest assessment of self. Remember, it is the Lord who gives grace. Humility is a key ingre- dient to full effectiveness in using gifts. They are gifts and can be used well but others are needed as well with their gifts. The second implication is that each is given with a measure. Some may have more of a measure than others. Remember in the giving of talents in the gospels. One received five talents, another two, and another one, and this was not the

S. Crowther


result of some previous activity; these talents were all simply given. The key to this parable is that they were judged by how they used their talents whether one or five. The thought is that the steward is responsible for faithfulness. Faithfulness is more than just showing up. This is what the one talent person thought. Faithfulness is increasing what has been given through use and development. Two issues then for effective use of the gift given are humility and faithfulness. Then Paul gives a very specific instruc- tion to those who lead, to lead with diligence, to lead with genuine zeal and commitment. However, in this context are found separate gifts for serving and teaching as well. Does this mean that serving or even teach- ing is separate from leading? Can one person use several gifts? This could be a more detailed discussion for the future. However, for the present it appears that these gifts can be used in multiples; otherwise how could Paul teach and lead? If one cannot serve and lead then there would be a conflict in servant leadership. However, servant leading is seen in Jesus and others in Scripture. The way ahead is to hear the text for what it is saying about preparation and use of gifts in the different areas but par- ticularly in the instruction to leaders.

The Paul that is met in 1 Corinthians has been a Christian for as long as 20 years, he is a mature believer and he is an apostle who has been engaged in missionary activities for more than a decade (Witherington, 1995). Paul speaks indirectly concerning leaders and leadership in 1 Corinthians 3 in a call for unity where there had been division. Some of the followers were saying they were of Apollos and others of Paul. In addressing this issue of division, Paul describes both him and Apollos as leaders. First, they were both servants as a general description of their leadership. The question here is whether Paul is referring to them as ser- vants generally or as servants to the Lord. Then each leader has a different function though the goal is still the same to build the church in Corinth. Finally, Paul declares that both he and Apollos are workers or laborers together with God. However, the followers in the church are God’s field or building. Both leaders and followers are partners with God but the picture of the goal of this process of leadership is growth. However, the growth is focused in the followers. Leaders here are described as servants who are part of a bigger enterprise with the goal of growth, but growth in the organization is growth in the followers.

Leadership in the New Testament


In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul addresses the issue of spiritual gifts and how they are distributed to each person for the common good. Notice the purpose of these gifts; they are for the common good. For the good of the whole church, for the good of each member. The word here is to be prof- itable together, to be profitable for everyone together (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). It is for growth for all and not for the recipient of the gift but for those who receive the benefit of that gift through a person. In this way, spiritual gifts are unique in that they are not so much like Christmas gifts for the receiver, but they are given so others would benefit. This idea fits well into the worldview of servant leadership. Then, at the end of the chapter, Paul discusses a progressive list of gifts beginning first with apos- tles. According to Friberg and Friberg (1994), an apostle is a person who has the special task of founding and establishing churches. This person is a leader in the church and then, second, there are prophets, and, third, teachers. The further discussion at the end of chapter 12 indicates that that not everyone is one for these leaders but they have differing gifts for differing purposes. Nevertheless, there are some with these types of leader gifts. Yet, in the use of these gifts, there is a way to use them that is the best way as found in 1 Corinthians 13 and that way is love.

In Romans and Corinthians are found several themes for leadership that proceed from the issue of spiritual gifts and from the issue of Paul leading the church. In several places, Paul uses the term “servant” in describing leaders and their leadership. The implication is that these lead- ers are servants of the Lord rather than servants of others as was seen in the teachings of Jesus. However, when Paul describes this type of leader- ship, it includes a focus on others, a mutuality with others in leading, and a design for the growth of the individuals which is good for the group or the church or the called-out ones. Paul describes himself as an apostle who leads the church with care and yet as one who gives instruction. In these instructions are found some key elements for leadership, namely humility and faithfulness, as well as a paradoxical design for rejoicing in suffering. Paul develops some important ingredients for life and leader- ship in this context of suffering that produces perseverance, godly charac- ter, and hope, and then this becomes the foundation for effective love. In connection to spiritual gifts, love again is seen as the most effective way of leading and living. Concerning spiritual gifts, it is found that different

S. Crowther


gifts are given to different people and then the purpose of the gift is not for the person, even though the person is responsible to use the gift prop- erly. The true recipients of the gifts are those that receive growth and help through the gift in that individual. Gifts by nature are intended to be other centered. In this discussion are seen several connections to servant leadership with a strong focus on others and bringing growth to others with a recognition for the need of character development in virtues like humility. Nevertheless, there are a few areas that need further exploration to nuance and expand servant leadership as in the area of dealing with suffering and perseverance.

The Prison Epistles

In the Prison Epistles, Paul gives strong exhortations about theology, the Christian life, and how to lead using several pictures like that of a Roman guard. However, it is here that Paul gives a further perspective on the leadership of Christ as well as further details on spiritual gifts and leader- ship. In these epistles are found rich resources for the understanding of leadership from a biblical perspective.

In Ephesians 4:7–16, Paul returns to his theme of spiritual gifts but this time with a specific focus on leaders and leadership. This section begins with a premise and then develops with argumentative texture. The premise is that each person is given grace from Christ in a measure and this brings gifts to individuals. In this context, it is talking about gifts given to individuals who become leaders; it is the gift of leadership in different categories. The gifts listed here in Ephesians 4 involve leadership roles (Choi, 2014). However, in verse 11, the argument moves quickly to the purpose of these gifts of leadership concluding with results if the pur- pose is followed. There is an “if, then” implication though it is not clearly stated. Inside these later two sections of purpose and result, there are progressive textures that are related to each other with the idea of cause and effect. Paul uses the word “apostle” in the list of gifts in the broad sense concerning those who have been called by God to establish churches and the prophets are to edify and build the church (Arnold, 2010). These are leaders in the church but with different functions.

Leadership in the New Testament


The purpose of these gifts and leadership ministries given to the church are first to equip the saints as the first stage in this first progressive texture. This is a process of adjustment that results in complete preparedness (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). Leaders are to equip and train the people of the organization or the church. The use of equipping here implies that some type of training went on and development of competency through practical training in line with giftedness (Choi, 2014). The purpose of this training is for the people to do the work of serving each other and encouraging or building others up. The Greek “work” here is the word for “service” (Friberg & Friberg, 1994). The focus goes from leader to fol- lower and then from follower to others to build up and encourage others. This keeps processing until all become mature. So, what is the result of this leadership process? This moves into the second progressive texture. As a result, there will be maturity evidenced by stability, being able to speak truth, and love. Further in this progression every joint or member supplies or functions in their place bringing growth and walking in love. Christ has sovereignly endowed every individual with special abilities to serve others and it is the responsibility of the gifted leaders to equip oth- ers for a life of service with the goal of maturity and love for each other (Arnold, 2010). Leadership here is to serve others by training them to serve others with the focus on the followers becoming mature and able to interact with others in love. This has attributes of servant leadership but the focus is on the process of equipping followers to lead. While it begins with grace and gifts its result is love.

This pericope of Scripture in Philippians 2:5–11 exhorts the believers to the imitation of Jesus Christ in his self-emptying, but God exalted Him and He brings glory to the Father in the process. The highest exam- ple of a self-forgetful regard for the interest of others is portrayed by Christ, wherein believers have a perfect example of how they should behave in humility and self-renunciation (Muller, 1995). This hymn looks back to the exhortation to humility (2:1–4) and forward to the exhortation to obedience (2:12–18) with Christ exemplifying the quali- ties that Paul wants to see in the Philippians (Holloway, 2007). But how is this connected to leadership? Set in the first-century context of Philippi, the consensus is that this is a religious response to the tyranny of local Roman leadership and this opens the door for researchers to explore the

S. Crowther


hymn as an alternative, exemplary model of leadership rooted in a first- century, mimetic Christological spirituality (Bekker, 2007). There are several elements here to explore as a theological foundation upon which to build leadership thinking. This concept has to do with the pattern set by Jesus Christ, his nature and attitude, His obedience and humility, his motive and His goal of bringing glory to God, and his unique interaction with the Father. Paul is appealing to the Philippians not only to know about Christ but to be like Him and this form allows us to accurately reconstruct applications for leadership (Ayers, 2006).

Were these exhortations to believers generally or did they apply to leaders in Philippi? The letter itself was addressed to the saints as well as the overseers. However, this section, as seen previously, was a response to the Roman leadership. In context, Paul is communicating the realities of the nature of Jesus Christ by juxtaposing Jesus’ humility to his position and power, two issues that are of unique concern to leaders (Ayers, 2006). Position and power, while important issues for leadership, are also con- cerns of the teachings of Jesus in the gospels. Jesus also uses the servant analogy, as seen here in Philippians, as an example and motivation of leadership in the gospels and this is also seen throughout the New Testament (Ayers, 2006). Paul presents Christ as a role model for others to imitate with two extreme measures, death and obedience; to humble Himself in stark contrast to emperors of Rome, Jesus willfully chose downward mobility as a path to exaltation (Gray, 2008). This model was one of intentional downward mobility as a path to leadership, not just of Rome but of every knee and tongue; so, how much more does this serve as a model for all lesser human forms of leadership? The servant model and humility are held up as ideals of leadership in the context of position and power in the Scripture with this passage in Philippians as an impor- tant example of this form of leadership.

This section in Philippians begins with the exhortation toward a proper attitude, an internal invisible issue but then moves to describe this attitude of Christ in a chiasm. The first point of the chiasm is that Christ is God (verses 5–6a), the second is that He descended to earth and became a ser- vant (6b–7), then, the third and central focus of the chiasm is that he became obedient to the death on the cross (8), then, the first counterpoint is that Jesus ascended and became exalted (9), and the second counterpoint

Leadership in the New Testament


is that He is acknowledged as God (10–11) (Bekker, 2007). This structure focuses on the obedience and death of Christ, not as the redemptive act but as an exemplary act to be followed, not the death but the obedience. In holding up Christ as an example, Paul wants the Philippians to imitate him since Christ put the interests of others first and willing to give up some of the privilege and status that was his as God (Grudem, 1994). It is preceded by humbling himself and followed by divine exaltation and bringing glory to God. This is the general process of leadership, it begins with a proper attitude that produces humility that results in God exalting or empowering the leader and bringing glory to God.

This concept of leadership begins ontologically with the leader becom- ing a servant through a formation process that begins with self-emptying to receive the formation of the Lord, especially in the internal areas con- cerning character and destiny. Then from this ontological reality comes the change in the leader operating in humility and obedience; this comes from the ontological reality of this person who has taken on the form of a servant. The leader takes on a process of bearing the image of Christ and leading others into this process. The goal of this process is to bring honor to God, bringing further revelation of God. In addition, a special rela- tionship is developed with God. These elements then become the foun- dation issues for an effective leader, not only in leading the church but also in leading the believers to become effective disciples of Christ and a viable Christian community. In the gospels are seen the teachings and actions of Jesus concerning leadership but here in this epistle is found the explanation of Jesus’ servant leadership. There is an alignment here with the model of servant leadership in the leader becoming a servant. However, this concept further nuances the model with the internal work of self-emptying and the goal of bringing glory to God. In addition, this idea shows that the leader will actually receive benefit from this process as well. This text will be further examined later in this study.

In both pericopes, there are areas that confirm and even nuance ser- vant leadership as in Ephesians that focuses on the follower and  on training the follower to serve. Then in Philippians the focus is on serv- ing others but through the foundation of godly character. Nevertheless, in both sections, there are areas that can expand or further nuance ser- vant leadership with the Ephesian focus on the process toward maturity

S. Crowther


in the follower and the result of love. Then in Philippians the concept goes past serving to the ontological issues of becoming a servant by self-emptying.

The Pastoral Epistles

Then Paul becomes emphatic in the Pastoral Epistles about the leader being blameless and showing good fruit through relationships. These are issues that need careful consideration in the context of servant leader- ship and they even extend beyond servant leadership. It is here that Paul gives particular insight for leaders and leadership with implications for leadership development from a New Testament perspective. It is here that the instructions about leaders become very explicit and detailed calling for a detailed examination.

In I Timothy, Paul is giving Timothy personal instruction and encour- agement in faithfully carrying out his task of leading the church in Ephesus (Zehr, 2010). This instruction gives insight for leadership from a biblical perspective. The opening formula, “Here is a trustworthy say- ing,” draws strong attention to the importance of the overseer’s office, it is a way of bringing out the dignity of the office before introducing the qualifications required (Guthrie, 1999). This is an important issue for church leadership for Paul in the Ephesians context. This need for quali- fied church leaders reflects the need of Ephesus, and there can be insight gleaned from Paul’s instruction to Timothy; though the cultural context is different, the human context is very much the same.

In the inner texture of the text, there is both a repetitive and a progres- sive texture pattern. There are five sets of words that are repeated in this text; “overseer” is repeated two times, “must” is repeated three times, “not” is repeated four times, “fall” two times, and “devil” two times. These help to form significant thoughts in the understanding of this trustwor- thy statement about church leaders. In that, there are certain must issues for leaders as well as negations; there are certain qualities needed as well as certain things that are not true about these leaders. Additionally, in the end it is the devil that will oppose these leaders, not just circumstances or other people. Though many of the musts and nots are natural issues, it is

Leadership in the New Testament


a spiritual task with spiritual applications to lead the church. The purpose for these natural qualities is not only to set the example for others but is also to persevere in proper effective leadership. This is so that the leader “will not fall” is the refrain in the last two verses of this section. The rep- etition of the musts and nots set up positive and negative issues for leader- ship qualifications here in this leadership description.

However, before the list can be made it must be noted that there is a progressive texture as well that is deeply embedded in the text. The first progression moves from the desire of the person to be an overseer, to characteristics that must be in the person, to something outside of the person that he/she must have. Then there is a progression of the location of the leadership from office in verse 1 to the household in verse 4, to the church in verse 5, then to outside the church in verse 7. In addition, there is a progression of the actions, from work in verse 1 to manage in verse 4, to take care of in verse 5, to having a good reputation in verse 7. This texture sets up a sequence or progression for a framework in which to understand these qualifications.

There is also a further inner texture in an opening-middle-closing tex- ture. Opening-middle-closing texture resides in the nature of a begin- ning, body, and conclusion of a section of discourse (Robbins, 1996). This section, though not narrative, is a discourse from Paul to Timothy on church leadership for Ephesus. The section begins with discussion about the overseer, then moves to the qualifications of the overseer, and concludes with a discussion of how the leader is to overcome the devil. The repetitive, progressive, and opening-middle-closing texture can be seen graphically (Table 6.2).

According to the inner texture of the text, it divides into four sections with each focusing on different actions and qualifications for the leader. Asake (1998) synthesizes these qualifications under four categories: per- sonal qualifications, family qualifications, public qualifications, and min- istry qualifications. Though these categories are similar, they are not topical; instead, they relate to and draw from the different sections of this pericope. There are four sections, but when viewed according to the tex- ture of this pericope, they reveal new insights.

The first set of qualifications has to do with the office and the work of the leader. The one who desires this position, there is a certain amount of

S. Crowther


work affiliated with it, but one must become a certain kind of person to be able to properly do the work, this has to do with character. Character is the inner form that makes anyone or anything what it is. It is the inner reality in which thoughts, speech and behavior are rooted (Guinness, 2003). This is not a list of things to do as much as what one must become as a person. Leadership is about leading by example, or modeling, one leads more by who they are than by what is said.

The first set of qualifications has ten positive qualifications and two neg- ative ones. It also involves ten internal issues and two external issues that can be seen by others. It begins with the attribute of being above reproach, having unquestionable integrity (Conner, 1989), or not only of good report but deservedly so (Guthrie, 1999). Zehr (2010) declares that this virtue covers the whole list in a general way. It appears though that this virtue is a general statement about the first section in this pericope with its focus on internal character issues with some external issues that can be seen.

How is the leader to be above reproach? By being the husband of one wife, some have thought this to forbid second marriages after divorce (Guthrie, 1999), while others declare that it does not involve divorce and/or remarriage but excludes immoral behavior (Conner, 1989). Certainly, this calls for fidelity and integrity to the marriage covenant and this is an important ingredient to the leader’s credibility (Zehr, 2010). Being above reproach involves fidelity to the marriage covenant, which is an attribute that is internal concerning intent, but it can also be seen by those inside and outside of the church.

Table 6.2 The inner texture of I Timothy 3:1–7

I Timothy 3:1–7 repetition and Opening-middle-closing pattern Progressive pattern

Person Location Actions

3:1 Overseer Desire Office Work 3:2 Overseer Must Must be 3:3 Not 3:4 Must Must be Household Manage 3:5 Not Church Take care of 3:6 Not Fall Devil 3:7 Must Not Fall Devil Must

have Outside the

church Good


Leadership in the New Testament


The next three virtues are related and they describe an orderly life, tem- perate, prudent, and respectable (Guthrie, 1999). The first two virtues call attention to inner character while the third speaks of one’s external deport- ment, and this shows that the leader has to be well mannered and orderly (Zehr, 2010). According to I Timothy 3:2, a leader must be honorable and not boastful, have a sound mind, and watchful, not careless (Conner, 1989). These inner qualities involve self-control as well as having a disci- plined mind in the living of a life that is honorable and not arrogant.

The next two qualities in this first section for the work of a leader have to do with ministry as a leader in the church. Hospitality would be particu- larly important in the early church since without it expansion of the church would be seriously retarded (Guthrie, 1999). The ability to teach, though not a character trait, was an important skill since the leader was responsible to instruct the believers in the truth of God’s word (Zehr, 2010). The word “teacher” here is instructor, one who is accorded status and may be used as a term of respect (Nyland, 2010). It is important that these ministry skills are found in the midst of character qualities without which these skills could become counterproductive. This is not simply an arbitrary list but it is four sets of ministry qualifications that cannot be arbitrarily dismissed or divided for convenience into topical directives for the Western mind. They are clusters of qualities that center on the work of the leader, managing as a director of the household, caring as a church leader, and facing the chal- lenges from outside the church as an effective leader. The Western mind’s propensity to make lists from dialogue stripping it from its context is clearly seen in the lists for leadership made from this pericope.

The next five issues are set in opposition to each other not just positive and negative qualities on a list. Nyland (2010) translates this text as someone who is not a drunk or gets into fist fights but who is fair, peace- ful, and free from greed. This is a character quality of integrity and whole- ness. A leader is an emotionally healthy person with confidence in the gospel message and in himself because an impatient leader could easily hand out rough treatment to an immature believer (Zehr, 2010). This is about the leader’s internal character qualities that induce him to handle difficult situations in a godly manner. It is not primarily about wine or money; it is about the state of the person’s soul that manifests in times of stress and pressure.

S. Crowther


The second section in this text concerns the management of the house- hold. The word “manage” carries the sense of presiding over activities in an official capacity and is used in the context of one who is a leader, supervisor or director, the word encompasses care, concern, and official rule with authority (Nyland, 2010). Any man unable to govern his children gra- ciously by maintaining good discipline is not able to govern in the church (Guthrie, 1999). The leader must manage his family well as a ground upon which to build good management of the household of God. Implementing care and concern with authority is an extremely difficult task and the family is the training ground for this artful ability to govern. It has to do with the ability and the character of the person leading and it must be practiced first in the home before it is practiced in the organization.

The third section builds upon the first two sections; these qualities can- not be separated but are interrelated. This third section deals with taking care of the church of God. This is an important task that cannot be done by a novice. The leader cannot be newly planted in the community because his/her head can swell and he/she can become conceited, literally his/her head is filled with smoke, and without the benefit of a mature mind he/she can fall under the same condemnation as the devil (Zehr, 2010). The same condemnation as the devil, this is judgment for the sin of pride, since the devil became conceited and when he lifted himself up God threw him down. The more natural interpretation is judgment meted out for the sin of pride (Guthrie, 1999). Not only are there char- acter qualities necessary for this type of leadership but also the ultimate test is that of humility. Can this person resist the pride that will come from being a leader? This is the ultimate question since this is extremely important in the life of the person, the leader, and it is important in lead- ing the church or any organization.

The fourth section involves the leader’s reputation with those outside of the church and brings him/her into direct conflict with the devil. In the previous section, there was a need not to fall under the same condem- nation as the devil, not follow his ways. This section involves not falling into the snare set by the devil in direct confrontation. Unethical and unwise conduct can easily disgrace a leader and become a snare of the devil who seeks to slander the church through the non-Christian com- munity (Zehr, 2010). The word used here for snare was used to refer to

Leadership in the New Testament


the wooden horse of Troy and refers to a trick in the form of a trap that will hold one fast (Nyland, 2010). This trap is a strategy of the devil to bring reproach, or a bad reputation not only to the leader but to the church and to the gospel itself because of the weaknesses in the leader. The ability to be above reproach is the culmination of the previous char- acter qualities in the foundation of leadership for the leader.

The process of leadership begins with the person desiring the office and thereby developing qualities of self-control and integrity that are manifest in the marriage and in peacefulness which are necessary for this office. The qualifications continue in the household as the leader manages his/ her household in learning to use authority with care, as manifest in the family and children. However, the leader cannot be a new convert and must develop the quality of humility to properly take care of or lead the church. Finally, the leader must maintain a good reputation even outside the church to actively overcome the strategies set against the church to discredit the gospel and to develop proper strategies for the advance of the gospel. This is a result of the culmination of the qualities needed for leadership including personal maturity (Fig. 6.1).

Take care of Overcome Pride

Church of God Humility maturity

Manage Preside over THEN Preside over

Household Family Church

Office Above reproach Integrity

And in marriage Wholeness


Work disciplined mind

Not drunk

Hospitality and Teach Not disputing

Good reputation

Outside the church ——-overcome traps ——- proper strategies

Fig. 6.1 Biblical model of leadership from 1 Timothy 3:1–7

S. Crowther


This concept of leadership is focused on internal character qualities but ones that manifest in certain important behaviors that can be seen and are part of effective leadership. This model is internally driven and has many connections to servant leadership. Some of these qualities would include humility and personal maturity with character qualities like integrity. However, it also takes into account qualities to overcome inevi- table opposition and pressure that comes with leadership. This model is internally driven by character development that is manifest in behavior while being concerned with issues of maturity, humility, and a good repu- tation. The design is to become an effective leader to be able to be effec- tive in teaching, hospitality, proper strategy, and overcoming opposition. These qualities are effective because they are built upon the internal godly character qualities. The overarching issue here is the internal character of the leader in being blameless. Nevertheless, there are some extensions past servant leadership that could facilitate virtue development for ser- vant leadership. These extensions would include the issues of wholeness and self-control. In addition, there may be some places that this concept moves beyond servant leadership in areas of managing or presiding and learning to be above reproach as well as developing effective strategies for overcoming problems and for future growth.

The General Epistles

John focuses on love in leadership which is an important component of servant leadership  and James focuses on compassion. However, other epistles give glimpses or windows into the New Testament concepts of leadership with short directives sometimes aimed at instructing followers and other times aimed at instructing leaders.

In Hebrews 13:7, the author gives an exhortation to the followers to remember their leaders with particular considerations. These consider- ations for followers then become a picture of leadership from the perspec- tive of the leader being the one to speak the word of God and the model to follow. The essence of ancient education was following good models or imitating them (Witherington, 2007b). This understanding and process is implied in this text. This verse has a progressive texture with three steps

Leadership in the New Testament


in following their leaders. First, the followers are to call to mind the leader and the word of God spoken to them. Leaders need to have an ability to speak the word from God, to give insight and directives. The gifts in Ephesians 4 all concern leadership roles involving mostly speech (Choi, 2014). Leadership involves communication and here it is communica- tion from the word of God. Then the follower is to consider the outcome of the leader’s way of life. The successful outcome of their behavior or way of life is to be imitated (Witherington, 2007b). Leadership involves liv- ing an exemplary life for others to follow, the leader is to be a role model but not just in organizational life but also in his/her personal life. Finally, the follower is to imitate the faith and the faithfulness of the leader. The Christian leader is to have a vibrant faith that can be imitated. In this context, leadership involves communication, with a role model life and faith. These issues can impact servant leadership yet they seem to be out- side the normal parameters of the contemporary models.

In 1 Peter 5:1–6, Peter gives explicit instructions to the elders in the church on how they should lead. He addresses the elders by identifying himself as a fellow elder while not using the term “apostle” and this is the only place in the New Testament that this term is used (Shepherd, 2014). He continues by calling himself a witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker of the glory to follow. He does not use titles as much as descrip- tors of who he is and how he is one of them, the elders of the church. Peter refused special privilege here locating himself as an elder alongside other elders (Greene, 2007). He then quickly moves to a simple instruc- tion for the leaders in how they should lead. However, he then moves to a progressive texture of contrasts to explain how this leading should be done and he talks about the reward of leadership but then with a final exhortation to humility.

He begins the exhortation with the simple command to shepherd the flock of God. This is reminiscent of the final exhortation that Jesus gave to Peter on the shore of Galilee in John 21. Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him and Peter said he did to which Jesus responded with the command to feed His sheep. Peter here uses the same verb of shepherd as Jesus used when He told Peter to tend His sheep (Grudem, 1999). Peter passed on this instruction to these newer leaders in the church. The imperative form of the verb is used here (Laniak, 2006). In other words, this was a

S. Crowther


c ommand. It was not just instructions on how to do this way of leading, but it was intended as a command to be able to lead effectively, to lead biblically. The concept of shepherd as applied to leaders among God’s people is traditional and it is applied to God and God’s leadership style as well as to human leaders in the Old Testament (Witherington, 2007a). This concept was familiar to the people of the first century, yet it was continually being updated by Jesus and now by Peter. He then unpacks this concept with three progressive contrasts of shepherd leadership. To be an effective elder or leader and to shepherd or tend or lead the flock well, it must be done a certain way. Contrasting usually helps to clarify an issue when the opposite is seen; it makes the issue clearer. Peter’s goal here is to be very clear about how to be an effective, godly leader in the imita- tion of Jesus since He is the chief shepherd. The first set of three contrasts sets willingness against compulsion in the oversight of the flock. The leader was to be the shepherd over the flock eagerly or spontaneously not under compulsion (Witherington, 2007a). This is an issue of internal motivation, it answers the question of why one leads. The second contrast sets the issue of personal gain against a desire to give. Leadership was not to be motivated by greed for financial gain by eagerness to serve others with a desire to give (Jobes, 2005). The second issue deals with focus that is either a self-focus or other focus. The final contrast sets dominance in leadership against leading by example. This paints a picture of the con- trast in shepherding between a shepherd who drives the sheep by com- mands or the shepherd who leads the sheep by calling them by name like Jesus who said that He knew His sheep. This was not a hierarchical exer- cise of power but a horizontal demonstration by example (Elliot, 2000). This final contrast deals with the issue of how to use power, it was to be used with the leader becoming the example rather than used to control and command. These three contrasts show the way to shepherd against the backdrop of human tendencies in leading. It is a contrast between positive and negative leadership qualities. The three concepts on the neg- ative side carry the sense of personal gain and domination, while qualities on the positive side are other centered focused on serving and forgetful of personal advantage (Shepherd, 2014). The issues of leadership here are deeper issues of the soul concerning motive, focus, and even learning to use power properly.

Leadership in the New Testament


All of this talk of shepherding and now Peter turns the discussion to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. He is the ultimate Shepherd leader and this discussion has been an extension of how to be a shepherd leader that begins in the Old Testament where it is found that “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). Then Jesus declares Himself to be the good shepherd (John 10) and gives instruction to Peter on how to shepherd the flock (John 21). This continues this discussion with specific instruction about how to be a good shepherd leader. However, the discussion does not stop here. It continues with a promise of reward. This could disturb some people especially in light of the other focus of the previous discus- sion. Nevertheless, there is a reward for good leading. This reward is a crown of glory. Notice though this is a result not a motive for leading. There is a reward to other focus but it is not counter to this other- centered leading. Yet, this is not the final word that Peter has for leaders. The final word is for all including leaders. It is an exhortation to humility. This is of supreme importance whether a follower or a leader. God gives grace to the humble and the instruction to each individual is to humble them- selves. In reality, if this is not done God will take special care to bring humility. Humility is the core ingredient for these other issues. Humble yourselves … so that at the proper time He may exalt you (1 Peter 5:6). God will help the leader come to the right place at the right time. Humility then is the key foundation for coming to a place of usefulness. In this exhortation, there are several connections with servant leadership including humility and an emphasis on other focus. However, these con- cepts for leadership dive deeply into the soul of the leader impacting motive and even the use of power that are not addressed in the current models of servant leadership.

Apocalyptic Servant Leadership

Then there is the leader in the apocalyptic context that must lead by serv- ing others with the message of reality, not that the world is ending but that the world is the place that is lived until the end and in light of that one must lead to help others and bring glory to God. In Revelation 1, John is seen as the servant who sees the revelation of Jesus Christ. This message is

S. Crowther


sent to show the servants of the Lord the things that must happen. Then John as the servant brings this message to the other servants. There are two things to notice here. The first is that all to whom this text is written are considered servants. The second is that John is also considered a servant or a servant to the Lord and yet he is a servant to the servants as well. How does he serve them? He serves them by bringing a message of instruction and yet of hope in the midst of dark days of persecution. Those that are servants of the Lord usually become servant to others. However, there is a further issue here in that John as a servant brings words of hope and help in the midst of turmoil. This is a further nuance to the function of servant leadership in bringing a message of courage and hope, especially in times of turmoil and uncertainty.

Other Leadership Issues and Models in the New Testament

There are other models and concepts of leadership that are taught in the text of the New Testament. Some of these models would include trans- formational and authentic leadership. In addition, there are concepts for leadership that do not fit any present models. For example, Jesus was a servant leader but he was also a transformational leader. His leadership easily fits into the overall structure of transformational leadership. Jesus was effective in inspirational motivation, He cast a vision for making disciples of all nations and millions, billions of people have caught and participated in that vision through the ages of the church. Jesus was the ultimate leader in using idealized influence in that He  is the ultimate example to follow. Peter tells us we are to follow in His exact steps. It is this imitation of Christ that sets the bar not only for leadership but also for life for the believer. As far as intellectual stimulation, he was always challenging and pushing on with new ideas. He used formulas like “it is written, but I say to you.” Finally, He was the ultimate in individualized consideration. Though He spent time with crowds, He spent more times with His disciples and even individuals like unnamed people who were sick or troubled. He had many individualized conversations with people who He helped and He was not as interested in those with power unless

Leadership in the New Testament


of course they needed His help. Add to this the concept of authentic leadership. This is a developed theory but at its core it has to do with authenticity and it was established as a response to corruption in leader- ship in the twenty-first century. Jesus was the ultimate in opposing and overcoming corruption while being highly authentic even when others, including His disciples, did not understand Him. Add to this list some of the issues that have been found in this study in areas of motive and character that are not addressed in contemporary models of leadership. This list of leadership concepts in the New Testament is quite extensive. The question is whether these concepts can be brought together for a cohesive concept for biblical leadership.

Leadership Lessons from the New Testament

So what is to be done with these New Testament issues of leadership? The leadership lessons from the New Testament are broad and very profound. Many of these lessons include a deeper understanding of issues like humility, love and compassion. Other lessons include the way to becom- ing a servant that is ontological, it is part of who one is and the path is both countercultural and counterintuitive. In addition, the leader will serve people and God by bringing glory to God. The teleology of leader- ship is to show the real God to others and with compassion help them to fulfill the divine purpose given to them. Finally, there are issues of prob- lem solving, strategy, and even vision for the mission seen in these texts concerning leadership. This helps in the development of a biblical servant leadership. However, in some ways this moves beyond servant leadership.

In these texts are found issues of success and failure in leadership. One of the causes of these failures is what could be termed as the dark side of leadership. Concerning the negative aspects of leadership narcissism or narcissistic leadership has been an important area of research recently. Schmidt (2008) has declared that there is a unique construct of dysfunc- tional leadership called toxic leadership and he has developed a scale for this type of leadership and narcissistic leadership is a component of this toxic leadership. In addition, Conger (1989) investigated what he called the dark side of charismatic leadership. Though he saw negative effects of

S. Crowther


this leadership, he saw it as unintentional. However, this began to bring to the forefront the need to study some of these negative aspects of lead- ership even when the leadership was effective in some ways. In the Western worldview, the zeal for pragmatism has tempted society to believe that if something works it is good and all of its parts are good. This North American fascination with function has mesmerized us into a heresy of pragmatism. This thinking can be challenged on several levels and should at least be tested when it comes to the issue of leadership.

Narcissism is a personality trait encompassing grandiosity, arrogance, self-absorption, entitlement, fragile self-esteem, and hostility; yet, it is an attribute of many powerful leaders. Narcissistic leaders have grandiose belief systems and leadership styles and are generally motivated by their needs for power and admiration rather than empathetic concern for the constituents and institutions they lead. However, narcissists also possess the charisma and grand vision that are vital to effective leadership (Rosenthal & Pittinsky, 2006). This concept of leading is directly opposed to servant leadership. Yet, does this mean that servant leaders are immune to this human tendency especially in the light of success? Narcissistic leadership occurs when leaders’ actions are principally motivated by their own egomaniacal needs and beliefs, superseding the needs and interests of the constituents and institutions they lead (Rosenthal & Pittinsky, 2006). This is the very opposite of servant leadership and in essence a call for very serious consideration and further development of the model of servant leadership since so many leaders have followed the path of this dark side of leadership.

The issue of power and leadership is historic and controversial. Machiavelli (A.D. 1469–1527) is one of the best-known political theorists of all time whose position was that leaders are essentially selfish, self- interested, and self-protective and his concept of politics involved power relations, divorcing politics from virtue in the name of realism (Guinness, 2000). His concept of leadership was that power was to be used for the advancement of the leader. A good leader, according to Machiavelli, would consider self first and even use deception as a tool of power.

Despite the positive features in many theories of leadership, there are some weaknesses including a bias toward heroic concepts of leadership and a lack of sufficient specification of underlying influence processes

Leadership in the New Testament


(Yukl, 2012). Can this heroic leadership concept become a problem as the leader becomes more powerful and the followers more enamored with the leader? As contemporary leaders become more compulsively attuned to polling and focus groups, leadership becomes codependent on followership and the public with the result of mediocre leadership, rein- forced by trends toward the cult of personality and celebrity (Guinness, 2000). This trend toward personality and celebrity though effective in some ways has some further weaknesses. These weaknesses can be over- come by servant leadership especially as this model is seen in the New Testament with internal character development as a foundation for lead- ership. This speaks to a weakness in some models of leadership in the lack of specifications of the underlying influence processes. It is not only a question of how the leader motivates the followers but it is also a question of the internal motivation or processes within the leader. This is addressed in the context of the biblical teachings on good leadership. However, this brings us back to the definition of Narcissistic leadership having to do with the internal needs of the leader in a grandiose sense of self- importance, preoccupation with success and power, excessive need for admiration, entitlement, lack of empathy, envy, inferiority, and hypersen- sitivity. These are internal issues and if left unchecked they can grow into self-issues that bring disaster to the leader and others. Effective leadership can suffer from a “heroic leadership” bias and it has the potential to be abused. This abuse can relate to power, manipulation, and it can be used for destructive purposes. Part of the problem is that many of the models of leadership look only at behaviors and external measures of success. These models do not equip the leader with the proper tools for addressing the allure of power when the models of leadership succeed.

The way forward for leadership is not just the question of effectiveness but it is the question of motive and internal issues. Though many models are effective, they can come with a high cost of individual and organiza- tional destruction. The way forward includes a further development of the biblical model as found in these texts in the New Testament as the foundation and the focus of leadership. Then possibly a new model could be developed by carefully examining some of the characteristics of effec- tive models of leadership, particularly servant leadership. But this must be done carefully to not lose the focus of biblical leadership. This is not

S. Crowther


an appeal for a return to tradition. It is an appeal to view leadership with eyes wide open and to reexamine the biblical model where there is more insight for leadership for the present and the future.


Many pericopes have been examined here in the discussion of biblical servant leadership. In this search, there have been many discoveries of further nuances and explanations or even expansions for servant leader- ship. In addition, some of the leadership concepts have moved beyond servant leadership. However, the question is whether this movement beyond servant leadership is a critique of this model or whether it is a place for further research and expansion. The problem and the area for further discussion is how to take all of these various elements and bring them together into a model of biblical servant leadership or should they be pursued as simply biblical leadership. Can these issues be brought together under one heading or are they simply different tools in the leader toolbox to be used when needed? This is an important question. At the very least, this study has shown the diversity and complexity of leadership issues as found in the New Testament. Now the issue is to understand them as they interact together to form a way of leading that is fully biblical.


Agosto, E. (2005). Servant Leadership: Jesus & Paul. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press.

Althaus, P. (1966). The Theology of Martin Luther. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Arnold, C. (2010). Ephesians (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Asake, M. N. (1998). An Exposition of 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9 with Application to Bajju ECWA Churches in Northern Nigeria. Unpublished dis- sertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX.

Leadership in the New Testament


Ayers, M. (2006). Towards a Theology of Leadership. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 1, 3–27.

Bekker, C.  J. (2007). Sharing the Incarnation: Towards a Model of Mimetic Christological Leadership. Paper presented at the Biblical Perspective Research Roundtable.

Burns, J., Shoup, J., & Simmons, D. (Eds.). (2014). Organizational Leadership: Foundations and Practices for Christians. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Choi, P. R. (2014). The Pauline Epistles. In S. Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp.  291–307). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Conger, J. A. (1989). The Charismatic Leader: Behind the Mystique of Exceptional Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Conner, K.  J. (1989). The Church in the New Testament. Chichester, UK: Sovereign World Ltd.

Davids, P. H. (1990). The First Epistle of Peter: New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Della Vecchio, D., & Winston, B. E. (2004). A Seven-Scale Instrument to Measure the Romans 12 Motivational Gifts and a Proposition that the Romans 12 Gift Profiles Might Apply to Person-Job Fit Analysis. Virginia Beach, VA: School of Leadership Studies, Regent University.

Elliot, J. H. (2000). The Anchor Bible: I Peter. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Friberg, T., & Friberg, B. (1994). Analytical Greek New Testament (GNM) (2nd ed.). n.p.: Timothy and Barbara Friberg.

Gray, D. R. (2008). Christological Hymn: The Leadership Paradox of Philippians 2:5–11. Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership, 2(1), 3–18.

Greene, J.  (2007). 1 Peter: Two Horizons New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Grudem, W. (1994). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Grudem, W. (1999). The First Epistle of Peter: An Introduction and Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Guinness, O. (2000). When No One Sees: The Importance of Character in an Age of Image. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Guinness, O. (2003). The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. Nashville, TN: W Publishing.

S. Crowther


Guthrie, D. (1999). The Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 14, 2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Holloway, P.  A. (2007). Consolation in Philippians: Philosophical Sources and Rhetorical Strategy, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Jobes, K. (2005). 1 Peter: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Laniak, T.  S. (2006). Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Morris, A. J., Brotheridge, C. M., & Urbanski, J. C. (2005). Bringing Humility to Leadership: Antecedents and Consequences of Leader Humility. Human Relations, 58(10), 1323–1350.

Muller, J. J. (1995). The Epistles of Paul to the Philippians and Philemon. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B Eerman’s Publishing Company.

Nyland, A. (2010). Pastoral Epistles: The Source New Testament: With Extensive Notes on Greek Word Meaning. Australia: Smith and Sterling Publishing.

Robbins, V. K. (1996). Exploring the Texture of Texts: A Guide to Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

Rosenthal, S. A., & Pittinsky, T. L. (2006). Narcissistic Leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 17(6), 617–633.

Sauvagnat, B.  J. (2014). Barnabas: A Study in Empowering Leadership. In S.  Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 323–337). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Schmidt, A. A. (2008). Development and Validation of the Toxic Leadership Scale. University of Maryland.

Shepherd, T.  R. (2014). The General Epistles. In S.  Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 211–226). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Tilstra, D. (2014). Peter: A Narrative of Transformation. In S.  Bell (Ed.), Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (pp. 291–307). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Willimon, W. H. (2002). Back to the Burning Bush. Christian Century, 119(9), 7. Witherington, B. (1995). Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical

Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans. Witherington, B. (2007a). Letter and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio-

Rhetorical Commentary on 1–2 Peter. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Leadership in the New Testament


Witherington, B. (2007b). Letter and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio- Rhetorical Commentary on Hebrews, James and Jude. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Yukl, G.  A. (2012). Leadership in Organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Zehr, P. M. (2010). 1 & 2 Timothy Titus. Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press.

S. Crowther

135© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7_7

7 Biblical Servant Leadership

What is biblical servant leadership? Is it servant leadership that has been discussed in the models with their connections to each other but as cri- tiqued and expanded by the teachings of Scripture? In this search through biblical servant leadership the texts describe many aspects of leadership and aspects of servant leadership as well. The concepts are diverse and look at diverse levels of leadership: from leadership preparation to leader- ship legacy, from behaviors to internal issues like motives and even atti- tudes. These biblical constructs and designs fit well with the overall concept of servant leadership as well as with some of the individual issues of servant leadership. In this process is found a finely nuanced way of leadership that is biblical servant leadership.

Biblical Concepts for Servant Leadership

In these biblical concepts are found not only virtues and constructs but methods of learning leadership. Jesus used the method of modeling which would include several current ideas like mentoring and action learning, but it expands these with concepts about the effectiveness of the “follow me” method. Both Old and New Testaments endorse servant leadership


and give insights into both the model and the process of servant leader- ship. It is apparent from these studies that love is paramount in servant leadership along with the other virtues of servant leadership like humility, altruism, trust, empowering others, and service to others. The core issue for many of these texts is upon the focus on the followers in caring for them, empowering them, and protecting them. The Scriptures heartily endorse servant leadership, however, with some nuances and expansions.

There are many internal issues that become important in this biblical concept of servant leadership that are not directly addressed in the ser- vant leadership models. The internal issues of integrity and forgiveness come to the forefront here as of prime importance. These were the issues that kept Joseph’s leadership on track for long term, even building a lead- ership legacy. There are other internal issues of character development as well, including perseverance as a key to character development and over- coming opposition. Included in these internal issues would be the issue of being blameless or not easily accused of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the list goes on, including overcoming the motive of greed and self-focus and it even enters the area of proper attitude. This focuses on the need that is seen in many of these leaders’ lives for proper preparation for leadership. Even the ideal leader of the suffering servant in Isaiah is the ultimate ser- vant leader; yet, suffering is part of this process for him. It is more than learning right behaviors and responses; it is developing a foundation for this servant leadership built on virtues and results in serving others. Leadership is seen as ontological in nature in that it proceeds from the being of the leader not just the doing or the saying of the leader. How is this accomplished? The Scripture helps at this juncture as well through story and direct teaching. In learning to deal properly with hardship and suffering, the leader develops perseverance, which produces character, hope and even love is shed through the person in this process. It is not that leaders need to seek suffering; there is plenty out here already. However, the leader must learn to persevere instead of become a victim through bitterness. This is part of the learning process for servant leaders to prepare them to lead from the heart. There is a further issue of learning as the leader is transformed by renewing of the mind. This involves infor- mation, but it also involves growth through knowing and experiencing

S. Crowther


more of the knowledge of the Lord, knowledge of life, and even knowl- edge of how to lead. The mind is part of the soul that needs transforma- tion as well; it needs change, and it cannot just be left to circumstantial experience. This is the first nuance.

When the issue of love comes up, everyone has their own definition. The Scripture must be able to define love as it is used in the text. It is not just any definition that comes from the latest movie or book. The key to love is developing godly character. Love without character is a beginning but love can only fully express itself through good character since love is the ulti- mate in other orientation. However, love has no follow-through power without good character and the ability to overcome self-focus. This is found in the Scripture as well in that the enemy of servant leadership is self-focus and self-exaltation. In servant leadership, one is looking for that natural desire to serve, according to Greenleaf (2002). However, what if that natu- ral desire is not there? Does that mean that servant leadership is only lim- ited to those with this natural desire? No, of course not, but it asks the question of whether this heart concept can be developed. According to this study, it can be developed; in fact, it is assumed that this way of leading will be developed by the leaders in Scripture. The power of servant leadership is found in love but character must be developed to support this power of love. This concept of love from the Scripture must be addressed from Scripture for a proper understanding of this foundational concept for effec- tive leadership. This issue will be addressed later in this study.

Moses was a good example of a servant leaders and his humility resulted in not only an ability to work with others but also the ability to empower others through delegation and developing other leaders. He gave power away to thousands of other leaders. Part of his leader- ship journey was that he was living out a call from God and he was helping others lead and find their calling as well. Leaders develop a sense of purpose through their own calling and help others by empow- ering them not only by giving power away but also by helping each find their purpose in their leadership. This is seen not only in the life of Moses but also in Esther, Peter, Paul, and other biblical leaders. Calling is a biblical concept but everyone has a sense of calling or a desire for purpose and this sense of something bigger is in all human

Biblical Servant Leadership


hearts. This issue of calling was important in biblical leaders but it is important for leaders today as well. Servant leaders find their call in leading and help others find their call as well. This is part of the focus on and care for others.

Particularly in the Old Testament, God is seen as the ultimate leader. His leadership brings the picture of the shepherd leader to the discussion in that He was the ultimate shepherd leader but he called His leaders to be shepherd leaders as well. Is shepherd leadership different than servant leadership? They both share a focus on others. In shepherd leadership, the leader is called the servant of the Lord but in serving the Lord the shep- herd serves people. These shepherd leaders are called upon to feed the sheep, to care for them, to heal them, and to gather them. In other words, much like servant leaders, shepherd leaders are called to focus on follow- ers and to overcome self-focus. However, there is a further development for shepherd leaders in the instruction to guide the people as well. This guide would include giving instructions and direction. This would be more of a focus on the future for the followers as to direction for them and for the nation or for the mission of the organization. Is there guid- ance in servant leadership? It could be implied but it is not explicit. It is possible that biblical servant leadership would include more direction from the leader for the individual and for the group.

One of the issues of servant leadership found is that of a search for wisdom in being able to discern right from wrong in serving the people. This is wisdom with practical applications and today it would be called ethics. However, it is not just business ethics with its cultural contingen- cies; it is biblical ethics in the ability to know the difference between right and wrong and to use that wisdom in a proper way. This is the issue that got the human race in trouble in the beginning when Adam and Eve bit the forbidden fruit believing they would be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). That ability to know the difference has been distorted since that moment and humans are still working it out. So, to do this well, the leader needs good ethical biblical wisdom in the ability to know right from wrong. Some would think that this goes without needing to be mentioned but this is not true. Ethics can no longer be an adjunct to leadership; it must become part of the models and it can begin with bibli- cal servant leadership.

S. Crowther


In leadership and in leadership development, the Lord shows concern for leadership legacy and developing successors in leadership. This was the failure of Gideon and part of the success of Moses. Moses’ successor, Joshua, carried on in leading Israel for another 40 years after the death of Moses. This developed stability in the people as individuals and in the nation of Israel. Servant leaders tend to develop other servant leaders and even develop servant leadership in whole organizations. Nevertheless, there needs to be a future focus as well on developing successor leaders. Included in this is that servant leadership needs to be intentional in developing servant leaders, helping others find the path to effective lead- ership through serving as is found in the Levites of Israel and as was failed by Elisha’s servant.

Jesus becomes the ultimate servant leader and he endorses becoming great through becoming a servant. With Jesus it is more than serving— it is becoming a servant, it is ontological, it involves who one becomes as a person. Then leadership proceeds from the person of the leader. He even models servant leadership in foot washing and calls his disciples to deeper levels of leading by giving up their lives in the leading and shep- herding, caring for others. Jesus chooses a path of no reputation rather than grasping what is His and His obedience is even to death. He calls his disciples to become this kind of leader in following his example. Even Paul later tells the leaders to have this same attitude as Christ. It is attitude, but it is also in giving up prestige and honor for the sake of serving others. This is a profound serving position. This model becomes deeply personal based upon internal issues of motive and desire. The constant exhortation to leaders is for them to overcome greed, self- focus, and self-exaltation. This way of servant leading is the heart of that call. The instruction to shepherd and serve was given to leaders and they mostly failed however; Jesus came and not only taught but lived the model of servant leadership. This model though involves the trans- formation of the very deep recesses of the human soul. However, can this be done in the present context of contemporary life and leadership? Yes, it can. This nuance is that servant leadership must become onto- logical to be able to be the profound servant leadership in the biblical model of Jesus.

Biblical Servant Leadership


When Jesus sends his followers to lead and disciple others, he does it based on his authority. Here, in Jesus is seen the proper use of and submission to authority. In several places in both Old and New Testaments, the leaders are told not to domineer in the use of authority. Proper use of authority is an issue for biblical leadership however; it does not appear in servant leadership. The proper use of authority for guidance and encouragement instead of for dominance and fear needs to be addressed in the model of leadership. Power is always an issue in leader- ship and teaching even servants how to use it well can be important. Stewards as found in 1 Peter 4 were lead servants. They had to learn to use authority properly since it was delegated authority. However, the only one with pure undelegated power is the Lord and all other power is del- egated. Some of the issues of power are implied and discussed in servant leadership nevertheless; a biblical nuance would be to add a segment with insights for the proper use of authority.

Along with proper use of authority is the issue of gifts given to each person. In Scripture, these are called spiritual gifts and they come from God but everyone has differing gifts even natural gifts. These gifts help the leader do well and even excel at leading. The key here is for the leaders to find the gifts given to them and use them well; even finding ways for them to grow while helping others find their gifts. The key is to do this with humility and not self-proclamation. The servant leader serves others by helping them find and develop both calling and gifting.

Finally, Paul instructs leaders to have the goal of bringing maturity in the followers so they can serve others as well. The goal is multiplication. He then gives Timothy strict instructions on developing leaders. These leaders must be blameless with self-control and integrity. The leader must use authority with care and must be mature with humility with a good reputation. These all fit within the purview of servant leadership as nuanced by Scripture. However, Paul goes on to teach that this leader must be able to overcome strategies of the enemy and develop proper strategies. Does this fit or is it a question for another chapter? This is a question that moves beyond expansion and critique of servant leadership to another chapter. This research yields concepts from Scripture for a nuanced model for biblical servant leadership.

S. Crowther


Biblical Love in Leadership

Before moving on to discuss this model of leadership, the issue of biblical love in leadership needs to be developed. New ideas for leadership have been emerging in the twenty-first century. Some of these ideas include concepts of humility, spirituality, and even love. Each of these are impor- tant concepts for effective leadership and each needs to be developed from a biblical perspective for biblical leadership. Nevertheless, the issue for the moment is that of love in leadership. This is clearly seen as an issue for leaders in a biblical context. However, the question remains as to what this kind of biblical love looks like and how it interacts with leadership issues and development.

Scripture describes and demonstrates the concept of love in many dif- ferent ways and contexts. Sometimes the love of God is contrasted with human love as in Romans 5:6–8, where human love could barely give of self for a good person or cause, while divine love gives in Christ giving of self for sinners. God’s love is so much greater than human love that it can only be contrasted not compared to human love. This love is powerful in God sending His Son. This love is seen in the life and ministry of Jesus as well. He saw the people as sheep without a shepherd. He saw those that needed help and healing and was moved with compassion like in the case of the widow of Nain in Luke 7 where He had compassion on her and raised her son from the dead. This is the demonstration of love but how can love be described, what are its biblical attributes?

Paul addresses this issue in the ultimate section of love in Scripture in 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter is written in the context of Paul explaining and endorsing spiritual gifts in the previous chapter including supernatu- ral gifts such as healing and leadership gifts such as apostles, prophets, and teachers. Paul here is not calling the love the supreme gift, but rather the way of life for Christ’s agent, it is the norm and the guide for the exercise of all gifts (Witherington, 1995). This is the standard for the life and min- istry of all believers and it is the standard for those who lead as well.

There are four sections here in this chapter that focuses on love. The first section speaks of the futility of different gifts without love in their application. The second section describes love in both negative and positive

Biblical Servant Leadership


c oncepts. The third section contrasts love with different gifts and the final section displays the greatness of love. It is as if Paul is stretching his rhetori- cal skills in multiple ways to give a full understanding of this concept of love since it is so central to life. He uses the tools of rhetorical arguments, of contrast as well as comparison and even the tools of poetic description in describing love. This is such an important concept and yet one that is so easily misunderstood and manipulated for self-gain that it needs a full- orbed explanation. Commentators have long noticed the more elevated and almost poetic style of this chapter, it is a rhetorical and deliberative piece in exalting love and it is about love as the modus operandi of all gifts (Witherington, 1995). Therefore, this pericope becomes an important component in understanding love in leadership. What’s love got to do with it? It has everything to do with servant and biblical leadership in that it is the root and foundation to these models of leadership.

In this section, there are several rhetorical devices that are thickly tex- tured. A few of them will be examined here in this study. There are several issues of Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation in the area of inner texture in this pericope. There is repetitive texture with a focus on the word “love.” There is an open-middle-closing texture that begins with showing love as a necessary foundation for the gifts then moving through the middle of describing love in several ways then in the closing of the praise of love as the preeminent issue of life and the use of the gifts including the gifts of leadership. This brings the question to the front as to how leadership is a gift or involves gifts. However, for the moment the focus is on this foun- dation of love for leadership. In addition, there is a progressive texture moving from seeing love as necessary to the understanding of love finally to the revelation that love is the greatest attribute in life and by implica- tion in leadership.

There are three statements about the gifts without love. Then there are seven positive statements about love and eight negative statements show- ing the contrast of love in the opposite of love. Each of these attributes is also seen in other texts of Scripture either by example or explanation (Fisk, 2000). Love is then compared to three gifts of prophesy, tongues, and the gift of knowledge. Finally, love is compared to the two important issues of faith and hope while being declared greater than these other two important issues.

S. Crowther


In the midst of these rhetorical devices, it is found that this chapter on love is a central issue in 1 Corinthians overall since it is the center of a chiastic structure. This chiastic structure begins in Chap. 11 and ends in Chap. 14 with Chap. 13 being the focal point in the center of the struc- ture as a hymn to love (Bailey, 2011). In the midst of this chiastic struc- ture, the section on love has a further chiastic structure. It is a chiasm in a chiasm. A chiastic structure is a rhetorical device with a certain form that focuses on the middle of the information in the structure but it is recognized and developed by a certain form or style. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 13 section a is in 13:1–3 on love and spiritual gifts, b is love defined positively in 13:4a, c is love defined negatively in 13:4b–13:6, b’ is love defined positively and a’ is love and spiritual gifts (Bailey, 2011). The two “a” sections are about similar issues and the two “b” sections are about similar issues and the “c” section stands alone. The focus is on the middle. The focus here is the description or even the definition of love. Love is primary for Paul because it has already been given concrete expres- sion in the coming of Jesus Christ to die for the sins of the world, love is more than an idea because love is an act and this is the way the gifts are to function and this is how love functions in building the community (Fee, 2014). Love as found in 1 Corinthians is a heart issue but it is an issue that finds its way to action in building others and in building the group or the community.

First in interpretation it is important to notice the word here used for love. Paul uses the verb agapao here, but the contemporary Greek lan- guage used two other words for love: one was for passionate love and the other for the description of friendship (Bailey, 2011). This clear defini- tion of godly love needed a new platform. This new word was a rare word from classical Greek having to do with “inclining toward,” but Paul and other writers of Scripture filled it with meaning (Bailey, 2011). 1 Corinthians 13 is one of those places that fills this word with new mean- ing. The first three verses describe gifts being used without love and this then is an empty even a useless endeavor. Then the text moves on rapidly to give definition to this special word for love.

The positive descriptions of definition for love open and close this sec- tion with the negatives in the middle and the center is split with the single line: “not seeking what is for itself ” which reflects the issue of the homily

Biblical Servant Leadership


(Bailey, 2011). This pericope has a series of 15 verbs in describing love and this passage easily transcends the immediate situation giving it universal appeal (Fee, 2014). Remember this Greek word used here is a verb and 15 verbs are used to describe and define it. This is significant in that this issue of the heart is turned into action in this kind of love. The first two qualities are patience and kindness. This represents love’s active and passive responses toward others, the first is to forbear with others and the second is to extend mercy through kindness (Fee, 2014). The text then turns to issues that are not actions of love. It is possible that these are expressions of how to be patient and kind with others. Notice the first section is that love is something then the next section describes what love does not do to others. It could be read that love is kind and patient and the way this love is expressed is by not being jealous, boastful, arrogant (or proud), rude, self-seeking, easily provoked (or angered) or the one who keeps track of wrongs. Love can absorb evil, love manages to erase the ledger of wrongs suffered (Bailey, 2011). Then finally, this love does not rejoice in unrigh- teousness or evil but then the list turns positive again.

In the positive list, this list begins with love rejoicing with truth. Notice the contrast here is between evil and truth, not evil and goodness. So, how is truth the opposite of evil? Here Paul is reflecting the character of God which is to be displayed by His people and such a person refuses to take delight in evil and takes delight in victories, in mercy and justice even for those with whom one disagrees (Fee, 2014). This rejoicing in truth will help the person bear or cover all things. One way to translate this section is that love covers all things or protects all and because you cover others then you are trustworthy (Bailey, 2011). People need others they can trust to cover them and bear with them in all different circum- stances, this is love. Then love believes all things hopes all things and ultimately endures all things. This is the character of love to “put up” with everything, love has a tenacity in the present, buoyed by its absolute con- fidence in the future that enables it to pour itself out in behalf of others and in essence love never loses hope (Fee, 2014). Love is a powerful force that can overcome evil and even suffering and it has some basic attributes of godly character. Love moves past a heart issue to a heart issue that has powerful actions in both positive ways toward others and in negative ways in issues that are avoided.

S. Crowther


Then love is contrasted with different gifts and shown to be more effective and resilient even than gifts that are divinely given to individuals. Gifts and talents are not the best part of the person. Love that results in real actions and in real self-control is the best part of the person and of the leader as well. Then finally, love is considered with two other eternal and foundational issues in that of faith and hope. All three are eternal issues. However, faith will become sight in eternity and hope will become fulfilled but love remains. The greatest is love. This is not just greatness for the future, but it is greatness for the present. Having affirmed that love is the highest of all, Paul urges his readers to “run after love” in 1 Corinthians 14:1 (Bailey, 2011).

Love that is biblical is filled with meaning and very specific issues of action and attitude. These issues cannot be arbitrarily changed by culture or society. Society and leaders can learn from this description of divine love or agapao to be able to love well even in the midst of cultural ambiguity and change. Love is a powerful force that is patient and kind. This love is not self-seeking and yet manifests in overcoming these human tendencies toward pride, jealousy, rudeness, and keeping track of wrongs. Love absorbs evil and has a capacity to put up with things and people that are difficult and this love is able to pour itself out for the sake of others following the example of Jesus Christ who came and demonstrated true, deep, real love. This is the foundation for biblical servant leadership. Run after love.

The Difference and the Cohesion in the Servant Leadership Models

There are several concepts that need attention in their connections between servant leadership  and the teachings of Scripture. These are issues like humility, love, self-issues, confidence as well as issues of ontology and how to teach servant leadership. Granted there are differ- ences in some of the models of servant leadership; however, in examining the Scriptures there are ways to bring cohesion from a divine perspective on leadership. The way forward is to continue to critique these models in light of the overarching teaching of Scriptures on this issue. In this place is found that servant leadership is a virtuous theory with several aspects of leadership that proceed from this foundation.

Biblical Servant Leadership


Moving from Concept to Application

However, the biblical concept goes deeper to issues of character and for- mation. The concept of godly character becomes the root from which the virtues and other centeredness spring. In overcoming conflicts and differ- ences, there is also the issue of definitions. He who writes the definitions wins the argument. For instance, love is defined in so many diverse ways and applied in some bizarre ways. Therefore, the definitions must have divine roots as found in Scripture and this must be done carefully to overcome existing biases in the researcher. How can this model be applied? It must be applied ontologically. In other words, ways must be found in leadership development in this model that the person is changed in the area of the soul. Part of this change comes from spiritual formation and addressing the issues of the soul. This is very personal and individual but it can be done. Character can even be developed as leaders learn to deal well with difficulties and learn the secret of perseverance. However, the issue is whether the model as found in Scripture is servant leadership or some other more biblical model of leadership. In Scripture, there is found a more robust model that includes issues of serving but moves beyond servant leadership as found in the contemporary models.

The biblical model for servant leadership is a very detailed model; however, it can clearly be shown in stages. The preparation stage or the pre-leadership stage involves developing the internal issues of character, forgiveness, and integrity along with the other internal issues that relate to this deep soul development through an understanding of suffering and developing a proper worldview. Then the foundation is further developed by love, matured by character that fits within the parameters of biblical love. Then these work together in developing an ontological change from transformation of the soul in becoming a servant, which is more than serving. The how of this development can vary with the experience or trajectory of the person but it is a transformative world that involves renewing of the mind and soul that brings internal real second order change. First, order change just changes externals like moving the furni- ture around in a room. Second, order change is deep real change like rebuilding the room in the house.

S. Crowther


The second stage is the leadership stage itself where the person is a leader on some level. In addition, this would be where these attributes form the internal work would grow and mature in the leader. There is one aspect that bridges the gap between the first and second stage in that of calling. The calling of a leader begins in the preparation stage as part of this process in stage 1. However, this calling spans into the second stage as the person begins to lead based in calling and purpose. Calling helps to set the trajectory for where the leader is going to lead as well as sets the stage for the other virtues and attributes in leading. Knowing personal calling helps the leader lead with security and in helping others find calling as well. This becomes part of the vision aspect in servant leadership in vision and development for the followers. Then as in the virtue theory of servant leadership, love is the first virtue or the founda- tional virtue. From this virtue flows two streams into more virtues and also several attributes that then fully develop service. In the virtue stream are humility and altruism which develop vision for the follower and trust giving way for empowerment to others and ultimately service. Then in the attributes stream from love flows proper use of authority and guidance, proper use of gifts, and proper use of ethics or wisdom. These attributes then lead to empowerment of others and service. Together these streams of virtues and attributes come together in empowerment and service of others.

There is a final or a third stage. This stage begins during the second stage but becomes well developed toward the end of the second stage. This is the development of a legacy of leadership. The leader trains and equips other leaders as part of the organizational and servant leadership process during the entire second stage. This is part of the proper use of authority, guidance, and gifts. Nevertheless, the leader must develop other leaders who can replace or improve upon her/his present leadership. Success is having a successor as seen in Moses and Joshua, so it is with all leaders. This stage can take many forms but it only comes to full fruition once the leader has moved on to other areas of life or leadership. These three stages come together to form a robust model for biblical servant leadership which can be seen in Fig. 7.1.

Biblical Servant Leadership


Application in the Business World

This concept of leadership can then be applied in the business world like the original model was applied at AT&T. As Christians learn to be ser- vant leaders and lead in this way in the context of the world of business with results it will bring attention to this way of leading. Biblical servant leadership is a construct of leadership that concerns the internal motive issues of leadership. This type of leadership can be used in diverse organi- zational contexts whether church, business, education, or government. The core components are internal yet manifest in certain leadership func- tions. These leadership functions can be done as a result of a leader’s job description but this misses the point of biblical servant leadership. Biblical servant leadership is driven by purpose as revealed and delegated through individuals. This type of leadership comes from calling, an ongoing encounter, and a life of love as developed with good character and a life of humility. The development for this type of leadership involves trans- formation through mind renewal and a new way of dealing with suffering of past, present, and future issues. Can these attributes be gained by those who are not Christians? These functions can be developed by all and God has destiny over people who are not believers. In addition, they can develop certain important internal qualities as well. This model can be

Stage 2 Stage 3

Humility Vision

LOVE Empowerment Service Legacy

Altruism Trust

Proper use of Authority Guidance Gifts Ethics


Stage 1 Foundation Calling Ontological development – servant – through suffering

Love matured by character Internal issues developed – character, forgiveness, integrity

Fig. 7.1 Biblical servant leadership

S. Crowther


used in the business world and other areas of leadership that are not in the church. It can be used among believers and those who are not follow- ers of Christ. However, the context of the church and Christian ministry provides a rich context for the development and application of this model of leadership where it can be lived out in real contexts of leadership.

Application in the Church World

Then in the church this needs to become an issue of leadership. Perhaps this model can provide a way of leading that overcomes the dark side of leadership which causes many leaders to fail. The dark side of leadership is when leaders become successful but are not prepared for success. The result is that this success pulls on the darker side of the human nature and this can even happen in servant leadership if the leader is not properly prepared for this rush of success. The leadership world has equipped and trained people and even organizations for success. However, this training normally does not include preparation in the soul of the leader for this desired result. Many are good at teaching leaders to succeed but not so good at preparing leaders how to handle success when it comes. This darker side of leadership is called toxic or narcissistic leadership and it happens often which then short circuits leaders and organizations. This concept of biblical servant leadership prepares the individual to succeed as a leader and prepares the person for that success when it comes. This occurs through developing humility and overcoming dangerous self- focus issues with a development of character that brings effective perse- verance in times of suffering and celebration. This is a custom model for the church where leadership development can include character develop- ment and other internal issues of development. It is a good way ahead for the church in leadership that imitates biblical models of leadership that are counterintuitive and countercultural but have been effective for over 4000  years. Four thousand years of effective leadership with all of its negatives and pitfalls shown in the human experience is quite an impor- tant heritage. In this way, the church could lead in leadership and not be simply the distant follower of culture and follow Jesus’ command not to lead as the world leads but lead as servant of all, like He did.

Biblical Servant Leadership



This study of many texts of Scripture reveals a certain divine perspective concerning leadership. This divine perspective unfolds over the centuries and becomes more explicit in the New Testament. Nevertheless, from the beginning, Scripture has discussed leadership in many contexts begin- ning with Adam and Eve and continuing with Jesus and the apostles through the Book of Revelation. This discussion of leadership has taken on many forms from examples to mandates to instructions even with rebukes at times for leaders who are to be biblical leaders. This model of biblical servant leadership is found to be multifaceted, complex, and yet robust and practical. This model can provide a way ahead for more research and for a development process for leadership training in biblical servant leadership that addresses internal issues, values and even impor- tant biblical leadership attributes with an eye on the future for the devel- opment of generational success in leadership.

There is more research needed in that there are many more examples and texts in Scripture that need to be examined then compared and con- trasted with current research. This research needs to include theological depth as well as an understanding of twenty-first-century cultural and leadership issues. There is still a journey ahead in this process in testing and developing this model for leadership and leadership development. Journeys like this are always filled with surprises, epiphanies, and pitfalls. However, it is the joy of the journey, discovery, and even of growth that adds great value to this journey. This intersection between Scripture and leadership is just such a journey, a joyful, fruitful journey with wonderful surprises and detours along the way. There is even more good news though, in that the journey itself is formational. The process changes us. We are those who dream of a better future. Let us see the vision of a better future for leadership and biblical leadership and then let us create this new future in our generation.

S. Crowther



Bailey, K.  E. (2011). Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Fee, G. D. (2014). The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Revised Edition (The New International Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Press.

Fisk, B. N. (2000). First Corinthians (Interpretation Bible Studies). Louisville, KY: Geneva Press.

Greenleaf, R. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Witherington, B. (1995). Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Press.

Biblical Servant Leadership

153© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7_8

8 A Call for Biblical Leadership

Existing Research on Biblical Leadership

In the context of leadership studies, there have been several examinations of biblical leadership from the analysis of different texts of Scripture. These studies have revealed a rich fabric of leadership principles for the present issue of a biblical model of leadership. Some of these studies have developed separate models of leadership, while others have found prin- ciples for leadership and even leadership development. These studies include exegetical studies like the study from Bekker (2006), while others are longitudinal qualitative studies that include an analysis of leaders in the biblical text like the work from Clinton (2012). In addition, there are dissertations on leadership as taught by Jesus, Paul, or Peter as well as works on leadership characteristics from Old Testament figures like King David (Serrano, 2017).


Moving on in Biblical Leadership

There is a great amount of insight to be gained from these existing stud- ies. Nevertheless, there is more to be gained from viewing these studies together for insights from convergence and distinction in these examina- tions of Scripture. Then, as was found in this study, there is more that can be gleaned from a close examination of the text to include issues of shep- herding and character. How could these principles be used in a contem- porary context? Are there any organizations that are using this way or concept of leading? These are important questions of application. There are several leadership principles here that can be located in a beginning model. This model would include issues like humility, the proper use of power, developing perseverance through suffering, developing character in life situations, steward leadership as well as servant leadership concepts.

In addition to these servant leadership components, there were also found in this study other important components of leadership that would expand into a biblical model of leadership that would include and inter- act with the biblical servant model of leadership or the other components found in the previous chapter. First among these components is the issue of vision. In servant leadership, the vision is for the followers but then there is a secondary goal for the organization and the community. However, in biblical leadership, as the study moves into the life of Jesus and the teachings of the New Testament, vision for the mission becomes very much a component of leadership in the life of Jesus and of Paul. This answers the question of vision in the servant leadership literature con- cerning organizational vision. The vision here in Scripture is vision for the mission that drives the organization. Jesus’ vision was to make disci- ples in all ethnic groups on the earth. He repeated this in several ways and in different contexts. This was not a lone vision but a shared vision as well with billions of followers through the ages with this same vision. The result is the building of the church throughout the centuries. The result of His vision is the church is built against all odds. This is leadership. This is similar to the concept to inspirational motivation of transformational leadership.

S. Crowther


The second component is that biblical leaders are encouraged to become models for others to follow in Hebrews 13:7. Then Paul and Jesus both use the mode of follow me in mentoring others for ministry resulting in legacy as mentioned in the last section. Peter even exhorts believers and leaders to “follow in His (exact) steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Nevertheless, it is also the way of leading in the present tense for biblical leaders as well. This modeling worked well for Jesus and Paul in multiply- ing leaders for the rapidly growing ministry and church. This is similar to idealized influence in transformational leadership.

In the third component is found a concept of developing strategy. This is found in Paul describing the qualifications of leaders when he includes a strategic portion in his description to Timothy. These qualified leaders must maintain a good reputation for those outside the church and to actively overcome the strategies set against them and develop proper strat- egies for the advance of the church. There is a strategic component here in two ways. One is overcoming problems and two is developing ways into the future for the expansion of the organization. Jesus in his leadership was helping the disciples and the nation to see old problems in a new way. He solved many puzzles and dilemmas for the disciples like how it was hard for the rich to get into the Kingdom. This was not a statement against wealthy people though it may be read this way through twenty-first-cen- tury cultural lenses. The problem for the disciples was they wrongly believed if one was rich, that person was blessed by God because they were closer to God. Conversely, if they were poor, they were far from God as evidenced by the lack of blessing. This is why they were astonished and responded to Jesus by saying, “Who can be saved” (Mark 10:26)? Yet Jesus was also challenging, pushing them to new ideas like the need for new wine skins in Mark 2:22 to receive the new wine of the gospel. The old wine skins were some of their old religious ways and these had to change to move forward with the Lord. Jesus was a problem solver and an innova- tor. This is similar intellectual stimulation in transformational leadership.

The fourth element of transformational leadership is individualized consideration, but this is clearly present in all of the discussions in Scripture concerning servant and shepherd leadership. However, there is a fourth component clearly present in both Old and New Testaments that ground biblical leadership in spirituality. Spiritual formation is

A Call for Biblical Leadership


important and found in the practical aspect in the development of the internal issues of the person as found in the previous section. There is more though. Moses, Gideon, even Samson, Jesus, and Paul all had these personal encounters with the Lord that were very pivotal and real. This type of connection to the Lord continued through their lives and it mani- fest in issues like being able to change even in difficult situations but more than that it manifest in faith. It manifest in an attitude of confi- dence in God, an adjusted attitude of self-efficacy. In the purpose of God this can be accomplished was the attitude of each of these leaders and others as well. This gave these leaders the proper balance between confi- dence and humility. This is a difficult characteristic to develop in that it can become either arrogance or negligence. Arrogance in being overcome with pride and negligence in becoming inactive waiting for something to happen. The balance is confident humility.

This develops a robust model for biblical leadership. This model fol- lows the biblical servant leadership model with three stages but with these additions mentioned above and some other aspects of Christian spiritual- ity in both the foundation and the process of leadership in stages 1 and 2. The first two aspects of spirituality would be established in the founda- tion or stage 1. This is a robust faith and connection to and encounter with the Lord. This is found in leaders from Old to New Testaments and is of primary importance. Without faith and trust in God that others can imitate biblical leadership loses its vitality. This faith in the Lord Jesus Christ manifests in many externals but it is an internal foundational issue first and helps to develop the other important foundational internal issues. The second foundational issue found in many biblical leaders is that they were each servants to the Lord first before they were servants to the people. The biblical leader must develop an attitude like that of Jesus Christ Himself of being a servant to God first. In addition, in the foun- dational phase, there is the issue of learning to manage the family well, in learning to lead with authority in a proper way. The final addition is found in the process of leadership as found in stage 2. In biblical leader- ship, the goal or the end or the teleology of leadership is not just for ser- vice to others nor to meet the goals of the mission. The ultimate goal of biblical leadership is to bring glory to God. This means to not only bring honor to God in all that is done and even to look for ways to honor God,

S. Crowther


but it also means to bring clarity to who God is and how He interacts with people. The biblical leader is to lead with the glory of God as the motive and goal in all of the processes of being and doing. The word “glory” describes the superlative honor that should be given to God by everything in the universe and it can also be the created brightness that surrounds God’s revelation of Himself (Grudem, 1994). These are two definitions of the glory of God but can be seen together in that giving honor to God helps humans see this revelation of God. This then is the motive to bring honor to God and in the process help people grasp more fully the revelation of God. This glory of God is the manifestation of the excellence of God’s character and greatness of being which we cannot fully comprehend, but we can stand in awe and worship (Grudem, 1994). Love in leadership then is not only the motive it is the goal in showing others about God’s real love and care for people. This biblical model for leadership can be seen in Fig. 8.1.

Stage 3


Stage 2

Glory to God

Humility Vision

LOVE Empowerment Service

Altruism Trust

Proper use of Authority Guidance Gifts & Ethics Strategy

Vision for mission


Stage 1 Foundation Learning to manage family well Calling Ontological development – through suffering

Love matured by character Internal issues developed – character, forgiveness, integrity Faith in the Lord – Connections to God, Servant of the Lord first

Fig. 8.1 Biblical leadership

A Call for Biblical Leadership


In this model, the process of leadership develops in the overall areas of glory to God, service to others, and strategic futures for the mission. This model could then be used for leadership development in these specific areas of life and leading.

Application of Biblical Leadership

This way of leading could be developed over time using mentoring con- cepts. Concerning leadership outcomes, many declare mentoring a proven method for developing people for leadership (Goleman, Boyatzis, & Mckee, 2002; Malpurs, 1999; Noe, 1999). Mentoring has positive effects for leadership development for individuals including ministers. O’Daniel (2005) found that a great majority (89%) of the ministers sur- veyed in the UPCI (United Pentecostal Church International) said they would not be in leadership and ministry if it had not been for their men- tors. Mentoring is an important method for training as found in the Scriptures. A survey of biblical figures and Christian leaders underscores the conclusion that one of the major influences in developing a leader is a person or persons who have something to share that the leader needs, a mentor (Stanley & Clinton, 1992). Some biblical examples of this are Moses mentoring Joshua, Barnabas mentoring Paul, and then Paul men- toring Timothy. Mentors were important for leadership development in the church in its early form. Mentors are also important for the develop- ment of ministers for leadership in the modern context. Mentoring research has shown mentoring to be influential in developing leaders, and research in a large energy company found that leaders with significant levels of leadership strengths attributed their development to mentoring early in their careers (O’Daniel, 2005). According to Stanley and Clinton (1992), one of the important factors of leaders who finished well and continued in the learning and growth process was that of having several important mentors during their lifetime.

Many of these concepts for leadership have been used in Manna Church. This church has developed its own leadership pipeline with these issues of leadership in the heart of the training. This is one of the 100 largest and fastest-growing churches in the United States and was founded

S. Crowther


in the 1970s but has not undergone leadership change due to failure of the leader. Many of the leaders are trained within the context of the orga- nization. Then the organization works with a college in further develop- ing these potential leaders in the areas of theology, life, and leadership. The application of biblical leadership can be done in this contemporary context though it will need to be done intentionally with careful consid- eration for proper development and with the understanding that in some ways it will be countercultural. This is a multilevel robust yet complex model for leadership. Nevertheless, it is biblical in nature and is a long process of preparation and it is living in leadership. The person becomes a leader with complex issues at work both internally and externally addressing the issues of Christian spirituality, self, motive, and the proper use of divergent areas such as authority and ethics. This complexity makes it difficult to conceptualize but not impossible. This complexity makes it even harder to do this way of leading but not impossible. With the proper vision for biblical leadership, it can not only be accomplished but it can grow and prosper in different areas beginning in the church and different ministries. It can also be taken into the business world as Christian lead- ers adopt this for themselves and then become leaders in many diverse business, education, and government organizations. In this way, we can see leadership from the divine perspective. In this way, we can develop Christian leadership to be able to lead in the leadership world. The way into the future for this way of leadership is for leaders in the church to begin to live this model then to set forth the example for the next genera- tion of leaders in colleges and churches as well as in businesses. This is a process and not an immediate solution and it is costly on a personal level, but it is the way into the future for the church as the leaders follow Jesus’ example of leading the church and teaching others to lead.

Biblical Leadership: Pioneers or Settlers

In the search for a biblical model of leadership, the material for research is vast and this study is not the conclusion of the matter; it is simply part of a very long journey of discovery and adaptation to the new concepts. In this search, there are issues that come to the surface that are not

A Call for Biblical Leadership


addressed in leadership or ethical theories yet and need some discussion and study. One of these areas is found in the diversity of leaders in both the Old and New Testaments. This is not about the diversity of their cultural heritage or their connection to the tribal system of Israel. It is more about the kind or type of leaders and how they lead. It is about leadership but it is not about a model of leadership or the culture that is set by leadership or even the climate of a group in response to a leader or leaders. It is related more to the ontology of the leaders and who the lead- ers are not just in person or style but who they are in motivation and how they lead. This can be seen in Scripture in the different leaders and how they lead. Paul begins to explain this concept in 1 Corinthians. In chapter 3, Paul is discussing his ministry and the ministry of Apollos in connec- tion to the Corinthians. In verse 5, he calls both of them servants through whom they believed. Paul and Apollos were both servants of the Lord and servant leaders to the Corinthians. Yet there was a difference. This differ- ence actually was causing a division in the church. The people in the church were forming factions or siding with certain leaders against each other. Neither Paul nor Apollos were developing or endorsing this divi- sion but it was happening around them and their different leadership styles. This was not a difference in leadership models like a difference between transformational and servant leadership. Paul would have solved this issue differently. Instead, this was an issue in how they led differently and Paul addresses this issue directly.

Paul tells the Corinthians in chapter 3 verse 6 that he had planted and Apollos watered but it was God who gave the increase. Paul and Apollos had different aspects of leadership in the church but both were needed and both had value though this should not bring division. In this section of Scripture in chapter 3 verses 5 through 9, there are several repetitions of inner texture as well as a progressive texture. The repetitions include words like “God,” “Paul,” and “Apollos,” “watered” and “planted.” Then the progressive texture begins in verse 5 by asking the question of the identity of Paul and Apollos and ends with giving a definitive answer in verse 9. The progression begins by describing both Paul and Apollos as servants, then in the next section, it tells what they do through the anal- ogy of farming, then it moves in the third section focusing on God as the source and finally in the last section unity is the issue and both types of

S. Crowther


these leaders are needed to establish God’s field (Bailey, 2011). These servant leaders have an important and special but different function with the purpose of building God’s field, his church. It is the Lord who makes it work. They are equal and important but different. Does this difference matter? It does matter.

Paul then changes the metaphor to that of a building in verse 9 and he describes the work that he does as the one who lays the foundation of the building and then others (like Apollos) need to come and build upon that foundation. The farm or the building must be built well, and it takes spe- cialists who are experts to build well. It is God working through them but you need a wise master builder to lay the foundation. Paul is the expert at laying the foundation. Apollos is the expert at finishing the building. There are those like Paul that lay a good foundation; these are wise build- ers that build the proper foundation. This word indicates that this person is both architect and chief engineer and Paul says this is according to the grace or gift given to him, this is a specific grace for this purpose of build- ing the foundation of churches (Fee, 2014). Then there are those like Apollos and others who build on this foundation and the exhortation is to build properly. There are at least two areas seen here of a specific leadership area that transcends models of leadership. Some leaders plant and others water. There is no conflict or competition here between Apollos and Paul though there was between the Corinthian believers. This was the purpose of Paul’s exhortation first to correct the Corinthians way of thinking about leaders. Paul and Apollos were not contrary to one another as servant lead- ers. They worked together in tandem to build the field of the Lord. However, there were others who tried to build on the foundation that Paul laid but unlike Apollos they were building incorrectly. The second reason for this exhortation was to instruct those who would lead in how to build correctly on the foundation.

Rather than foundation layers and builders, a more appropriate description would be pioneers and builders. Are there other examples of these different kinds of leaders in Scripture? This difference can be seen in James, the head of the church at Jerusalem as a builder, and Peter the pioneer, who established churches in many places even crossing cultural lines to do so. Timothy and Titus are sent and instructed by Paul to build where he had pioneered or planted. In addition, there are some who can

A Call for Biblical Leadership


fill both functions and roles but this is not the norm. Paul did not change to become the builder, he worked with builders. Nehemiah was one who was a pioneer, getting the wall started and completed and he was a builder as well in establishing order and growth in Jerusalem. C. Peter Wagner introduced the concept in his early church growth books about leaders who were pioneers or settlers. The pioneers were the innovators and the growth leaders, whereas the settlers did not do as well in church growth areas. However, this biblical concept moves beyond this concept in seeing both aspects of leadership as effective but different. Is this seen in the contemporary context of leadership? In the church world, there are many small churches that have stopped growing and have hovered between 70 and 150 people in the churches. Some churches are small due to demo- graphics but some possibly need a change from a pioneer leader to a builder leader. This could also be true in businesses and even nonprofits. Perkin and Abraham (2017) discuss a framework for business leaders that includes different types of leaders being pioneers, settlers, or town plan- ners. This is a similar concept based in the business world. Pioneers develop uncharted land, settlers build understanding and make some- thing useful for a larger audience, while town planners find ways to make things faster, better, and more efficient (Perkin & Abraham, 2017). It is possible that these town planners are really builders since builders includes more than the concept of settlers. In this scenario, builders would include both settlers and town planners.

How does this work? The pattern seen in Scripture is that the pioneer goes in and establishes the foundation but he/she also takes several others on that same team. Paul traveled with teams of over 20 people at times during his ministry. In addition, he was consistently leaving or sending leaders to other areas for short or long periods of time. Then he would continue to instruct leaders through writings about how to lead and develop other leaders. Could pioneers become builders and builders become pioneers? This is possible. Possibly, this is what has been seen in the megachurch movement in the United States. Pioneers have learned to become builders as well. It is also possible that these teams at these churches have a good combination of pioneers and builders with each having enough authority to impact the organization. This is an area that needs further research. The business world has seen several rapid successes

S. Crowther


as well like Amazon or Airbnb. Airbnb is an example in that they own no real estate and they even rent their office space without owning it; yet, they have become a very successful organization. There are many more that could be added to this list like Google, Apple, and Uber. The leaders in these organizations have been able to pioneer and then convert to building rather rapidly. Is this just market forces? There is more here than market forces. It is about leadership.

Understanding this issue of pioneers and builders can bring forward momentum in all types of organizations from churches to schools to businesses. More research is needed both biblically and empirically. However, understanding these issues can bring help in the development of effective leaders for various contexts and callings. In addition, using this concept can help build teams that are very effective in pioneering and building quickly with insights from both the foundational perspective and the building perspective. It can help in the planning stages and of knowing when pioneer leaders are needed and when builder leaders are needed in the organization. Finally, with this understanding developed pioneers could possibly be trained to be builders and builders pioneers. In the early years of leadership theory, it was thought that effective leaders were just born with certain traits and very few could be changed. It would be a mistake to start this process over again concerning pioneers and builders without more research. This leadership concept could change the way business and even church is done and it could bring with it growth, success, and momentum that turns addition growth into multiply growth.


This is an opportunity for a new model of leadership that includes serving and concepts of servant leadership that is informed, critiqued, and expanded by concepts of biblical leadership. In addition, this concept of pioneers and builders working alongside of this model can create a context for more effective leaders on several levels of leadership bringing multiply- type growth to organizations and churches. Several models of leadership, including servant leadership, have served our organizations and our churches well. Nevertheless, there has been a dark side of leadership that

A Call for Biblical Leadership


seems difficult to overcome. This soft underside of leadership is found in success. When the leader succeeds, she/he can develop such a self-focus that Narcissistic leadership develops. This form of leading brings destruc- tion to the leader, follower, and the organization. Often the models of leadership do not include development in the internal areas of the person to overcome this narcissistic temptation. This issue in leadership is seen in all types of organizations from government, to business, to the church. The problem is that leadership studies view leadership externally from the results. This is a good beginning but leadership needs to also view the inside of leadership in the person of the leader. Scripture is uniquely quali- fied in this area since its first concern is the person who leads not just in leadership behaviors. Some models have begun to address this issue recently, but the Scripture gives keen insight into this area of life and lead- ership. This model of leadership includes several issues that are in the ser- vant leadership model. However, biblical leadership includes other issues as well from the Old Testament shepherd model of leadership that moves beyond the servant mode to the mode of caring direction. It would also include some of the broad issues of New Testament leadership that are transformational and yet include internal issues of character development as well. This is from the principles of leadership as found in both the Old and New Testaments and forms a new model that moves past servant lead- ership to biblical leadership. This is a model that is ethical, effective, spiri- tual, and adaptable that helps overcome the human temptation for corruption and self-indulgence.

Both the biblical servant model and the biblical model of leadership can help move leadership studies into the future especially in the area of leadership and its connection to the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. This move to a biblical foundation is both important and helpful in seeing leadership from a divine perspective. This is from an outside perspective that takes us out of the human research circle of being both the researcher and the researched. These models though complex and developed in stages can help the research in both biblical studies and leadership research. In addition, they can be developed as models upon which to build leadership development programs and leader education. The way into the future for the human race is effective good leadership.

S. Crowther


Our world is filled with divergent troubling issues and many of the solu- tions need effective, good leaders with a robust way of leading. Looking into the future, which can appear dark at times, is actually very bright. It is an opportunity for new ways of leading with new effective, good lead- ers to be developed  and  to rally many of the new effective leaders of the world to bring bright change into our world. In the church, there is a bright future. As the church faces opposition and trouble and even cul- tural rejection, this is an opportunity for good effective biblical leaders to rise to the surface in the church and ministries to lead in real advance for the Kingdom of God on the earth. These are dark times, these are good times. Frankly, these times inspire me and they should inspire you too.


Bailey, K.  E. (2011). Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Bekker, C.  J. (2006). The Philippians Hymn (2:5–11) as an Early Mimetic Christological Model of Christian Leadership in Roman Philippi. Paper pre- sented at the Servant Leadership Research Roundtable.

Clinton, J. R. (2012). The Making of a Leader. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress. Fee, G. D. (2014). The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Revised Edition (The New

International Commentary on the New Testament). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Press.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & Mckee, A. (2002). Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Grudem, W. (1994). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Malpurs, A. (1999). Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Noe, R.  A. (1999). Employee Training and Development. New  York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

O’Daniel, T. R. (2005). A Relationship Analysis Between Mentoring and Leadership Development Within the United Pentecostal Church International. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

A Call for Biblical Leadership


Perkin, N., & Abraham, P. (2017). Building the Agile Business Through Digital Transformation. New York, NY: Kogan Page.

Serrano, C. (2017). Leadership Fatigue: What New Leaders Can Learn from an Old King. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press.

Stanley, P. D., & Clinton, J. R. (1992). Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed in Life. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

S. Crowther

167© The Author(s) 2018 S. Crowther, Biblical Servant Leadership, Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89569-7

A Agapao, 5, 143, 145 Altruism, 5–7, 14, 26, 33, 52, 136, 147 Argumentative texture, 82, 108,

110, 113 Authority, 20, 32, 49, 50, 59, 68, 78,

80, 82, 83, 88, 89, 93, 101, 106, 121, 122, 140, 147, 156, 159, 162

B Biblical, xiv, xvi, 10, 17, 20, 23, 39,

53, 54, 70, 72, 88, 89, 97, 108, 113, 117, 122, 130, 131, 135–141, 145, 146, 149, 150, 153–159, 162, 164, 165

Blameless, 117, 123, 136, 140 Business, xiv, xvi, 2, 3, 9, 16–19, 23,

30, 138, 148–149, 159, 162–164

C Call(ing), 2, 6–9, 15, 18, 23, 25, 28,

33, 39, 40, 44–53, 56, 58, 59, 63, 65, 66, 70, 71, 81, 91, 100, 101, 106, 107, 111, 113, 117, 119, 120, 124, 125, 128, 129, 137–141, 147–149, 153–165

Character, xv, 6, 17, 26, 28, 29, 41–43, 48, 50, 71, 98, 99, 104–106, 108–110, 112, 113, 116, 119–123, 128, 130, 136, 137, 144, 146, 148, 149, 154, 157, 164

Chiasm, 66, 78, 79, 81, 91, 115, 143

Christian, xiii–xv, 9, 10, 17, 19–21, 50, 51, 62, 75, 98, 105, 107, 111, 113, 116, 124, 148, 149, 156, 158, 159


168 Index

Church, xvi, 2, 9, 15, 16, 18, 19, 23, 30, 34, 97–101, 106, 107, 111–114, 116–122, 124, 127, 148, 149, 154, 155, 158–165

Critique, 9, 34, 36, 39, 76, 93, 97, 131, 135, 140, 145, 163

Culture, xiv, 3, 8, 14, 16–18, 20–23, 28–30, 35, 76, 90, 92, 145, 149, 160

D Destructive, 130

E Effective, xiv, 2–4, 20, 21, 23,

28–29, 31, 35, 44, 49–51, 62, 63, 66, 69, 70, 104, 105, 109–112, 116, 118, 120, 123, 125, 127, 129, 130, 137, 139, 141, 145, 149, 162–165

Empowerment, 5, 26, 105, 147 Encounter, xvi, 44–51, 77, 110,

148, 156 Ethics, 4, 25, 28, 29, 35, 138,

147, 159 Example, xv, 18, 23, 34, 41–53, 57,

63, 75, 78, 84–87, 89–93, 97, 98, 100–104, 114–116, 118, 119, 125, 127, 137, 139, 142, 145, 150, 158, 159, 161, 163

Expansion, 23, 34, 42, 87, 97, 120, 131, 136, 140, 155

External, xv, 6, 30, 82, 91, 103, 108, 110, 119, 120, 130, 146, 156

F Faith, 64, 88, 107, 108, 124, 142,

145, 156 Family, 30, 43, 75, 118, 121, 122, 156 Forgiveness, 43, 136, 146 Future, 15, 34, 42, 43, 48, 54, 76,

105, 109, 111, 123, 131, 138, 139, 144, 145, 148, 150, 155, 158, 159, 164, 165

G Gentile, 51, 59, 78–81, 88, 98, 106 Gifts, 5, 16, 18, 50, 51, 82, 92, 105,

106, 109–114, 124, 140–143, 145, 147, 161

Global, 21–22 Great, 4, 6, 7, 15, 17, 21, 27, 33, 41,

42, 46, 61–64, 70, 72, 77–80, 85, 86, 88, 99, 100, 139, 150, 154, 158

Guidance, 9, 26, 138, 140, 147 Guiding, 87, 90

H Heart, 2, 7, 23, 25, 50, 53, 58, 59,

62, 66, 70, 77, 102, 104, 136–139, 143, 144, 158

Hermeneutics, xvi, 39 Hope, 2, 26, 43, 54, 61, 104, 109,

112, 127, 136, 142, 144, 145 Humility, 5–8, 14, 26, 33, 44, 45,

47, 49–52, 60, 62–64, 71, 90–92, 98, 99, 101–103, 105, 110–116, 121–124, 126, 128, 136, 137, 140, 141, 145, 147–149, 154, 156

169 Index

I Inductive Bible study, 40, 78 Inner texture, 40, 44, 66, 68, 78, 82,

84, 85, 87, 91, 101, 104, 117–119, 142, 160

Integrity, xv, 7, 42, 43, 50, 119, 120, 122, 123, 136, 140, 146

Internal, xv, 6, 7, 26, 28, 29, 31, 47, 49, 65, 71, 80, 91, 93, 106, 107, 110, 115, 116, 119, 120, 123, 125, 130, 135, 136, 139, 146–150, 156, 159, 164

Intertexture, 40, 86

J Jesus, xiii–xv, 3, 8, 19, 21, 23, 27,

29, 33, 41, 54, 72, 75–93, 97, 100–102, 111, 112, 114–116, 124–128, 135, 139–141, 143, 145, 149, 150, 153–156, 159

Joy, 18, 43, 150

L Leadership

authentic, xiii, 3, 127, 128 biblical, 39, 47, 50, 72, 88, 89,

93, 128, 130, 131, 140–142, 150, 153–165

biblical servant, 20, 54, 72, 83, 87, 93, 97, 128, 131, 135–150, 154, 156, 164

narcissistic, 128, 129, 149, 164 servant, xiii–xv, 1–10, 13–23,

25–36, 39–72, 75–93, 97–131, 135–140, 145–149, 154, 160, 161, 163, 164

transformational, xiv, 6, 13, 14, 19, 30, 31, 97, 127, 154, 155

Leadership development, xiv, xvi, 3, 4, 14, 28, 30–32

Love, 5–7, 16, 17, 26, 29, 33, 41, 84–87, 108–110, 112, 114, 117, 123, 124, 128, 136, 137, 141–148, 157

Luther, Martin, xiv, 15, 77, 108

M Machiavelli, N., xv, 1, 129 Manipulation, 130 Maturity, 16, 17, 114, 116, 122,

123, 140 Mission, 14, 18, 21, 26, 34, 46, 50,

82, 83, 93, 104, 106, 128, 138, 154, 156, 158

Moses, xiii, 44–51, 55, 59, 63, 70, 72, 89, 137, 139, 147, 156, 158

Motive, 7, 21, 25–27, 31, 85, 86, 90, 102, 103, 107, 115, 125, 126, 128, 130, 135, 136, 139, 148, 157, 159

N New Testament, xv, 9, 29, 41, 54,

62, 64, 72, 75, 97–131, 135, 140, 150, 154–156, 160, 164

O Old Testament, xv, 9, 39–72, 81,

86, 87, 101, 103, 125, 126, 135, 138, 140, 153, 155, 160, 164

Ontological, xv, 6, 27, 30, 80, 106, 116, 117, 128, 136, 139, 146

Overseer, 90, 115, 117–119

170 Index

P Paul, xiv, 43, 89, 90, 93, 97–100,

102–118, 137, 139–145, 153–156, 158, 160–162

Peter, xiv, xv, 84–87, 89–90, 92, 97, 100–104, 124–127, 137, 140, 153, 155, 161

Plato, 1 Power, 1, 25, 26, 32, 35, 49, 51, 52,

58, 60, 64, 65, 77, 88, 91, 92, 102, 105, 115, 125–127, 129, 130, 137, 140, 154

Prophet, 16, 54, 56–57, 61, 65–66, 68, 69, 86, 112, 113, 141

R Role model, 8, 28, 31–33, 75, 78,

99, 102, 115, 124

S Sacred texture, 40, 48, 49 Scripture(s), ix, xiii–xvi, 3, 6, 9, 10, 15,

16, 34–36, 39, 40, 44, 48, 59, 64, 71, 72, 79, 85, 88, 89, 91, 93, 97, 111, 114, 115, 135–137, 140–143, 145, 146, 150, 153–155, 158, 160–162, 164

Self-exaltation, 61, 62, 64, 65, 69, 72, 77, 137, 139

Self-focus, 21, 26, 43, 61–63, 65, 100, 105, 125, 136–139, 149, 164

Service, 5, 8, 14, 16, 18, 25–27, 33, 44, 51, 54–58, 71, 81, 83, 109, 114, 136, 147, 156, 158

Shepherd, 53–54, 56, 57, 61, 62, 66–69, 71, 72, 86, 87, 89, 90, 93, 101–104, 124–126, 138, 139, 141, 154, 155, 164

Social and cultural texture, 40, 92 Socio-rhetorical interpretation, 40,

48, 78, 86, 92, 142 Spiritual, xiii, xiv, 3, 46, 84, 88, 98,

103, 105, 107, 110, 112, 113, 118, 140, 141, 143, 146, 155, 164

Spirituality, xiii–xv, 3, 115, 141, 155, 156, 159

Strategy, 7, 63, 122, 123, 128, 140, 155

Success, 7, 28–30, 65, 70, 128–130, 139, 147, 149, 150, 162–164

Successor, 70, 139, 147 Suffering, 42, 43, 54–55, 71, 89,

90, 104, 105, 108, 109, 112, 113, 124, 136, 144, 146, 148, 149, 154

T Toxic, 128, 149 Trust, 5, 7, 8, 14, 26, 33, 136, 144,

147, 156

V Virtues/virtuous, 1, 3–8, 10, 14, 16,

26–29, 31–33, 35, 50, 52, 81, 93, 104, 113, 119, 120, 123, 129, 135, 136, 146, 147

Vision, 5–7, 14, 18, 26, 33–35, 42, 46, 50, 67, 76, 90, 99, 105, 127–129, 147, 150, 154, 159

W Wisdom, xv, 21, 30, 58, 70, 76,

138, 147

  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Introduction
  • 1: The Foundation of Servant Leadership Theory
    • Servant Leadership According to Greenleaf
    • Servant Leadership in Twenty-First-Century Literature
    • Servant Leadership According to Patterson and Winston
    • Servant Leadership Research
    • The Next Steps in Leadership
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • 2: Servant Leadership in Context
    • In the Context of Leadership Theory
    • In the Context of Followers
    • In the Context of the Business World
    • In the Context of the Church World
    • In the Global Context
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • 3: The Strengths of Servant Leadership
    • Values-Driven Leadership
    • Effective and Ethical Leadership
    • Servant Leadership and Organizational Culture
    • Servant Leadership and Leadership Development
    • The Goals of Servant Leadership
    • Servant Leadership and the Negative
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • 4: Servant Leadership in the Old Testament
    • Examples of Leaders in the Old Testament
      • Genesis: Joseph
      • Exodus 3 and 18: Moses
      • Esther 4–5: Esther
    • Instructions for Leaders in the Old Testament
    • God as the Model Leader in the Old Testament
    • Pictures of Leaders in the Old Testament
      • Shepherd: Kings, Priests, Elders
      • Suffering Servant: Isaiah 52–53
      • Levites
    • The Prophets as Servants: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah
    • The Texts of Servant Leadership in the Old Testament
      • 2 Sam. 17:27–29; 19:31–40; 1 Kings 2:7—Barzillai
      • 1 Kings 3: Solomon
      • Nehemiah
      • 1 Samuel: David and Saul
    • The Failure of Leadership in the Old Testament
      • Judges: Samson, Gideon
      • Prophets: Elisha’s Servant
      • Shepherds Who Failed Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 34
      • The Failure of Moses
    • Servant Leadership or Shepherd Leadership
    • Leadership Lessons from the Old Testament
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • 5: Servant Leadership in the Life of Jesus
    • Instructions About Serving
      • Mark 10
      • Matthew 28
      • John 13, John 21
      • Luke 7
    • Jesus as the Example of Servant Leadership
      • 1 Peter 2
      • Phil 2
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • 6: Leadership in the New Testament
    • Servant Leadership in the Book of Acts
      • Barnabas
      • Aeneas
      • Priscilla and Aquila
      • Peter as the Servant Leader
      • Instructions to Leaders
    • Servant Leadership in the Epistles
      • Romans and Corinthians
      • The Prison Epistles
      • The Pastoral Epistles
      • The General Epistles
      • Apocalyptic Servant Leadership
    • Other Leadership Issues and Models in the New Testament
    • Leadership Lessons from the New Testament
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • 7: Biblical Servant Leadership
    • Biblical Concepts for Servant Leadership
    • Biblical Love in Leadership
    • The Difference and the Cohesion in the Servant Leadership Models
    • Moving from Concept to Application
    • Application in the Business World
    • Application in the Church World
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • 8: A Call for Biblical Leadership
    • Existing Research on Biblical Leadership
    • Moving on in Biblical Leadership
    • Application of Biblical Leadership
    • Biblical Leadership: Pioneers or Settlers
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • Index


Contributors (in alphabetical order)

Cheryl Bachelder—former CEO of Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen, speaker, and author of the bestselling book Dare to Serve

Tony Baron—professor at Azusa Pacific University, speaker, and author of The Art of Servant Leadership and The Cross and the Towel

Colleen Barrett—president emeritus of Southwest Airlines and coauthor of Lead with LUV

Art Barter—CEO/president of Datron World Communications, founder/CEO of the Servant Leadership Institute, and author of Farmer Able and The Servant Leadership Journal

Richard Blackaby—president of Blackaby Ministries International, minister, speaker, and author or coauthor of numerous books, including Experiencing God and The Seasons of God

James H. Blanchard—former CEO of Synovus Financial, the first company to be inducted into Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For Hall of Fame

Ken Blanchard—chief spiritual officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies®, cofounder of the Lead Like Jesus ministry, and coauthor of The New One Minute Manager® and more than sixty other books Margie Blanchard— speaker, leadership consultant, coauthor of The One Minute Manager Balances Work and Life, and cofounder/former president of The Ken Blanchard Companies Robin Blanchard—Colonel (retired), Washington Army National Guard, speaker, facilitator/trainer, strategy consultant, and CEO of Blanchard Consulting

Renee Broadwell—senior editor on numerous book projects for Ken Blanchard and editor of communications and social media for The Ken Blanchard Companies

Brené Brown—researcher/storyteller, author of the bestsellers Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, and Daring Greatly, and widely recognized for her TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability”

John Hope Bryant—author of The Memo, How the Poor Can Save Capitalism,

and Love Leadership, and founder/chairman/CEO of Operation HOPE, Inc., and Bryant Group Ventures Shirley Bullard—chief administrative officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies and human resources expert

Michael C. Bush—CEO of Great Place to Work®, speaker, professor of entrepreneurship, and author of A Great Place to Work for All

Tamika Catchings—four-time All-American for University of Tennessee women’s basketball, ten-time WNBA All-Star and 2011 MVP, four-time Olympic gold medalist, owner of Tea’s Me Café, and author of Catch a Star

Henry Cloud—psychologist, leadership coach/consultant, and bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Boundaries and The Power of the Other

Stephen M. R. Covey—author of The Speed of Trust and Smart Trust and cofounder of CoveyLink and the FranklinCovey Global Speed of Trust Practice Holly Culhane—CEO/founder of Presence Point, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on helping people live into their calling as shepherd leaders, and leadership coach/consultant Jim Dittmar—president/CEO of 3Rivers Leadership Institute, leadership consultant, trainer, and coauthor of A Leadership Carol

James Ferrell—managing partner of Arbinger Institute and author or coauthor of its bestselling books Leadership and Self Deception, The Anatomy of Peace, and The Outward Mindset

Mark A. Floyd—speaker, entrepreneur, venture partner at TDF Ventures, and chairman at Ciber, Inc.

Jeffrey W. Foley—Brigadier General, U.S. Army (retired), president of Loral Mountain Solutions, LLC, speaker, leadership coach, consultant, and coauthor of Rules and Tools for Leaders

Marshall Goldsmith—the world’s leading executive coach and bestselling author of Triggers, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, and Mojo

Jon Gordon—husband, father, speaker, leadership consultant, and bestselling author of more than fifteen books, including The Energy Bus, The Carpenter, and The Power of Positive Leadership

Craig Groeschel—founder/senior pastor of Life. Church and bestselling author of numerous books, including #Struggles and Divine Direction

Phyllis Hennecy Hendry—CEO of the Lead Like Jesus ministry, speaker, and coauthor of Lead Like Jesus Revisited

Chris Hodges—founder/senior pastor of Church of the Highlands, founder/chancellor of Highlands College, and bestselling author of Fresh Air, Four Cups, and The Daniel Dilemma

Phil Hodges—former Xerox executive, cofounder of the Lead Like Jesus ministry, and coauthor of Lead Like Jesus Revisited, Lead Like Jesus for Churches, and The Servant Leader

Laurie Beth Jones—business and life coach, speaker, and author of multiple bestselling books, including Jesus CEO and The Path

James M. Kouzes—coauthor of the bestselling book The Leadership Challenge and more than a dozen other books on leadership, and dean’s executive fellow of leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University Patrick Lencioni—bestselling author of numerous books, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Advantage, and The Ideal Team Player, and founder/CEO of The Table Group Rico Maranto—guardian of the culture and servant leadership evangelist at Waste Connections, Inc.

John C. Maxwell (foreword)—author of many bestselling books including The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and founder of EQUIP Leadership, Inc.

Erwin Raphael McManus—founder and lead pastor at Mosaic, speaker, and bestselling author of several books, including The Barbarian Way, The Artisan Soul, and The Last Arrow

Miles McPherson—founder and senior pastor of Rock Church, speaker, and author of Do Something! and God in the Mirror

Mark Miller—vice president of high performance leadership at Chick-fil-A, Inc., bestselling coauthor of The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, and author of Leaders Made Here and many other books Tom Mullins— founding pastor of Christ Fellowship Church, speaker, and author of Passing the Leadership Baton and The Leadership Game

Neal Nybo—ordained pastor, faith-based leadership consultant, coach, and author of Move Forward, Shut Tight, and Discovering Your Organization’s Next Step

Barry Z. Posner—endowed professor of leadership and former dean at Santa Clara University, scholar, renowned workshop facilitator, and coauthor of the award-winning book The Leadership Challenge and many others Dave Ramsey—popular radio personality, money management expert, and bestselling author of books that include The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership

Garry Ridge—CEO/president of WD-40 Company, speaker, and coauthor of bestselling book Helping People Win at Work

Mark Sanborn—leadership consultant, speaker, and author of The Fred Factor, You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader, and The Potential Principle

Simon Sinek—optimist and New York Times bestselling author of Start with

Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together Is Better, and Find Your Why Raj Sisodia—global thought leader of the Conscious Capitalism movement,

speaker, and coauthor of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

Larry C. Spears—president of Larry C. Spears Center for Servant Leadership, author, editor, and premiere student and interpreter of the writings of Robert K. Greenleaf



How You Can Achieve Great Relationships and Results

Edited by Ken Blanchard & Renee Broadwell

Servant Leadership in Action Copyright © 2018 by Polvera Publishing All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 1333 Broadway, Suite 1000 Oakland, CA 94612-1921 Tel: (510) 817-2277, Fax: (510) 817-2278 www.bkconnection.com

Ordering information for print editions Quantity sales. Special discounts are available on quantity purchases by corporations, associations, and others. For details, contact the “Special Sales Department” at the Berrett-Koehler address above. Individual sales. Berrett-Koehler publications are available through most bookstores. They can also be ordered directly from Berrett-Koehler: Tel: (800) 929-2929; Fax: (802) 864-7626; www.bkconnection.com Orders for college textbook/course adoption use. Please contact Berrett-Koehler: Tel: (800) 929-2929; Fax: (802) 864-7626. Distributed to the U.S. trade and internationally by Penguin Random House Publisher Services.

Berrett-Koehler and the BK logo are registered trademarks of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

First Edition Hardcover print edition ISBN 978-1-5230-9396-0 PDF e-book ISBN 978-1-5230-9397-7 IDPF e-book ISBN 978-1-52309398-4

2018-1 Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®. Scripture quotations marked MSG are from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Set in Adobe Garamond Pro by Westchester Publishing Services.

Cover design by Irene Morris

Interior design by R. Scott Rattray

This book is dedicated to all those who choose to serve rather than to be served.

Keep up the good work!

All author royalties for Servant Leadership in Action will be donated to the Foundation for Servant Leadership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the message of servant leadership throughout the world. The board of directors for the Foundation for Servant Leadership includes James H. Blanchard, Ken Blanchard, Henry Cloud, Mark A. Floyd, and Erwin Raphael McManus—all contributors to this book and important encouragers throughout its development.


Foreword by John C. Maxwell Introduction: Serve First and Lead Second Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell

Part One Fundamentals of Servant Leadership

1. What Is Servant Leadership? Ken Blanchard

2. Characteristics of Servant Leaders Larry C. Spears

3. Servant Leadership Is Conscious Leadership Raj Sisodia

4. Servant Leadership at the Speed of Trust Stephen M. R. Covey

5. Great Leaders SERVE Mark Miller

6. Servant Leadership: What Does It Really Mean? Mark A. Floyd

7. Servant Leaders Create a Great Place to Work for All Michael C. Bush

8. The Leader as Shepherd Holly Culhane

9. The Evolution of Servant Leadership Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek

Part Two Elements of Servant Leadership

10. One Question Every Servant Leader Should Ask Marshall Goldsmith

11. In the Service of Others: When Leaders Dare to Rehumanize Work Brené Brown

12. Servant Leaders Celebrate Others Tom Mullins

13. The Servant Leader’s Focus James Ferrell

14. What You See Determines How You Serve Chris Hodges

15. Compassion: The Heart of Servant Leadership Craig Groeschel

16. How to Spot Ideal Team Players Patrick Lencioni

17. The Servant Leader Identity Laurie Beth Jones

18. The Four Corners of the Leader’s Universe Henry Cloud

Part Three Lessons in Servant Leadership

19. Finding Your Voice James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

20. A Lesson from My Father: Washing Feet Phyllis Hennecy Hendry

21. The Puddle Is Not the Problem Neal Nybo

22. Five Army-Tested Lessons of Servant Leadership Jeffrey W. Foley

Jeffrey W. Foley

23. A Baptism of Leadership Erwin Raphael McManus

24. Little Things and Big Things Jon Gordon

25. In Praise of Followership Margie Blanchard

Part Four Exemplars of Servant Leadership

26. Jesus: The Greatest Example of a Servant Leader Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges

27. Andrew Young: Partner in Servant Leadership to Martin Luther King Jr. John Hope Bryant

28. Pat Summitt: Steely Eyes, Servant Heart Tamika Catchings

29. Dallas Willard: The Smartest Man I Ever Met Tony Baron

30. Henry Blackaby: A Lifelong Servant Leader Richard Blackaby

31. Frances Hesselbein: To Serve Is to Live Jim Dittmar

32. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones: A Sermon Seen Mark Sanborn

Part Five Putting Servant Leadership to Work

33. Treat Your People as Family Colleen Barrett

34. Developing and Using Servant Leadership in the Military Robin Blanchard

35. Leading Is Serving Dave Ramsey

36. Serving from an HR Perspective Shirley Bullard

37. It’s How You Treat People James H. Blanchard

38. How Servant Leadership Has Shaped Our Church Culture Miles McPherson

Part Six Servant Leadership Turnarounds

39. Out of the Flames, into the Light Art Barter

40. Serve the People Cheryl Bachelder

41. Waste Connections: A Servant Leadership Success Story Rico Maranto

42. Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A Garry Ridge

Final Comments: The Power of Love, Not the Love of Power

Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell



About the Editors

Services Available

Join Us Online

Foreword by John C. Maxwell

WHEN KEN BLANCHARD asked me to write the foreword for this wonderful collection of essays about servant leadership, I was thrilled for several reasons. First of all, Ken and I are soul mates. We both have been studying, teaching, and writing about leadership for years. In the process, we have come to the conclusion that the only way to create great relationships and results is through servant leadership. It’s all about putting other people first.

I get a kick when I hear people say “It’s lonely at the top.” To me, if it’s lonely at the top, it means nobody is following you. If that’s true, you’d better get off the top and go where the people are—and then, in my terms, bring them to the top with you.

Ken and I have laughed about how immature people are who think about themselves first. It’s a selfish way to lead. That’s okay when you are a small child; however, it’s not okay when you’re 35, 45, or 55, and you haven’t yet figured out that it’s not about you. We keep on reiterating that when you become a leader, you give up your right to think of yourself first. Servant leadership is about always putting others first.

This is a long-winded way of saying I love this book. Besides my admiration for Ken, another reason I’m excited has to do with the

quality of contributors he has gathered here. I can’t think of many people I admire in our field whom Ken hasn’t talked into participating. While they all have different perspectives, the result is some common themes that truly highlight the tenets of servant leadership in action—not just the principles of what servant leadership is. I must admit that a number of the essays grabbed at my heart and didn’t let go. I know you’ll also find several that particularly resonate with you.

I think you’ll appreciate the way the book is organized into six parts, starting with the fundamentals and elements of servant leadership and ending with first-

person accounts of putting servant leadership to work and how it has dramatically changed organizations for the better. You’ll also love Ken’s personal introductions for each of the authors.

I’m so glad you have picked up this book. Read it, study it, read it again, and apply the wonderful lessons about the power of lifting others up—and, in the process, helping everyone win.

John C. Maxwell Bestselling author and leadership expert www.johnmaxwell.com


Introduction Serve First and Lead Second


THE WORLD is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. We all have seen the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector of our society. Why is that? Because these leaders have been conditioned to think of leadership only in terms of power and control. We think there is a better choice: to lead at a higher level. When people lead at a higher level, they make the world a better place because in addition to results and relationships, their goals are focused on the greater good. This requires a special kind of leader: a servant leader.

Our desire to develop servant leaders who are world changers has driven us to produce this book—a carefully curated collection of essays. Here to share their passion about servant leadership are some of Ken’s very favorite people who are not only outstanding practitioners of servant leadership but also writers in the field. In addition to this introduction, throughout the book Ken will give short personal introductions to each of his colleagues’ essays.

Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term servant leadership in his essay titled “The Servant as Leader.”1 He published widely on the concept for the next twenty years.2 And yet it is an old concept. Two thousand years ago, servant leadership was central to the philosophy of Jesus, who exemplified the fully committed and effective servant leader. Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela are well-known modern examples of leaders who have exemplified this philosophy.

The book is organized into six parts. Part One, “Fundamentals of Servant Leadership,” includes essays that describe basic aspects of servant leadership. Part Two, “Elements of Servant Leadership,” highlights some of the different points of view of servant leaders. Part Three, “Lessons in Servant Leadership,” focuses on what people have learned on a personal level from observing servant

leadership in action. Part Four, “Exemplars of Servant Leadership,” features people who have been identified as classic servant leaders. Part Five, “Putting Servant Leadership to Work,” offers firsthand accounts of people who have made servant leadership come alive in their organizations. Part Six, “Servant Leadership Turnarounds,” illustrates how servant leadership can dramatically impact both results and human satisfaction in organizations.

An important note: In the opening essay of Part Four, “Exemplars of Servant Leadership,” Ken and Phil Hodges identify Jesus as the greatest servant leadership role model of all time, an identification they first wrote about in their book Lead Like Jesus.3 A number of Ken’s colleagues in their essays also refer to Jesus’s servant leadership example and to the Bible as an important leadership reference book. Why? Because it’s hard to deny Jesus’s influence, as a servant leader, on the world. Rest assured that our intention is not to try to convert anyone. In fact, a major goal of this book is to prove that servant leadership has application in both secular and spiritual leadership in every kind of organization, including businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, and places of worship.

Although we organize this book around six parts describing various aspects of servant leadership, we don’t want you to get discouraged or overwhelmed. Rather, we encourage you, as you read this book, to find four or five essays that really speak to your heart and motivate you to say “As a leader I want to serve rather than be served.”

The audience for this book is wide. It’s for anyone in a leadership position— from a frontline supervisor to the CEO of a company. In fact, every person who serves as a leader in a secular or nonsecular capacity could benefit from reading and practicing the leadership concepts from the essays in this book.

Our dream is that someday, everywhere, everyone will be impacted by someone who is a servant leader. Self-serving leaders will be a thing of the past. Leaders throughout the world will be people who, in Robert K. Greenleaf’s terms, “serve first and lead second.” We have created this book to help make that dream a reality. It’s our hope and desire that reading Servant Leadership in Action will either confirm what you already are doing or be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in your personal leadership journey. We want this to be the book you refer to when you are interested in how to actually practice servant leadership in your life and work—how to get beyond the theory and philosophy to daily action. We believe you, too, can be a servant leader who makes a positive difference in the world.

Join us in our quest. We are counting on you.

Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The New One Minute Manager, Leading at a Higher Level, and Lead Like Jesus Revisited and cofounder of The Ken Blanchard Companies and Lead Like Jesus

Renee Broadwell, senior editor, The Ken Blanchard Companies

Notes 1. Robert K. Greenleaf, “The Servant as Leader” (Atlanta: The Greenleaf

Center for Servant Leadership, 1970). 2. A collection of Greenleaf’s most mature writings on the subject can be

found in The Power of Servant Leadership (San Francisco: Berrett- Koehler, 1998). The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership (www.greenleaf.org) is a resource for all of Greenleaf’s work.

3. Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005).

Part One Fundamentals of Servant Leadership

Descriptions of Basic Aspects of Servant Leadership

• Ken Blanchard covers his leadership philosophy in “What Is Servant Leadership?” by emphasizing the two parts of servant leadership: the leadership/strategic aspect and the servant/operational aspect.

• Larry C. Spears, inspired by his mentor and pioneer in the field of servant leadership Robert K. Greenleaf, discusses “Characteristics of Servant Leaders.”

• Raj Sisodia, cofounder of the Conscious Capitalism movement, shows in “Servant Leadership Is Conscious Leadership” how the qualities of servant leaders overlap considerably with those of conscious leaders.

• Stephen M. R. Covey, in “Servant Leadership at the Speed of Trust,” reflects on how trust is inextricably linked to the practice of servant leadership.

• Mark Miller, in “Great Leaders SERVE,” relates how the SERVE acronym developed at Chick-fil-A can help you become a servant leader.

• Mark A. Floyd offers advice to new servant leaders in his essay “Servant Leadership: What Does It Really Mean?”

• Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Places to Work For All, shows that the most extraordinary organizations are led by servant leaders in “Servant Leaders Create a Great Place to Work for All.”

• Holly Culhane, in “The Leader as Shepherd,” presents a compelling argument that the shepherd is one of the best examples of a servant leader.

• Simon Sinek, in “The Evolution of Servant Leadership,” shares his thoughts about the roots of servant leadership—and why it matters.

Chapter 1 What Is Servant Leadership?


Okay, let’s get started. As Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning. . . .” What is servant leadership all about? In this essay, I’ll give you my thoughts. —KB

WHEN PEOPLE HEAR the phrase servant leadership, they are often confused. Their assumption is that it means managers should be working for their people, who would decide what to do, when to do it, where to do it, and how to do it. If that’s what servant leadership is all about, it doesn’t sound like leadership to them at all. It sounds more like the inmates running the prison, or trying to please everyone.

The problem is that these folks don’t understand leadership—much less servant leadership.1 They think you can’t lead and serve at the same time. Yet you can, if you understand that there are two parts to servant leadership:

• a visionary/direction, or strategic, role—the leadership aspect of servant leadership; and

• an implementation, or operational, role—the servant aspect of servant leadership.

Some people say that leadership is really the visionary/direction role—doing the right thing—and management is the implementation role—doing things right. Rather than getting caught in the leadership vs. management debate, let’s think of these both as leadership roles.

In this book, we focus on leadership as an influence process in which you try to help people accomplish goals. All good leadership starts with a visionary role,

as Jesse Stoner and I explain in our book Full Steam Ahead!2 This involves not only goal setting, but also establishing a compelling vision that tells you who you are (your purpose), where you’re going (your picture of the future), and what will guide your journey (your values). In other words, leadership starts with a sense of direction.

I love the saying “a river without banks is a large puddle.”3 The banks permit the river to flow; they give direction to the river. Leadership is about going somewhere; it’s not about wandering around aimlessly. If people don’t have a compelling vision to serve, the only thing they have to serve is their own self- interest.

Walt Disney started his theme parks with a clear purpose. He said, “We’re in the happiness business.” That is very different from being in the theme park business. Being in the happiness business helps cast members (employees) understand their primary role in the company.

When it comes to a purpose statement, too many organizations, if they have one, make it too complicated. I’ll never forget talking to all of the key managers of a major bank. Prior to my speech, I asked them to send me their purpose statement if they had one, which they did. When I got up in front of the group, I told them how much I appreciated their sending me their purpose statement. “Ever since I got it, I’ve slept so much better. Why? Because I put it next to my bed and if I couldn’t sleep at night I would read it.” The purpose statement droned on and on. I said, “If I were working with you, I would hope you would say ‘We are in the financial peace of mind business—if people give us money, we will protect it and even grow it.’” Everyone laughed because they knew that would be something that all their people could easily share and follow.

Once you have a clear purpose that tells you who you are, you need to develop a picture of the future so that everyone knows where you are going. Walt Disney’s picture of the future was expressed in the charge he gave every cast member: “Keep the same smile on people’s faces when they leave the park as when they entered.” Disney didn’t care whether a guest was in the park two hours or ten hours. He just wanted to keep them smiling. After all, they were in the happiness business. Your picture of the future should focus on the end results.

The final aspect of a compelling vision involves your values, which are there to guide your journey. Values provide guidelines for how you should proceed as you pursue your purpose and picture of the future. They answer the questions “What do I want to live by?” and “How?” They need to be clearly described so that you know exactly what behaviors demonstrate those values as being lived.

The Disney theme parks have four rank-ordered values: safety, courtesy, the show, and efficiency. Why is safety the highest ranked value? Walt Disney knew that if a guest were to be carried out of one of his parks on a stretcher, that person would not have the same smile on their face leaving the park that they had when they entered.

The second-ranked value, courtesy, is all about the friendly attitude you expect at a Disney theme park. Why is it important to know that it’s the number- two value? Suppose one of the Disney cast members is answering a guest question in a friendly, courteous manner, and he hears a scream that’s not coming from a roller coaster. If that cast member wants to act according to the park’s rank-ordered values, he will excuse himself as quickly and politely as possible and race toward the scream. Why? Because the number-one value just called. If the values were not rank-ordered and the cast member was enjoying the interaction with the guest, he might say, “They’re always yelling at the park,” and not move in the direction of the scream. Later, somebody could come to that cast member and say, “You were the closest to the scream. Why didn’t you move?” The response could be, “I was dealing with our courtesy value.”

Life is a series of value conflicts. There will be times when you can’t act on two values at the same time. I have a hunch that’s why Walt Disney put efficiency—running a profitable business—as the fourth-ranked value. He wanted to make clear they would do nothing to save money that would put people in danger, nor do a major downsizing in the park that impacted in a negative way their courtesy value.

Once an organization has a compelling vision, they can set goals and define strategic initiatives that suggest what people should be focusing on right now. With a compelling vision, these goals and strategic initiatives take on more meaning and therefore are not seen as a threat, but as part of the bigger picture.

The traditional hierarchical pyramid (see Figure 1.1) is effective for the leadership aspect of servant leadership. Kids look to their parents, players look to their coaches, and people look to their organizational leaders for vision and direction. While these leaders should involve experienced people in shaping direction, the ultimate responsibility remains with the leaders themselves and cannot be delegated to others.

Once people are clear on where they are going, the leader’s role shifts to a service mindset for the task of implementation—the second aspect of servant leadership. The question now is: How do we live according to the vision and accomplish the established goals? Implementation is where the servant aspect of servant leadership comes into play.

Figure 1.1 Visionary/leadership role

Most organizations and leaders get into trouble in the implementation phase of the leadership process. With self-serving leaders at the helm, the traditional hierarchical pyramid is kept alive and well. When that happens, who do people think they work for? The people above them. The minute you think you work for the person above you for implementation, you are assuming that person—your boss—is responsible and your job is being responsive to that boss and to his or her whims or wishes. Now “boss watching” becomes a popular sport and people get promoted on their upward-influencing skills. As a result, all the energy of the organization is moving up the hierarchy, away from customers and the frontline folks who are closest to the action. What you get is a duck pond. When there is a conflict between what the customers want and what the boss wants, the boss wins. You have people quacking like ducks: “It’s our policy.” “I just work here.” “Would you like me to get my supervisor?” Servant leaders know how to correct this situation by philosophically turning the traditional hierarchical pyramid upside down when it comes to implementation (see Figure 1.2).

When that happens, who is at the top of the organization? The customer contact people. Who is really at the top of the organization? The customers. Who is at the bottom now? The “top” management. As a result, who works for whom when it comes to implementation? You, the leader, work for your people. This one change, although it seems minor, makes a major difference. The difference is between who is responsible and who is responsive.

When you turn the organizational pyramid upside down, rather than your people being responsive to you, they become responsible—able to respond—and your job as the leader/manager is to be responsive to your people. This creates a

very different environment for implementation. If you work for your people as servant leaders do, what is the purpose of being a manager? To help your people become eagles rather than ducks and soar above the crowd—accomplishing goals, solving problems, and living according to the vision.4

Figure 1.2 Implementation/servant role

As a customer, you can always tell an organization that is run by a self- serving leader. Why? Because if you have a problem and go to a frontline customer contact person to solve it, you are talking to a duck. They say, “It’s our policy,” quack quack; “I didn’t make the rules,” quack quack; “Do you want to talk to my supervisor?” quack quack.

Several years ago, a friend of mine had an experience in a department store that illustrates this point well. While shopping, he realized he needed to talk to his wife but he had left his cell phone at home. He asked a salesperson in the men’s department if he could use the telephone.

“No,” the salesperson said. My friend replied, “You have to be kidding me. I can always use the phone at

Nordstrom.” The salesperson said, “Look, buddy, they don’t let me use the phone here.

Why should I let you?” That certainly isn’t what servant leadership is all about. Who do you think

that salesperson worked for—a duck or an eagle? Obviously, a supervisory duck. Who does that duck work for? Another duck, who works for another duck. And who sits at the top of the organization? The head mallard—a great big duck. If the salesperson had worked for an eagle, both he and the customer would have been able to use the phone!

been able to use the phone! Now contrast that with the eagle experience one of my colleagues had when

he went to Nordstrom one day to get some perfume for his wife. The woman behind the counter said, “I’m sorry; we don’t sell that perfume in our store. But I know where I can get it in the mall. How long will you be in our store?”

“About 30 minutes,” my colleague said. “Fine. I’ll go get it, bring it back, gift wrap it, and have it ready for you when

you leave.” This woman left Nordstrom, went to another store, got the perfume my

colleague wanted, came back to Nordstrom, and gift wrapped it. You know what she charged him? The same price she had paid at the other store. So Nordstrom didn’t make any money on the deal, but what did they make? A raving fan customer.

To me, servant leadership is the only way to guarantee great relationships and results. That became even clearer to me when I realized that the two leadership approaches I am best known for around the world—The One Minute Manager® and Situational Leadership® II (SLII®)—are both examples of servant leadership in action.

After all, what’s the First Secret of The One Minute Manager? One Minute Goals. All good performance starts with clear goals—which is clearly part of the leadership aspect of servant leadership. Once people are clear on goals, an effective One Minute Manager wanders around and tries to catch people doing something right so that they can deliver a One Minute Praising—the Second Secret. If the person is doing something wrong or not performing as well as agreed upon, a One Minute ReDirect is appropriate—the Third Secret. When effective One Minute Managers deliver praisings and redirects, they are engaging in the servant aspect of servant leadership—they are working for their people to help them win—accomplish their goals.5

Situational Leadership® II6 also has three aspects that generate both great relationships and results: goal setting, diagnosis, and matching. Once clear goals are set, an effective SLII leader works with their direct report to diagnose the direct report’s development level—competence and commitment—on each specific goal. Together they then determine the appropriate leadership style—the amount of directive and supportive behavior—that will match the person’s development level on each goal so that the manager can help them accomplish their goals. The key here, in the servant aspect of servant leadership, is for managers to remember they must use different strokes for different folks and also different strokes for the same folks, depending on the goal and the person’s

development level. Why are the concepts of The One Minute Manager and SLII so widely used

around the world? I think it’s because they are clear examples of servant leadership in action. Both concepts recognize that vision and direction—the leadership aspect of servant leadership—is the responsibility of the traditional hierarchy. The servant aspect of servant leadership is all about turning the hierarchy upside down and helping everyone throughout the organization develop great relationships, get great results, and, eventually, delight their customers. That’s what servant leadership is all about.

Notes 1. Ken Blanchard et al., Leading at a Higher Level (Upper Saddle River, NJ:

FT Press, 2006, 2010). See chapter 14 for a more extensive discussion of what servant leadership is all about.

2. See Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner, Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Company and Your Life (San Francisco: Berrett- Koehler, 2003, 2011) for more about the visionary role of leadership.

3. This expression was coined by Alan Randolph. See Ken Blanchard, John Carlos, and Alan Randolph, Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1996).

4. Ken first heard this distinction between ducks and eagles from author and legendary personal growth guru Wayne Dyer.

5. Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager (New York: William Morrow, 1982, 2003). See also their The New One Minute Manager (New York: William Morrow, 2015).

6. Ken Blanchard first developed Situational Leadership® with Paul Hersey in the late 1960s. It was in the early 1980s that Ken and founding associates of The Ken Blanchard Companies—Margie Blanchard, Don Carew, Eunice Parisi-Carew, Fred Finch, Laurie Hawkins, Drea Zigarmi, and Patricia Zigarmi—created Situational Leadership® II. The best description of this thinking can be found in Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi, and Drea Zigarmi, Leadership and the One Minute Manager (New York: William Morrow, 1985, 2013).

Chapter 2 Characteristics of Servant Leaders


In the late 1960s, I had the privilege of spending the weekend with Robert K. Greenleaf shortly after he retired from AT&T and began writing about servant leadership. I was on the faculty of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, at the time. Several years later I got to know Larry Spears, who, during his time as director of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, became the premier student of Greenleaf’s writings. When you read Larry’s essay about the ten characteristics of a servant leader, you will see why his participation in this book was a must. —KB

THE WORDS SERVANT and leader are usually thought of as being opposites. In deliberately bringing those words together in a meaningful way in 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf, a retired AT&T executive, gave birth to the paradoxical term servant leadership. In doing so, he launched a quiet revolution in the way in which we view and practice leadership. In the decades since then, many of today’s most effective managers and top thought leaders are writing and speaking about servant leadership, as exemplified in this book.

What is servant leadership? Let’s take a look at Greenleaf’s big picture definition:

The servant leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they

benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?1

Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader Back in 1992, I extracted from Robert K. Greenleaf’s writings a set of ten characteristics of the servant leader, which I view as being of critical importance and central to the development of servant leaders. In the decades since that time, part of my own work in servant leadership has focused on encouraging a deepening understanding of the following characteristics and how they contribute to the meaningful practices of servant leaders. These ten characteristics are:

1. Listening. Leaders traditionally have been valued for their communication and decision-making skills. Although these are also important skills for the servant leader, they need to be reinforced by a deep commitment to listening intently to others. The servant leader seeks to identify the will of a group and helps to clarify that will. He or she listens receptively to what is being said and not said. Listening also encompasses hearing one’s own inner voice. Listening, coupled with periods of reflection, is essential to the growth and well-being of the servant leader.

2. Empathy. The servant leader strives to understand and empathize with others. People deserve to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirits. One assumes the good intentions of coworkers and colleagues and does not reject them as people, even when one may be forced to refuse to accept certain behaviors or performance. The most successful servant leaders are those who have become skilled empathetic listeners.

3. Healing. The healing of relationships is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and one’s relationship to others. Many people have broken spirits and have suffered from a variety of emotional hurts. Although this is a part of being human, servant leaders recognize that they have an opportunity to help make whole those with whom they come in contact. In his essay “The Servant as Leader,” Greenleaf writes, “There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between servant leader and led, is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share.”2

4. Awareness. General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens

the servant leader. Awareness helps one in understanding issues involving ethics, power, and values. It lends itself to being able to view most situations from a more integrated, holistic position. As Greenleaf observes, “Awareness is not a giver of solace—it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace. They have their own inner serenity.”3

5. Persuasion. Another characteristic of servant leaders is reliance on persuasion, rather than on one’s positional authority, in making decisions within an organization. The servant leader seeks to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of servant leadership. The servant leader is effective at building consensus within groups. This emphasis on persuasion over coercion finds its roots in the beliefs of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)—the denominational body to which Robert K. Greenleaf belonged.

6. Conceptualization. Servant leaders seek to nurture their abilities to dream great dreams. The ability to look at a problem or an organization from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must think beyond day-to-day realities. For many leaders, this is a characteristic that requires discipline and practice. The traditional leader is consumed by the need to achieve short-term operational goals. The leader who wishes also to be a servant leader must stretch his or her thinking to encompass broader-based conceptual thinking. Within organizations, conceptualization is, by its very nature, a key role of boards of trustees or directors. Unfortunately, boards can sometimes become involved in the day-to-day operations— something that should always be discouraged—and thus fail to provide the visionary concept for an institution. Trustees need to be mostly conceptual in their orientation; staffs need to be mostly operational in their perspective; and the most effective executive leaders probably need to develop both perspectives within themselves. Servant leaders are called to seek a delicate balance between conceptual thinking and a day-to-day operational approach.

7. Foresight. Closely related to conceptualization, the ability to foresee the likely outcome of a situation is hard to define but easier to identify. One knows foresight when one experiences it. Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the

future. It is also deeply rooted within the intuitive mind. Foresight remains a largely unexplored area in leadership studies, but it is one most deserving of careful attention.

8. Stewardship. Peter Block, author of Stewardship and The Empowered Manager,4 defines stewardship as “holding something in trust for another.” Robert K. Greenleaf’s view of all institutions was one in which CEOs, staffs, and trustees all played significant roles in holding their institutions in trust for the greater good of society. Servant leadership, like stewardship, assumes a commitment to serving the needs of others. It also emphasizes the use of openness and persuasion rather than control.

9. Commitment to the growth of people. Servant leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers. As such, the servant leader is deeply committed to the growth of each individual within his or her organization. The servant leader recognizes the tremendous responsibility to do everything in his or her power to nurture the personal and professional growth of employees and colleagues. In practice, this can include concrete actions such as making funds available for personal and professional development, taking a personal interest in the ideas and suggestions from everyone, encouraging worker involvement in decision making, and actively assisting laid-off employees to find other positions.

10. Building community. The servant leader senses that much has been lost in recent human history as a result of the shift from local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human lives. This awareness causes the servant leader to seek to identify some means for building community among those who work within a given institution. Servant leadership suggests that true community can be created among those who work in businesses and other institutions. Greenleaf said, “All that is needed to rebuild community as a viable life form for large numbers of people is for enough servant leaders to show the way, not by mass movements, but by each servant leader demonstrating his or her unlimited liability for a quite specific community-related group.”5

These ten characteristics of servant leadership are by no means exhaustive. However, they do serve to communicate the power and promise that this concept offers to those who are open to its invitation and challenge.

We are experiencing a rapid shift in many businesses and not-for-profit organizations—away from the more traditional autocratic and hierarchical

models of leadership and toward servant leadership as a way of being in relationship with others. Interest in the meaning and practice of servant leadership continues to grow. Many books, articles, and papers on the subject have now been published. Workshops, courses, and degrees in servant leadership are now available. Many of the companies named to Fortune magazine’s annual listing of “The 100 Best Companies to Work For” espouse servant leadership and have integrated it into their corporate cultures. My own work in servant leadership over the past quarter century has brought me into direct or indirect contact with millions of people who embrace servant leadership, and who are now working to create servant-led organizations of all kinds.

Servant leadership characteristics often occur naturally within many individuals and, like many natural tendencies, they can be enhanced through learning and practice. Servant leadership offers great hope for the future in creating better, more caring, institutions.

Larry C. Spears, a noted author and speaker on servant leadership, is president and CEO of the Spears Center for Servant Leadership (www.spearscenter.org) and also serves as servant leadership scholar at Gonzaga University. From 1990 to 2007, Larry was president and CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. He is the editor and contributing author of more than a dozen books on servant leadership including Insights on Leadership, as well as editor of five books of Greenleaf’s writings.

Notes 1. Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of

Legitimate Power and Greatness (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1977). 2. Robert K. Greenleaf, “The Servant as Leader” (Atlanta: The Greenleaf

Center for Servant Leadership, 1970). 3. Ibid. 4. Peter Block, The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work

(San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987), and Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self Interest (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993).

5. Greenleaf, “The Servant as Leader.”

Chapter 3 Servant Leadership Is Conscious Leadership


When I shared the platform a few years ago with Raj Sisodia, I was amazed how complementary his thinking about Conscious Capitalism was with my beliefs about servant leadership—in essence, that profit is the applause you get for creating a motivating environment for your people so that they will take care of your customers. Read this essay and see how well Conscious Capitalism fits in with the beliefs on servant leadership that Larry Spears and I have shared. —KB

THE INSTITUTION OF business, as practiced in a system of free market capitalism, has been the prime driver in elevating human prosperity and flourishing to unprecedented heights for more than two hundred years. These huge gains in material prosperity have come at a cost, however. People are experiencing extremely high levels of stress, depression, and chronic diseases.

How is this state of affairs acceptable? We are more intelligent, more educated, better informed, more connected, more caring, less violent, and more conscious than ever before. Yet our work continues to be a source of deep suffering for most of us. In large measure, we can place the blame on poor leadership.

Leaders are products of the systems that give rise to them. The existing system has elevated people into positions of leadership who lack the qualities needed to lead in today’s world. These people do whatever it takes to deliver the numbers without regard to human cost or long-term consequences for organizational health.

The consciousness with which a business operates is a direct function of the

consciousness of its leader. A leader whose consciousness is rooted in fear, scarcity, and survival will create an organization that is all about those qualities.

But there is a new way of doing business that is radically different. Actually, it is not new at all—companies have been operating this way for over a century. These conscious capitalist organizations have four defining characteristics:

1. They operate with a purpose other than profit maximization as their reason for being.

2. They seek to create value for all their stakeholders, not just shareholders. 3. Their leaders are motivated by service to the company’s purpose and its

people, not by power or personal enrichment. 4. They strive to build cultures infused with trust, openness, and caring

instead of fear and stress.

In the long run, our research shows that such companies generate far more financial wealth than do traditional profit-centered firms—outperforming the S&P 500 index by 14 to 1 and the companies featured in Jim Collins’s Good to Great by 6 to 1 over a 15-year period.1 Conscious businesses know that it is possible to do business with a spectrum of positive effects. And if it is possible, why would we choose not to?

You cannot have a conscious business without a conscious leader, and you cannot be a conscious leader without being a conscious human being. The qualities of servant leaders overlap considerably with those of conscious leaders. For the purposes of this essay, please consider the two terms interchangeable as we explore the characteristics of servant leaders/conscious leaders and how they can be cultivated.

Conscious Leaders are SELFLESS Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else takes leadership. —Peter Drucker

The essential elements of what it means to be a conscious leader can be captured in this single word, which also serves as an acronym: SELFLESS—defined as placing the interests of others before your own. True leaders transcend the self. A leader who operates with a primary emphasis on self-interest naturally views other people as a means to that end. You cannot be a true leader if you operate at that level of consciousness.

Selfless does not mean eradicating the ego; that is nearly impossible. It is

about harnessing the ego in healthy ways. As the Dalai Lama has said, “We cannot and need not eradicate our ego; rather, we must make sure it is a serving ego and not a deserving ego.”

As an acronym, SELFLESS refers to the qualities of conscious leaders: Strength, Enthusiasm, Love, Flexibility, Long-Term Orientation, Emotional Intelligence, Systems Intelligence, and Spiritual Intelligence. The servant leader is a whole person, not a fragmented being. SELFLESS reflects a harmonious blend of mature masculine and mature feminine qualities. Too many leaders today manifest only immature hypermasculine qualities such as domination, aggression, hypercompetitiveness, winning at all costs, etc. They view every leadership challenge through the lens of war—a mindset that is at best win-lose, and usually lose-lose. Let’s take a closer look at what each letter of the SELFLESS acronym stands for.

Strength We start with strength because conscious leaders are strong, resolute, and resilient. They have to have moral fiber, self-confidence, and the courage of their convictions. They are unshakable in standing up to doubters or obstructionists with self-serving agendas. They are confident without being arrogant. The key is that their strength is deployed in the service of noble ends: the flourishing of all the lives they lead and touch. This strength is sourced from within as well as from outside.

Conscious leaders draw on the strength of their teams without depleting the power of those teams. They tap into the moral power of the universe—which is available to anyone engaged in genuinely “right” action. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Leaders who try to bend that arc in other directions will find their efforts ultimately stymied, while those who engage in right actions and pursue noble goals can access unlimited righteous power. It is power with, not power over, those they seek to lead. For leaders to be powerful, followers don’t have to be rendered powerless. Collectively, they have access to all the power they need by being connected to the source of infinite power.

Enthusiasm Conscious leaders are connected to an infinite source of power because of their commitment to a higher purpose and a righteous path. This power gives them great energy and enthusiasm. This doesn’t mean that they have to be gregarious extroverts. Introverts make exceptional leaders, as many studies have found. But

extroverts. Introverts make exceptional leaders, as many studies have found. But when you’re aligned with your purpose, you can’t help but be enthusiastic. That is hard to fake if you don’t have it.

Love A fundamental leadership quality is the ability to operate from love and care. Throughout human history, the great leaders who transformed society for the better—Emperor Ashoka, Lincoln, Gandhi, Mandela, and King—all possessed tremendous strength along with a powerful capacity for caring. They were able to expand their circle of caring to encompass more and more of humanity—often including their own so-called enemies. They truly, deeply cared about human beings and had a clear sense of right and wrong. Truly great leaders are those who take the world to a better place. They manifest love that is rooted in a foundation of caring. When a leader comes from a place of genuine caring and possesses great strength, they become a peaceful warrior, able to battle steep odds for a just and righteous cause.

The opposite of love is fear. An organization suffused with fear is inherently incapable of genuine creativity and innovation. Its people are condemned to daily lives of intense stress, unhappiness, ill health, and dysfunctional families. Conscious leaders seek to drive fear out of their organizations. As Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last,2 says, they create a “circle of safety” within which everyone in the organizational family can grow and thrive.

Flexibility Flexibility is the capacity to switch modes seamlessly and to bend without breaking as the situation or the context requires. Conscious leaders are like golfers with a full set of clubs; they know how to select and implement the right approach for each situation. These leaders are able to bend but not break, adapting to circumstances in a principled way without sacrificing their core values.

A phrase that captures the idea of flexibility states that conscious leaders are “wise fools of tough love.” They simultaneously embody wisdom and playfulness, strength and tenderness. They cultivate a sensitive sonar that enables them to gauge the approach needed in each leadership moment.

Long-Term Orientation Conscious leaders operate on a time horizon that goes beyond not only their tenure as leaders but also their own lifetimes. The Founding Fathers of the

tenure as leaders but also their own lifetimes. The Founding Fathers of the United States led with an eye toward eternity, seeking to put in place ideas and principles that would endure for centuries if not millennia. Organizations have the potential to be immortal. Whether they endure depends on the actions of their leaders.

The success of a leader is best gauged by what happens after they are gone. Does the organization continue to operate with high principles and moral clarity? Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, in their book Built to Last,3 wrote about leaders who are “clock builders” vs. those who are “time tellers.” Clock builders create organizations that will endure when they are gone, because no one is reliant on them to tell the time. Conscious leaders ensure that the essential elements of what makes the business special become part of the DNA of the organization. They often accomplish this by creating documents akin to the U.S. Declaration of Independence—who we are and what we stand for; and the Constitution— how we do things.

Emotional Intelligence For leaders, a high level of analytical intelligence (IQ) is a given. In the past, most companies only valued that. Today, other forms of intelligence are even more important—in particular, emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, and systems intelligence. The great news is that while our analytical intelligence is fixed at birth and can only decline, other kinds of intelligence can be cultivated and enhanced.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) combines self-awareness (understanding oneself) and empathy (the ability to feel and understand what others are feeling). High EQ is increasingly being recognized as important in organizations because of the growing complexity of society and the variety of stakeholders that must be communicated with effectively. Unfortunately, research shows that the higher the position in the organization, the lower the level of EQ, with the CEO typically having the lowest level.4

Growing our self-awareness is a continuous process that lasts a lifetime—an entire universe is within us, waiting to be discovered. We learn about ourselves by becoming aware of our emotions and understanding why we’re experiencing them. Each emotion is a window into who we are and what we care about, often at a subconscious level. As Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

Systems Intelligence

Systems intelligence (SYQ) is an intelligence many societies don’t yet recognize, understand, or cultivate. Yet in the twenty-first century, as organizations become more complex and the world becomes increasingly interdependent, it’s hard to overstate how valuable this type of intelligence is.

Systems thinking focuses on the way that a system’s constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems. Systems thinking contrasts sharply with symptomatic thinking, which causes us to constantly react to surface-level symptoms rather than understand the underlying processes that are giving rise to those symptoms.

Conscious leaders work to become natural systems thinkers. They understand the roots of problems and how the problems relate to organizational design and culture, and they devise fundamental solutions instead of applying symptomatic quick fixes. As Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings, and then our buildings shape us.” The same can be said of systems.

Spiritual Intelligence According to Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, “Spiritual intelligence (SQ) is the intelligence with which we access our deepest meanings, values, purposes, and higher motivations. It is . . . our moral intelligence, giving us an innate ability to distinguish right from wrong. It is the intelligence with which we exercise goodness, truth, beauty, and compassion in our lives.”5 SQ helps us to discover our higher purpose in our work and our lives. Leaders with high SQ have a remarkable ability to align their organizations with a higher purpose. They also have uncanny discernment to sense when things are beginning to go off track.

Servant leadership matters now more than ever. The human seed has never been more potent, powerful, or filled with promise. But even the best seed, in order to flourish, needs the right soil: conditions that enable us to realize our extraordinary, almost divine, potential. In the organizational context, that means having the right kind of leadership that gives rise to a culture in which people can flourish. But if met with toxic leadership that seeks only to use and exploit precious human lives, that same seed can wither away, or worse, mutate into a malignant force and spread further pain and suffering in the world. Our great collective calling in the world today is to enhance joy. That takes leaders with great hearts and great courage who seek only to serve, to imagine a better future, and to devise ways in which we can realize it together.

A global thought leader of the Conscious Capitalism movement, Raj Sisodia

(www.rajsisodia.com) is the Franklin Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College. He is also cofounder and cochairman of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. Raj has an MBA from the Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in Bombay and a PhD in marketing from Columbia University. He is coauthor of the bestselling book Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.

Notes 1. Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and

Others Don’t (New York: HarperBusiness, 2001). 2. Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to

Take Action (New York: Penguin, 2009). See also his Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (New York: Penguin, 2014).

3. Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (New York: HarperBusiness, 1994).

4. Travis Bradberry and Jeanne Greaves, “Heartless Bosses?,” Harvard Business Review (December 2005).

5. Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, Spiritual Capital: Wealth We Can Live By (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2004).

Chapter 4 Servant Leadership at the Speed of Trust


I met Stephen R. Covey in 1976. Over time, we spoke at many of the same sessions and became great supporters of each other’s work. When Steve passed away a few years ago, I was sad our field had lost such an important voice. Little did I know then that his son, Stephen M. R. Covey, with whom I have shared the platform many times since, would take up the banner and even go beyond where his father had journeyed. You’ll understand what I’m saying after you read this wonderful essay about the role of trust in being an effective servant leader. —KB

THERE IS AN intuition that I’ve had for a long time now. As a student of Robert K. Greenleaf’s principles of servant leadership, I felt that intuition grow as I developed my original manuscript for The Speed of Trust,1 and grow ever stronger as Greg Link and I followed it with Smart Trust.2 I became increasingly convinced that the practices of servant leadership and trust are inextricably linked. Today I find it difficult to talk about serving without also talking about trust—and vice versa.

Consider this contrast: both servant leadership and trust-based leadership stand in opposition to traditional positional leadership, which is steeped in the language of control: “You have to do what I say because I’m the boss.”

On the other hand, servant leaders and trust-based leaders alike draw from a deeper well of meaning. They serve first and they extend trust first. Leadership is the by-product and positional authority is, at best, an afterthought.

Given the link between servant leadership and trust, which comes first? Is one

driven by the other? For the leader who seeks to lead their organization into the stratosphere of success, how should these two disciplines be balanced? Here are five key insights that have become clear to me.

1. The defining outcome for the servant leader is trust. How do you know if you are a servant leader? The answer is trust.

Trust is the litmus test. Trust is to servant leadership what profit is to a business. It’s the outcome. It’s the core measure. The scoreboard.

It’s a simple assessment you can conduct right now. Pause for a moment to think about the people you lead. What is the level—and quality —of trust? If you are an authentic servant leader, you have enormous trust. But if you are surrounded by low or damaged trust, then you may safely conclude that your servant orientation is in some way compromised or diluted.

If you lead as a servant, you’ll know it—because you will be surrounded by high-trust relationships and a high-trust team. And your company will reap the dividends of a high-trust organization. It’s that simple.

2. The clear intent of the servant leader is to serve others. Trust and servant leadership share another similarity in that both are

built on intent. Intent—your motive, your agenda—may be intangible and invisible. But don’t think for a moment that it is hidden. People sense your intent in everything you say and do.

Think about positional leaders. What is the intent of leaders who drive change purely through the force of their position in the organizational hierarchy? To generate business outcomes first. If they can do so while also creating a win for other people, that’s certainly a nice bonus. But when tempted with a forced choice, they will go straight for the results even if it means that people get bruised in the process. I’ve worked with plenty of those leaders. At the end of the day, positional leaders are self- serving.

Servant leaders are different. Their intent is purely and simply to serve others—coworkers, customers, partners, communities. Servant leaders are motivated by caring and the agenda they seek is mutual benefit: “I want to win—but it is even more important to me that you win.” I have worked with plenty of those leaders as well. When their intent was pure, I knew it. I never needed to second-guess their agenda or motive. And, significantly,

I wanted to give them my best in terms of quality work and personal loyalty. They truly inspired me to perform better and they absolutely brought out the best in me.

But why wait for people to infer your intent? You can accelerate trust by declaring your intent. John Mackey, the beloved CEO of Whole Foods Market, did this in dramatic fashion eight years ago when he wrote a letter to all employees of the organization. Here is an excerpt from that remarkable—and now legendary—company communication:

The tremendous success of Whole Foods Market has provided me with far more money than I ever dreamed I’d have and far more than is necessary for either my financial security or personal happiness. . . . I am now 53 years old and I have reached a place in my life where I no longer want to work for money, but simply for the joy of the work itself and to better answer the call to service that I feel so clearly in my own heart. Beginning on January 1, 2007, my salary will be reduced to $1, and I will no longer take any other cash compensation. . . . The intention of the board of directors is for Whole Foods Market to donate all of the future stock options I would be eligible to receive to our two company foundations.

What do you imagine was the cultural impact of that statement? If you were an employee at Whole Foods Market, do you think this might have reawakened your own aspirations and commitment to the mission? And might it have increased Mackey’s credibility as he led this fast-growing organization? It did both of those things, in abundance.

There are more tangible outcomes as well. Over time, a servant leader’s authentic intent will eventually materialize in behavioral norms, and then ultimately in systems and structures. Today, Mackey’s intent is manifest in Whole Foods’ servant leadership culture. Intent shapes the organization. And it becomes real.

3. The deliberate behavior of the servant leader is authentic, trust-building behavior.

Behavior is ground zero for the servant leader. It is the place where conviction becomes real; where intent becomes a potent force for value- creating change; and where the leader can make intentional moves for the purpose of establishing a servant leadership culture.

For the servant leader, behavior isn’t just what gets done but how it gets done. This principle shows up in the norms of many servant leader cultures. The former chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble, Bob McDonald, put it this way: “How we achieve growth is as important as the results themselves.” Similarly, at Marriott they say, “How we do business is as important as the business we do.” Expressed another way: for the servant leader, the means preexist in the ends.

This stands in contrast to the positional leader, for whom the results take precedence over process; the what supersedes the how; and the end justifies the means. In dramatic cases this may show up as visibly unethical or illegal behavior. But most positional leaders I know are not overtly nefarious. Indeed, their behaviors may appear on the surface to build trust. But when they lack the servant leader intent, closer examination reveals a subtly counterfeit quality to the behaviors.

In The Speed of Trust, I identify behaviors that powerfully build trust. Each of those behaviors has an accompanying opposite and, perhaps more significantly, an accompanying counterfeit, which reflect how a positional leader more typically behaves. For example, one of the behaviors is to demonstrate respect. A positional leader may practice the counterfeit of demonstrating respect only to some—such as those who can do something for him; and not to others—those who can’t.

Similarly, another trust-building behavior is to talk straight. The counterfeit would be to appear to deliver straight talk while in reality withholding or spinning some parts of the message.

You can see the subtle temptations that make these counterfeit behaviors appealing. I find that without self-reflection, many leaders actually believe their counterfeit behaviors come from a place of integrity. But they don’t stand up to scrutiny. These behaviors may generate results for a while, but they’re not sustainable—and worse, they diminish trust. Sooner or later, people always infer your real intent.

4. The strong bias of the servant leader is to extend trust to others. Extending trust to others doesn’t have to be an exercise in blind

gullibility. It is an intentional action I call Smart Trust. It begins with a willingness to trust others—what I refer to as a person’s propensity to trust. It is balanced with an analysis of the stakes and risks of extending that trust, which includes an assessment of the credibility of those being trusted. But the clear and decided bias is to start with trust. That starting

point is what opens up boundless possibilities. The positional leader seeks to control. The servant leader seeks to

unleash talent and creativity by extending trust to others. Why? Because the servant leader fundamentally believes deeply in others—and in their potential.

I truly do empathize with the positional leader! It is a risk to extend trust to others. Many leaders I know have advanced in their careers by minimizing risk. They say, “I want it done right, so I do it myself.” Some are even celebrated for this approach. But this orientation is exhausting, unsustainable, and incapable of delivering the endless innovation, energy, and engagement of an organization that has been electrified by trust.

Muhammed Yunus extended Smart Trust to the masses, and it won him the Nobel Peace Prize. Yunus was a university professor in Bangladesh who was grieved by the vicious cycle of poverty he saw around him. He believed his community would have the capacity to lift itself out of poverty through entrepreneurship if it only had access to capital. A person wouldn’t need a lot of money—just $25, for example, to purchase inventory for a vending cart. Out of this need, and ultimately out of millions of extensions of trust, Yunus founded the global microcredit movement.

Early in the process of making these small loans available to individual people, Yunus encountered a challenge. “The people said they couldn’t provide collateral,” Yunus reflected. “I said I will provide the collateral for them.” And Grameen Bank was born.

Listen to Yunus’s declaration of intent in describing the microcredit movement: “We are going to make a difference and draw people out of poverty. We are going to extend trust and people will thrive in it.” Yunus understood a basic yet powerful principle of trust, which is that people want to be trusted. It’s the most compelling form of human motivation. Grameen Bank has the results to prove this principle: the microcredit movement has helped to lift literally tens of millions of people out of poverty. And the more than 98 percent rate of payback on loans demonstrates the world-changing results that can be achieved when a servant leader extends trust. Compare that to the 88 percent payback rate of traditional small business loans!

5. The purpose of the servant leader is contribution—to make a difference; to give back.

The positional leader serves the bottom line, or the self. The servant

The positional leader serves the bottom line, or the self. The servant leader serves something greater, inspiring trust not only in the leader, but potentially in all of society as well.

Pedro Medina was a businessperson in the Republic of Colombia who helped to establish McDonald’s restaurants there in 1999. He was painfully aware of the volatility of the neighborhoods where he lived and did business. His country was plagued with social instability. Kidnappings and terrorist acts dominated the daily headlines.

While teaching at a local university, he asked his students how many of the talented young people he was investing in intended to leave Colombia after graduation. Most of them raised their hands.

This pained him. “Why do you want to leave?” he asked. They told him, “We have lost hope. Can you tell us why we should stay?”

The question haunted him. So he founded an organization called Yo Creo en Colombia (I Believe in Colombia). A grassroots initiative, the organization’s primary purpose was—and still is—to increase trust and confidence in Colombia, first at home and then abroad. It reaches out to Colombians to advocate for the achievements, potential, and resources of the country, and to leverage them “in order to build a fair, competitive, and inclusive nation.” Since its inception, the foundation has touched hundreds of thousands of Colombians in 157 cities and 26 countries.

Medina created a powerful social movement and did it without positional authority. His efforts have not only taken root at the grassroots level, but also spawned institutional and structural changes at the national level. Three years after Medina began this initiative, a man named Alvaro Uribe, motivated by the impact of Yo Creo en Colombia and the numerous like-minded initiatives it inspired, was elected president on the very platform of restaurando la confianza (“restoring trust”) that Medina had identified. Not only was Uribe able to succeed, he was the first Colombian to be reelected president in over a century. Today there is still great work to do, but the country has made massive strides in restoring trust in security, investment, and social cohesion.

Medina was just an ordinary businessperson with the heart of a servant leader, a vision and purpose bigger than himself, and the courage to take action. That was enough to change his entire country.

Though closely related, trust and servant leadership are not synonymous. But they do share some important commonalities. Both find their genesis in choice. And both are born in the intent of the leader. They are simple disciplines, but they are not easy. In fact, they are hard. Both trust and servant leadership require

they are not easy. In fact, they are hard. Both trust and servant leadership require the full engagement of the leader as well as the courage to set aside self-serving pursuits in the service of other people and higher outcomes.

In fact, you can choose to accelerate your practice of trusting servant leadership right now, at this very moment. It begins with a self-audit and a commitment. Ask yourself:

• What is the level of trust I share with my relationships, my team, my stakeholders?

• What is my real intent? Is it truly to serve others, or is it to serve myself? • What are some opportunities for declaring my real intent to others? • What are some ways in which I can deliberately demonstrate my intent to serve through my behaviors?

Yes, there are risks involved when you set aside your own self-interests and extend trust to those around you. But I believe the greater risk is to withhold trust.

By both inspiring and extending trust, you enable yourself to create a mighty culture of servant leadership that speaks to the highest aspirations of the people you lead. I am confident that within just a few hours of reading this chapter, you will encounter an opportunity to demonstrate your servant leadership intent through trust-building behaviors.

Are you ready to seize that moment?

Stephen M. R. Covey (www.speedoftrust.com) is cofounder of CoveyLink and the FranklinCovey Global Speed of Trust Practice. He is bestselling author of The Speed of Trust, coauthor of Smart Trust, and a sought-after keynote speaker and adviser on trust, leadership, ethics, sales, and high performance. You can follow Covey on Twitter @StephenMRCovey.

Notes 1. Stephen M. R. Covey, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes

Everything (New York: Free Press, 2006). 2. Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg Link, Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity,

Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011).

Chapter 5 Great Leaders SERVE


I met Mark Miller several years ago when I went to Atlanta to speak to all the Chick-fil-A managers. I was instantly blown away by his creative thinking about servant leadership. As a result, he became one of my favorite coauthors, on both The Secret and Great Leaders Grow. When you read this essay, you’ll see what I mean. —KB

ALMOST TWENTY YEARS ago, our team at Chick-fil-A, Inc., began work on a project to accelerate leadership development across the organization. Our first conclusion: we needed a common definition of leadership. Any attempts to scale the process of helping leaders grow would be frustrating, if not futile, without a clear picture of success.

After a lot of research, discussion, and debate, we thought we might have an idea worth pursuing. However, we had what I would call a crisis of confidence as we looked at a simple outline representing our point of view. I clearly remember one of the group members saying, “What if this isn’t right?”

Although collectively we had read a couple of hundred books on leadership, we knew a lot more about chicken than we did creating a leadership culture. We knew the stakes were high: we were about to declare our very definition of leadership. Such a simple and definitive statement would drive countless hours of development, tens of millions of dollars of investment, and, perhaps most important, this definition would shape the caliber of our leaders for decades to come.

Then someone said, “I have an idea . . . What if we seek some outside perspective?” Well, you can chalk it up to coincidence or divine intervention, but I was scheduled to be with Ken Blanchard the next day! I offered to share our outline with him, and the team was in full agreement.

outline with him, and the team was in full agreement. I’ll never forget that encounter with Ken. I handed him a single sheet of paper

and quickly explained how we were trying to accelerate leadership development. And then I said, “Do you think our model is true? Have we missed anything? Will it stand the test of time?”

Ken’s response was strong and immediate: “This has got to be a book!” As you may or may not know, that conversation led to my first book with

Ken, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do.1 He and I took a simple outline and transformed it into a parable that today is being shared around the world in more than twenty-five languages.

Why has the book been so successful? Besides Ken’s powerful global brand, I think the book has struck a chord in the hearts and minds of leaders around the planet because of the truth contained within its pages. The secret is out!

Here’s a quick overview of five strategic ways great leaders SERVE:

See and shape the future. Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. Leaders who cannot paint a compelling picture of a preferred future are in jeopardy of forfeiting their leadership. People want to know: Where are we going? What are we trying to accomplish? What are we trying to become? And why does it matter? We encourage leaders not to give away their influence by failing to answer these critical questions. If you don’t know the answers, start figuring them out. Clarity will often come in the midst of activity. If you are stuck, get moving. Who wants to follow a leader who doesn’t know where they are trying to go? When the vision is clear and compelling, it will create life, energy, and momentum.

Engage and develop others. Ken and I were writing about engagement before it was cool—but make no mistake, it has always been critical. Engagement is about creating the context for people to thrive. The annual engagement survey of American workers, year after year, paints a grim picture of staggeringly low engagement. This is not an indictment of the workers; it is the leaders who need to make a change. The reason development is called out is because of its critical importance. Yes, it could be considered a strategy for raising engagement levels. However, it could also be missed. We believe leaders who are not proactively developing others are missing a vital aspect of their role.

Reinvent continuously. This fundamental of great leaders is a big idea. Most leaders have heard the expression “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll

get what you always got.” To make progress, to move forward, to accomplish bigger and better, something has to change! To help leaders break it down into manageable pieces we talk about three arenas, each having its own diagnostic questions. Self: How are you reinventing yourself? Systems: Which work processes need to change to generate better results? Structure: What structural changes could you make to better enable the accomplishment of your goals? There are many more questions, but these will usually start a productive conversation.

Value results and relationships. This is the tenet that generates the most angst for many leaders. Having taught this content around the globe for almost twenty years, there is no doubt in my mind this is the most challenging element of our model. Would you agree? I bet you would. The reason: virtually every leader has a natural bias. Our wiring pulls us toward one or the other. This is not necessarily bad—but if we aren’t careful, it can severely limit our effectiveness. Having a default setting won’t destroy your leadership if you can successfully compensate for your bias. The best leaders value both! There is a principle at play here: the tremendous power in the tension. Our challenge as leaders is to manage the tension. Only then can we productively channel its power.

Embody the values. People always watch the leader—whether we want them to or not! They are generally looking for clues regarding what’s important to the leader. They are also trying to determine if the leader is trustworthy. So what’s the link between embodying the values and trustworthiness? If a leader says something is important, people expect that person to live like it’s important. The gap between what we say and do as leaders can be lethal. People generally don’t follow a leader they don’t trust. Worse yet, if someone doesn’t trust the leader but stays on the payroll, you don’t have an advocate for your organization and your culture, you have an adversary. Leaders must do everything humanly possible to walk the talk!

Are you ready to become a serving leader? I hope so! I have one closing thought for you. If you are looking for the latest techniques

in coercing people to do your bidding, you can continue your search. Servant leadership is not for you. It’s not a strategy or shortcut to success. However, if you are willing to begin the long journey of adding value to others, putting their interests ahead of your own, helping them win, and mastering the five fundamentals we just reviewed, you will enjoy new levels of success,

satisfaction, and impact. Great leaders SERVE!

In more than thirty years with Chick-fil-A, Mark Miller has served in numerous leadership capacities including restaurant operations, quality and customer satisfaction, and corporate communications. He travels extensively, teaching on a variety of topics including teams, servant leadership, and training. He is the author of Chess Not Checkers, The Secret of Teams, The Heart of Leadership, and his latest, Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture. He is also coauthor with Ken Blanchard of Great Leaders Grow and the international bestseller The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. Follow Mark Miller on Twitter: @LeadersServe.

Note 1. Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know

and Do (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2009, 2014).

Chapter 6 Servant Leadership

What Does It Really Mean?


I’ve come to admire Mark Floyd from our work together at conferences designed to spread the word about servant leadership. He’s not only a successful entrepreneur, but also an extraordinary thinker about what it takes to be a servant leader. Mark and I both believe that everyone is a potential servant leader. Regardless of whether we have an organizational position, we are all potential servant leaders as we interact with others on a day-today basis, as Mark emphasizes in this essay. —KB

SERVANT LEADERSHIP IS about helping people succeed both professionally and individually. It’s all about serving those you are responsible for and those you are responsible to.

Who was the greatest servant leader of all time? There is no doubt in my mind it was Jesus. He demonstrated it in His time and continues to demonstrate it today. It’s in His nature. We mortals think we have to work at being servant leaders, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s amazing—for me, the harder I tried to be a servant leader, the tougher it was. But the more I prayed about it and let it just enter me, the easier and better it was.

Who are potential servant leaders? We all are. Whether you’re a CEO, a self- employed professional, a stock room clerk, a receptionist, a stay-at-home parent, or a good friend to someone—whatever you do, at times you are a leader. What

you do every day—what people see you do—is a reflection on yourself, your faith, your life, and everything else. So what I’m talking about in this essay is you as a leader. I hope my thoughts will help.

Don’t Let Other People Set Your Leadership Style for You I remember my first job out of college when I went to work for a Fortune 500 company. I had great respect for the CEO and for the company. It had a great culture that had been developed by the founder. My first couple of weeks there, I listened to tapes that helped me define the company and its style and values. Shortly afterward, though, a new CEO came on board with a different leadership style—one I didn’t particularly care for. I was a young, naïve guy, but I noticed that the whole organization was changing. People were changing their leadership styles to adapt to this person—the new CEO. He was very terse, demeaning, and demanding. From my vantage point he wasn’t a very good leader—he was the antithesis of what servant leadership is all about. As time went on, I found that most of the organization was moving in his direction. I told myself I couldn’t go there—it wasn’t my leadership style. The CEO eventually left the company and a new leader came in and turned things back around. Today it is a very successful company. So hold true to your leadership style. Don’t let influences change you. You change the influences.

Servant Leadership Works in Any Type of Organization A business should be functional. If you ever see an organizational chart for your company, pick out your name. If you have at least one name below you that has a line to you, you’re considered a manager.

Now notice all the people at the bottom of the chart: the sales people, clerks, accounting people, receptionists, and others who don’t have anyone reporting to them. Those are the people who talk to the customers. I believe that to reflect reality you need to take the chart and turn it upside down. That way, the CEO and the management teams serve the employees who serve the customers. Ken Blanchard said it right: “How can you serve your customers with excellence when your people are serving the CEO?”

In Mark 9:35, after the disciples have talked among themselves about which of them was the greatest, Jesus says, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” That’s what servant leadership is about.

The Importance of Your Organizational Culture

Some companies are known for great products, great designs, and the way they take care of their people. Southwest Airlines, for example, is an amazing organization. Southwest’s founder and former president, Herb Kelleher, once had a dispute with a gentleman in North Carolina about the use of a name. Lawsuits were being threatened and they needed to figure out a way to settle the dispute. Finally, Herb said, “Look, I’m just going to fly out to where you are and I’ll arm wrestle you for it.” He actually did this—and he lost. So he relinquished the name. I think that was pretty classy.

My wife likes Nordstrom. It is my understanding that they have a shoe department that is five times bigger than most department stores. Anyway, they do great things. She tells me if you buy something and don’t like it, you can take it back—they just refund your money. If you go down a list of these or other great companies such as Apple, Google, and Whole Foods Market, you’ll find the organizational culture—what they value and live by—is defined and understood by everyone from the management team all the way through the employee base. Your culture can’t help but manifest itself in the position you have in the industry. I’ll guarantee you: it’s not the product that makes the difference. It’s the people involved who sell it, service it, manage it, talk to customers, help them find what they need, and do all the little extra things. That’s why customers come back.

Let me tell you about the opposite of a great company. One night I came home from work, flipped on my television, and got a blank screen. Nothing was happening. So I called the cable company and talked to about five different machines before I got a person. We talked for several minutes and finally she decided she needed to send a service rep out. Four days later, a guy came to my door and fixed the cable. When I asked what had happened, he said, “We were installing a service next door to you and our own guy cut your cable by mistake.”

When I received my bill, I naïvely thought those four days without service would be deducted from the bill. But they weren’t. I thought It wasn’t that much money, don’t worry about it. But then I decided that these people need to learn that they can’t let something like this happen. So I called them and after a few recordings, I reached a live person who couldn’t help me. I thought about contacting their CEO—but I looked at the stock market listings and found that this company’s stock was at the bottom of its industry. So I figured that this CEO probably had more important things on his plate and didn’t need to hear about the four extra days on my bill. So I left it alone.

Leadership Teams Are Important When you put together a team, two different dynamics are working: the vertical and the horizontal. The vertical is your position. I had a VP of sales, a VP of marketing, a VP of human resources, a VP of engineering, and a CEO. That’s the management team. The horizontal is the company goals, mission, and vision statement. This is what we’re doing—what we’re all about.

What happens in a lot of companies is that the vertical starts taking over the horizontal. Too many people start forgetting about the big picture—the reason for existence—and start worrying about their vertical position. The VP of engineering is too worried about his department to help out. The VP of finance is worried about her budgets getting in on time. Each department has its problems and responsibilities and no one other than the sales person is focused on the customer. But the whole idea of the enterprise is to grow the employees and take care of your customers—so what is the answer?

I went to a staff meeting in my organization and issued everybody on my team new business cards. Except for the person’s name, they were all the same —including the title. The title under each person’s name was “Vice President.” It didn’t say of engineering, sales, manufacturing, or any other department. It just said “Vice President.” The point is that when you are a servant leader, whatever you do has to support the mission you are trying to accomplish. The more you communicate with and serve your employees, the more naturally this happens. But if you have your organization set up where you are dictating down, I guarantee that your people will get into their vertical mode and forget about the horizontal. That’s why a lot of companies don’t do well.

One day, a young leader—whom I thought of highly and had mentored— came to me and said, “Mark, I have a very important issue I really want to talk to you about.” He was on his own, running his own little department. He said, “I really need a vice president title.”

I said, “Really? Vice president of what?” “You know, vice president of my department. I can’t get things done because

people disregard me sometimes. If I had that title, I would have the power to be the leader everyone wants. I would be respected. I could get things done.”

I told him, “You’re only a leader if you turn around and people are following you. Titles don’t mean anything.”

Servant Leaders Are Self-Aware I think one of the hardest things for people to do is to be self-aware. I’m not good at it. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I recently had a meeting

good at it. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I recently had a meeting where someone asked me what my strengths and weaknesses are. I started thinking—my strengths? I couldn’t think of anything. Weaknesses? Also nothing. I later took time to reflect on my leadership and came to the conclusion that there’s only one person who has ever walked this earth who was perfect, and I’m certainly not in that category. But it made me realize I have to be more self- aware as a leader because it is a valuable part of servant leadership. We all have blind spots. When you figure out your blind spots, you can serve people much better.

Do the Right Thing I was once asked to talk to a board of directors and chairman of a company who wanted to replace their CEO. The chairman said to me, “Mark, I want a take- charge executive with a take-no-prisoners attitude.” I thought that sounded pretty interesting. I knew what he thought he wanted, and I clearly understood what he said, but I didn’t think he had a clue what he was asking for—and neither did the board. When an organization goes sideways, sometimes boards and management want to swing the pendulum all the way to the other side. If a company has a leader who is ineffective for building teams or closing big deals, the board wants to go get a high-powered sales manager to come in and stay with the company to close big deals. But the person they would choose may not have the interpersonal skills to run inside the organization—because they want a gunslinger.

I decided to translate what I thought he was looking for. I said, “Here’s what I think you want. You want a strong leader who is capable of leading your organization toward positive change. What you really need is a servant leader.”

He looked at me kind of funny and said, “No, no, no. I need someone who is going to take charge and right this ship.”

People hear the phrase servant leader and think it means someone who is always congenial and nice, and handles everything with kid gloves. But look at Jesus. He threw out the money lenders in the temple with tough love. Servant leadership means you do the right thing. Every CEO knows what decisions need to be made and what the right answer is. They might not know all the details but I think they know the right direction to go.

So I told the board, “You need a servant leader to come in here and take care of the two largest constituencies you have in this enterprise: your customers and your employees. How well they do that will directly affect how well or how poorly the company will perform.”

Their response was, “We’ve got to think about profitability.”

Their response was, “We’ve got to think about profitability.” But companies that focus on running their company only for the numbers get

in trouble. I can list many, many companies that got into trouble because they quit focusing on their customers and employees and just focused on the numbers. The important thing is how well you run your business—not the numbers themselves.

I’m telling you, business is really not that difficult. Just do the right thing. Whether you run a dry cleaning business or a multimillion-dollar company—you know the right thing to do. Just do it.

Servant leaders are not always perfect, but they stay true to their leadership style. They stay humble by turning the organizational chart upside down and serving others. They communicate to their teams the goals and values that form their culture so that everyone stays in focus. They are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses—through feedback and by following the greatest servant leader of all time. And they continually strive to do the right thing.

God Bless!

Mark A. Floyd is a venture partner at TDF Ventures and chairman of the board at Ciber, Inc. He was the recipient of the 2001 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Southwest region. He holds a BBA in finance from the University of Texas at Austin and an honorary doctorate of science in business from Southeastern University.

Chapter 7 Servant Leaders Create a Great Place to Work

for All


I’m a great believer in catching people doing things right. The first time I heard Michael Bush speak at a conference, I knew he was a great believer in catching organizations doing things right. As a result, he took the helm at Great Place to Work and has been traveling around the country looking for organizations that have a servant leadership culture. I think you’ll be fascinated by the common characteristics these great companies have when you read Michael’s essay. —KB

MY ORGANIZATION, CONSULTING and research firm Great Place to Work, has spent more than two decades studying and celebrating the best workplaces around the world. Since 1998 we have produced the annual Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list as well as other best workplaces lists. We operate in more than 50 countries and each year our Trust Index© survey captures the views of roughly 10 million employees globally. We, along with other scholars, have documented the way the 100 Best have outperformed peers in terms of profitability, revenue growth, stock performance, and other key business measures.

But we also see a shift to a new era—a new frontier in business. This largely uncharted territory is about developing every ounce of human potential so that businesses can reach their full potential. To do those things, the best workplaces know they have to create an outstanding culture for everyone, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization. The best workplaces have to build what we call a Great Place to Work For All. These companies have employees

across the board who consistently trust their leaders, take pride in their work, and enjoy their colleagues—the three core elements of a great workplace.

These emerging organizations develop and support leaders toward a servant mindset and approach—that is, they cultivate servant leaders who create cultures where all people feel trusted, empowered, supported, and treated fairly.

In these companies, leaders relinquish the autocratic, command-and-control ways that dominated business cultures in the twentieth century. Thanks to a shift to servant leadership, lower-ranked employees experience more passion about work, collaborate more, and engage in innovation behaviors that propel the business. These leaders also reject what’s been common management practice for decades: claiming people are your greatest asset but really valuing only about 10 percent or so of the souls in the upper echelons of the company. That elitist approach to business leaves human potential on the table, ultimately letting down individuals who work there as well as the business itself.

By contrast, the leaders of companies identified as Great Places to Work For All appreciate and develop the talents of everyone at every level of the organization—from the basement boiler room to the penthouse C-suite.

What does servant leadership look like at a company identified as a Great Place to Work For All? Five features stand out:

• Trust at the top. Leaders at Great Places to Work For All establish trusting relationships on their executive team. They know servant leadership is only effective and sustainable when the executive can fully trust the people they work with. If a high level of trust is not present, the leader cannot humbly serve and selflessly support people. The trusting mindset servant leaders need to maintain is possible only when the leader is surrounded by people they see as highly credible, consistently respectful, and fair to everyone they meet. The leader, of course, must be seen in an identical way. Trust at the top is the first step in becoming a servant leader. We find the hard work related to this step often is avoided due to the “but that person is an outstanding individual performer” excuse. But when this first step is avoided, it leads to a servant leader being a servant leader to some but not all.

• A generous trust mindset. Leaders at Great Places to Work For All trust people in general. They see others in the organization as glasses half full rather than half empty. They extend trust widely to a large number of people, including those on the front lines and those who may look different from them. And they extend trust deeply, giving each person the benefit of the doubt. That’s not to say these leaders are naïve—they will not tolerate the

same mistakes endlessly. But their default position when a teammate fails is curiosity rather than condemnation. They have an abiding faith that people can grow and that they generally want to do the right thing. It’s a mindset summed up by Jim Goodnight, CEO of software firm SAS Institute, a longtime Fortune 100 Best company: “If you treat your employees like they make a difference, they will.”

• Decentralized power. Leaders at Great Places to Work For All free people to work autonomously and include others in decision making. They know people need significant control over their jobs to reach their full potential. There’s no room for micromanagement. Beyond providing employees with autonomy in their day-to-day tasks, leaders at these companies actively seek their people’s input and feedback on matters ranging from team projects to organizational strategy. Leaders in these settings do not abdicate their power. In fact, the respect they show to employees—their vulnerability in sharing authority— increases their own influence even as others have a voice. Construction firm TDIndustries, a Fortune 100 Best mainstay, captures the wisdom of employee empowerment with its principles around communication: “No rank in the room,” “Everyone participates—no one dominates,” and “Listen as an ally.”

• Caring support. Leaders at companies identified as a Great Place to Work For All care for their people. They support them as holistic human beings, encouraging their well-being both in and out of work. This starts with getting to know employees as people, extends to training and development opportunities, and includes benefits such as health insurance. While servant leaders in the past may have been motivated by a sense of duty, today a raft of science justifies a big heart. Google, for example, has found that psychological safety is the key factor in its most effective teams. Our own research, meanwhile, has found that a caring community is one of the strongest drivers of revenue growth at small and medium workplaces with high-trust cultures. We have also discovered that a key disparity at work between whites and ethnic minorities is whether employees perceive a caring climate.

• Intentional fairness. Leaders at Great Places to Work For All work deliberately to treat all people fairly. They know that fairness is at the heart of the employee experience. It is central to trusting relationships, serves as a foundation for empowering employees to make decisions, and is crucial to people feeling genuinely cared for. Fairness is a simple concept. But it is not easy for leaders to achieve—especially in large, complex organizations. Fair treatment in pay and other matters isn’t necessarily equal treatment, given

different job levels and responsibilities. Persistence, courage, and creativity are required to change a socioeconomic system that historically has been unfair. But the Best Workplaces have made significant progress over the past twenty years, according to results from our Trust Index Employee Survey. Employee ratings of fairness have improved 22 percent at the 100 Best from 1998 to 2017, outpacing the other four workplace dimensions we measure (respect, credibility, pride, and camaraderie).

Serving People, Serving Business Leaders at Great Places to Work For All who establish high-trust executive teams, who trust people, share power, care for employees, and strive for fairness serve their people well. They also serve their business. Our research into the 100 Best shows that companies identified as Great Places to Work For All grow faster than their less inclusive competitors. In studying the 100 Best alongside the nonwinning contender companies for 2017, we discovered that the more consistent an organization is regarding key factors related to innovation, leadership effectiveness, and trust in the workplace, the more likely it will outperform peers when it comes to revenue growth.

The Great Place to Work For All Score (see Figure 7.1) is a composite measure of how consistently employees rate their workplace on metrics related to innovation, leadership effectiveness, and trust, regardless of who they are and what they do within their organization. Companies in the top quartile on these metrics enjoy three times the revenue growth of companies in the bottom quartile.

To see how servant leadership focused on fairness pays off for all parties, consider the $3 million investment that Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and his team made to address gender pay inequities in 2015. Along with a host of other equality efforts at the software firm to make all employees feel fully valued and included, this move has reaped results:

• Better for business. Salesforce is becoming a beacon for talented women in technology and is enjoying the fruits of a more fully engaged workforce. The percentage of women employees who say they want to work at Salesforce for a long time rose from 85 percent in 2014 to 93 percent in 2016. Also, 92 percent of female employees in 2016 said people look forward to work at Salesforce, up from 85 percent in 2014. Not surprisingly, the company has been growing faster than its rivals.

Figure 7.1 Great Places to Work For All race ahead

• Better for people. In the wake of the pay equity push, women at Salesforce have a better work experience and all staffers feel more pride about their employer. In 2014, 84 percent of women at Salesforce felt pay was fair at the company, compared to 91 percent of men. By 2016, the share of women perceiving their pay as fair had climbed to 90 percent. The focus on leveling up women didn’t make men feel overlooked—91 percent of men continued to believe people get paid fairly. And for both sexes, levels of pride climbed such that in 2016, a whopping 97 percent of both men and women reported feeling proud when telling others they work at Salesforce.

• Better for the world. Happy Salesforce employees go home to be better parents, friends, and neighbors, even as the company—like many other best workplaces—gives generously to the community. Against the backdrop of the pay equity initiative and a major focus on mindfulness as a way to prevent stress, the share of employees who rate Salesforce a “psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work” rose from 83 percent in 2014 to 89 percent in 2016. Also, Salesforce operates a 1-1-1 integrated philanthropy model, through which it contributes 1 percent of its equity, product, and employee time back into the community. As part of that giving back effort, the company has donated more than $137 million in grants since it was founded in 1999.

Work as Church Salesforce, as well as most of the organizations we work with, is secular by nature. But the leaders of companies building Great Places to Work For All act in keeping with the great faith traditions, regardless of personal religion or

in keeping with the great faith traditions, regardless of personal religion or spiritual beliefs. They demonstrate humility, elevate the least powerful, and treat all people with dignity. In fact, these leaders turn work into a kind of church. Great Places to Work For All bring out the best in people as individuals and as members of the human community. We have documented, for example, how employees at the 100 Best have felt increasing levels of solidarity and connection with colleagues over the past two decades.

The world desperately needs more of these companies—companies that can help heal the economic, social, and political divides that have emerged in recent decades. Great Places to Work For All can act as servant institutions, as conceived by author Robert K. Greenleaf: “If a better society is to be built, one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people, then the most open course is to raise both the capacity to serve and the very performance as servant of existing major institutions by new regenerative forces operating within them.”1

At Great Place to Work, we have a vision similar to Greenleaf’s. Our mission is “to build a better world by helping organizations become Great Places to Work For All.” Servant leaders are needed in these organizations. Given that Great Places to Work For All are the way forward for business, we are hopeful that more and more leaders will see themselves as servants first; that these leaders will establish the trust on their teams that is the crucial first step; and that these leaders will put themselves in service of a better future.

Michael C. Bush is CEO of the SaaS-enabled research and consulting firm Great Place to Work (www.greatplacetowork.com). Michael is a founding board member of Fund Good Jobs, a private equity seed fund, and was a member of President Barack Obama’s White House Business Council. He is the author of A Great Place to Work For All: Better for Business, Better for People, Better for the World.

Note 1. Robert K. Greenleaf, “The Institution as Servant” (Westfield, IN: The

Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, 1972).

Chapter 8 The Leader as Shepherd


I met Holly Culhane seventeen years ago when she became an independent consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies to help us spread the word about our training programs. We became better acquainted a few years later through our Lead Like Jesus ministry, where she is one of our certified trainers. What I love most about Holly is that she continually challenges her own thinking and explores new ideas. I think you’ll admire that aspect of her, too, when you read her essay. —KB

A WHILE BACK, in reference to a self-serving leadership scandal I had experienced, a wise and dear friend remarked, “A shepherd is supposed to lay down his life for his sheep.” The analogy hit me hard. The self-serving leaders involved hadn’t considered the needs of their followers a priority—but were first only concerned about their own well-being.

I had heard the term shepherding in a leadership context from time to time in speeches, books, and the media. Earnest leaders spend much time discussing the values of servant leadership. But was there a skill or tool or philosophy of shepherds that would bring even more depth and meaning to those lessons of leadership?

What did the word “shepherd” mean beyond Webster’s definitions: “a person who herds, tends or guards sheep” and “a person who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people”?

Fascinated by this concept, I did internet searches, read books about shepherding, and conducted interviews with modern-day shepherds. I learned about methodologies and medical techniques, philosophies and opinions,

processes and procedures. It became clear that the term shepherd needed consideration from a servant leadership perspective.1

After researching multiple interviews, articles, and even readings of ancient prophets, a premise emerged: shepherding is a universal—and I would say godly —leadership principle. It applies to supervising and managing at work in for- profit and nonprofit organizations and the government sector, parenting and partnering at home, and friendships and work relationships across cultures, socioeconomic levels, ethnicities, and generations. Everyone who is interested in becoming a servant leader can connect with the message of shepherding. After all, a shepherd is the ultimate example of a servant leader, often laying down their life for the sheep.

It became clear that it was time for me to develop this remarkably simple yet uniquely profound concept.

True Shepherding The responsibilities of a shepherd are to ensure that the sheep are in good health on a consistent basis, well fed, and shielded from predators. The needs of sheep are remarkably similar to the needs of people. Sheep need:

• a calming presence to rest; • discipline to stay on task with the flock; • a leader who knows their condition and responds accordingly; and • special attention when they are young, new to a flock, or struggling.

Sheep have no desire for change. In fact, it takes some time for them to produce wool again after their lifestyle has been altered in any way. They can be the most beneficial of all livestock when well managed—and they can be destructive, causing ruin almost beyond remedy, when mismanaged.

Sound familiar? If you’re a parent, a pastor, a coach, or a supervisor, you’ll immediately see the analogy for what people and sheep need to perform well.

The Leader’s Shield: Provision, Protection, and Presence The skills that make up the job description of a responsible shepherd are the same as those of an effective servant leader. Every responsibility of a shepherd and, ultimately, of a servant leader, can be captured in three words: provision, protection, and presence. Effective shepherding is grounded in these three pivotal elements of leadership. It’s only when provision, protection, and

presence are intertwined that shepherds can truly fulfill their calling as leaders. Good shepherds care for sheep, providing nourishment and ensuring the

availability of clean water. Similarly, effective servant leaders care for team members or family, providing a suitable space for them to work or live and resources to sustain them. Pastors and priests provide nourishment through their teaching for those under their care.

Good shepherds delight in the flock, shelter them from storms, protect them from enemies, and keep them healthy. Effective servant leaders take pleasure in the successes of their team or family, protect them from danger, and as much as possible ensure their physical and emotional health.

Good shepherds ensure their sheep are free from stress and conflict with other sheep. They bring a calming presence and make sure those that stray are quickly brought back to the flock. Effective servant leaders address problems between employees or family members when they arise and strive to assist those who are struggling, while offering a reassuring and comforting presence.

Good shepherds guide, train, and discipline the sheep when necessary. Effective servant leaders praise employees, congregants, or family members when things are going well, redirect when behavior dictates, and provide training, development, coaching, and opportunities for growth.

Effective shepherds and servant leaders provide, protect, and are present at a variety of levels. We use these definitions for the three terms:

Provision: To take care of or to furnish or supply the need of another.

Protection: The act of safeguarding, shielding from harm, or guarding against danger.

Presence: At hand—physically and/or emotionally available and engaged.

These three pivotal elements form the Leader’s Shield—not to protect the leader from those they lead but, in fact, to act as a shield for those they lead.

What would employee engagement statistics look like if leaders at work cared for their people at a level that encompassed provision, protection, and presence? What would the future of the world’s children be if parents and care-givers shepherded them with an emphasis on all three elements? Would prison overcrowding become a concern of the past? Would the turnover rate of volunteers drop if nonprofits, churches, synagogues, and mosques truly shepherded those who gave of their time, talents, and treasure to further the mission of their organizations?

Provision, Protection, and Presence in Action There’s no formulaic equation to determine how the three responsibilities in the Leader’s Shield are demonstrated. Every work, home, and volunteer environment, as well as different cultures of countries or organizations, will dictate how leaders live out provision, protection, and presence.

The shepherd’s rod has always provided discipline to help sheep make the right choices. The shepherd’s staff represents protection and is on hand to pull the sheep to safety or to help them avoid slipping into a ravine or crevice. The shepherd’s presence allows both of these tools to be available when needed and provides a trust and peace the sheep need to live well and produce effectively.

For an entrepreneur, supervisor, or manager in a first world country, provision may be a necessary piece of equipment or a fair wage. Protection may be ergonomically designed chairs and desks or a facilitated conflict resolution meeting when a team is struggling. Presence may be responding to emails in a timely manner or electronic face-to-face chats when the leader isn’t personally available. In a third world environment, provision may be paying transportation fees for employees. Protection may include ensuring that employees leave their work environment in time to arrive at home before dark, or assisting them in techniques of how to address potential bribery by vendors. Presence may look similar in many settings. It may include the leader being available for conversations, seeking people’s input with problem solving, and helping address concerns with coworkers.

In the case of a parent, provision may include providing basic food and shelter for a child or assisting with funding a college education. Protection may be an emotionally safe environment where family members can learn and thrive as they share life together. Presence may take the form of electronics-free family time, date nights between partners, attending children’s important events, or listening attentively to a teenager’s angst over friendships or high school.

Leaders of volunteers may demonstrate provision by assuring that people know how their tasks are to be performed. They may demonstrate protection by assuring that conflict among volunteers is addressed, and presence by candid, face-to-face communication, holding meetings on a consistent basis, or seeking volunteers’ feedback in their areas of expertise.

It’s important to add two additional points of interest with regard to these responsibilities. First, whether a behavior is defined as provision, protection, or presence is not imperative. What is imperative is for the leader to be conscientious in carrying out these responsibilities. Second, presence is not about simply attending an event or an online conference call—it is about focused

attention. People want their leaders to be engaged in what they do. Engaged presence is a significant behavior that separates a shepherd from every other kind of leader.

The Reality We humans are complicated beings—difficult to understand, at times a struggle to lead, and imperfect in our actions and responses. It’s often easier to love the child who challenges and stretches our leadership than the coworker, team member, or volunteer who pushes our limits. But remember: we don’t have the option of discriminating between those we shepherd well and those we leave in need.

As I studied biblical writings describing the shepherd, it was clear the responsibilities within this leadership concept are to be applied for the benefit of everyone servant leaders work to influence—even in lateral relationships such as peers and friends. Servant leaders are called to shepherd well when they take on any influence or leadership role. And the Leader’s Shield is a tool to be implemented at all times—not just in comfortable circumstances. The reality is that our responsibility as servant leaders is to shepherd well all of those in our care.

Intention and Informed Purpose A number of organizations are seeing remarkable results in how their teams work together and perform when servant leaders ramp up their attention to provision, protection, and presence. The same is true of families who focus on all three areas of responsibility.

It is crucial that every person who wants to be a servant leader is intentional in the provision, protection, and presence provided to people in their life. As shepherds we must be purposefully informed and able to answer the question of why we do what we do. Intention and informed purpose must support each action, decision, and step we take as a shepherd on the servant leadership journey. The people in our lives are too important for us to offer them less.

Holly Culhane is CEO and founder of Presence Point, Inc. (www.presencepoint.com), a nonprofit organization focused on helping people live into their calling as shepherd leaders. She is also consultant emeritus with P•A•S Associates, an HR consulting firm she founded in 1987. She is a leadership coach and consultant who facilitates leadership development workshops with The Ken Blanchard Companies and Lead Like Jesus. She also

serves a variety of nonprofit organizations through board involvement.

Note 1. Dr. Owen Phelps, in The Catholic Vision for Leading like Jesus

(Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 2009), captures this concept when he boldly states that an effective leader is a combination of servant, steward, and shepherd.

Chapter 9 The Evolution of Servant Leadership


Simon Sinek and I met at a conference where I first heard him talk about his “Start with Why” philosophy. The clarity of his thinking really impressed me. Then when I read his book Leaders Eat Last, I knew we were soul mates. I am elated that he agreed to participate in this book. I knew whatever he chose to write would be creative and would stimulate new thinking. This essay did that for me, and I’m sure it will do the same for you. —KB

LEADERSHIP IS HARD. So why should an aspiring leader add the extra burden of service to their role? A strong argument can be made that the additional work is worth it based on the results servant leadership can achieve. The problem is, any authority who eschews the servant part of the leadership role can line up case studies to prove their point of view that they can achieve strong results without it. The real answer to why we should make an effort to practice servant leadership requires an understanding of where servant leadership comes from and why it matters. The reason servant leadership matters is, in fact, firmly grounded in our anthropology.

Homo sapiens have roamed this planet for about fifty thousand years. During the Paleolithic era, the world was full of uncertainty and great danger. Whether it was lack of food or resources, extreme weather, or wild animals, around every corner were unpredictable and often violent forces that could—and often did— kill us. As we were neither the strongest nor the fastest animals on the planet, there was only one way we were going to survive and thrive: together.

It wasn’t just our big brains that gave us an edge in those dangerous times; it was also our ability to cooperate. And trust was the name of the game. The more

we trusted those with whom we lived and worked, the more likely we were to coordinate our efforts, align around common interests, and work together to take care of the tribe. If someone fell asleep at night, for example, they could trust that other members of the tribe would wake them and alert them to danger. That’s a good system for survival of individuals and the group as a whole. If they hadn’t been able to trust each other, no one would ever have gone to sleep at night. That’s a bad system for survival.

Nothing has changed in our modern world. Though the dangers are different, our brain chemistry and how we work together remain the same. A lack of food and wild animals, for example, may have been replaced by the uncertainty of the stock market or the unpredictability of economies and world events, but our ability to survive and thrive in our modern world is still based on how well we cooperate. And that depends on how much we trust those in our tribe.

But there is a problem. Trust isn’t an instruction. We can’t just tell people to trust us. Leaders can’t simply order their employees to trust them. It doesn’t work that way. Trust is a feeling. And that feeling is a biological reaction to the environments in which we live and work. That’s why we have leaders in the first place: leaders shape the environment.

As social animals, we respond to the environments we are in. If we take a good person and put them in a bad environment, the odds increase that that person will do bad things. If we take a person who is considered untrustworthy, who may even have performed bad acts, and put them in a good environment, they are capable of turning their lives around and becoming a valuable and trusted member of the group. When a leader gets the environment right, the normal human response is trust and cooperation. When they get it wrong, cynicism, paranoia, mistrust, and self-interest prevail.

In a toxic work environment, trust is replaced by fear or anxiety. When we fear making mistakes or fear losing our jobs if we miss our numbers, for example, the natural human reaction is to put ourselves before anyone or anything else—including ethics and sometimes the law. This is what happened at United Airlines on April 9, 2017. The airline had oversold the flight, a common practice. After they boarded all their ticketed passengers, the crew asked for volunteers to give up their seats for four United employees who needed to travel to work other flights. No passengers volunteered, so the crew did what the rule book said to do: they randomly selected passengers and demanded that they leave the aircraft. One of those passengers was Dr. David Dao, who was flying home to Louisville, Kentucky. A paying customer, Dr. Dao refused to leave his seat. And again the crew did what the rule book stated: they called security

guards to forcibly remove him. In the ensuing melee, Dr. Dao lost two teeth, suffered a significant concussion, and got a broken nose at the hands of four security personnel. Other passengers captured the incident on video, which went viral online, forcing United Airlines to admit their failure and change their policies.

Policies, however, were only part of the problem. Other airlines have similar policies but don’t end up assaulting paying customers in the course of following those policies. The bigger problem at United Airlines was the culture. It was a fear-based environment in which employees were more afraid to break a rule than to do the right thing. I can almost guarantee that no crew members on that flight thought what they were doing was a good idea or even fair practice. But given the culture in which they worked, I expect many defended their actions with “I was just following the rules” or “I was doing what the company told me to do.”

Only when people feel trusted by and are able to trust their leadership; only when people feel they can make mistakes without fear of dismissal; and only when people feel they can break a rule because it’s the right thing to do without fear of humiliation or retribution will a company ever inspire their people to work at their natural best—our most productive, innovative and cooperative selves. In a strong leadership environment, leaders don’t trust their people to follow the rules—they trust them to know when to break the rules. Rules are there for when things run normally. But sometimes, when things go wrong, following the rules to the letter can actually make things worse.

In weak leadership environments, all the decision-making power is focused at the top. Leaders in these environments expect information to be pushed up to those in authority positions. Servant leaders do the opposite. They push authority down to those with the information. And in that kind of environment, people feel accountable for and trusted to do the job for which they’ve been trained without leaders putting undue pressure or stress on them or using fear to drive them.

If giving people authority makes an organization run better, then why not get rid of the leaders altogether? It seems like a logical conclusion. But leaders exist for a reason. For 40,000 of the 50,000 years our species has inhabited this planet, we lived in populations of about 150 people. And given the times in which we were living, there were some obvious challenges. If hunters and gatherers brought food back to the tribe, for example, who would get to eat first? I mean, if you were built like a professional wrestler, you could shove your way to the front of the line. However, if you were the “artist” of the family, you were one of those who got shoved to the side. But odds are, if you elbowed someone in the

face that afternoon, they probably wouldn’t wake you and alert you to danger that night. That’s a bad system if we are stronger as a cooperative group than we are as individuals.

To avoid this reality and better equip us for cooperation, we evolved into hierarchical animals. We constantly assessed and judged those around us to figure out who was more dominant or senior. We tried to figure out who was alpha. Instead of fighting to be the first to eat, we would defer to the hierarchy. If we assessed that others were more senior in the social hierarchy, we would voluntarily step back and allow our alphas to eat first. And though we may not have had first choice of meat, we would have been guaranteed food and we wouldn’t get an elbow in the face. This is a much better system to promote cooperation in the tribe.

Though the standards may be different in our modern day and age, we are still constantly assessing and judging each other, trying to figure out where we sit on the social hierarchy. Sometimes the standards are informal. Among scientists, for example, greater respect may be shown to the scientist who has been published more, won more awards, or made a more notable discovery than their peers. Among movie stars, the alpha treatment may be given to the actor with more awards or greater box office success. In most organizations, however, that hierarchy is more formal. We have titles—and even when we don’t, there is still a hierarchy based on experience or levels of responsibility. For example, we all know a vice president is more senior than an intern.

This is why few people turn down promotions. Rising through the hierarchy often comes with perks—more money, a bigger office, or a better parking space. We show deference for the most senior people in organizations. Often, we are willing to do basic tasks for them simply because of their high status. If you’re senior and you leave your coat in the other room, for example, someone will probably volunteer to get it for you. If you’re junior and you leave your coat in the other room . . . you get your own coat. As Mel Brooks aptly pointed out in his film History of the World, Part I, “It’s good to be the king.”

However, these perks do not come for free. A deep-seated social contract is hardwired into all human beings. There is an expectation that when danger threatens, the alpha—the person who is often smarter, stronger, or more confident—will rush toward the danger to protect the tribe. It is this anthropological requirement that defines the essence of servant leadership. Leadership, it turns out, is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge. The closest thing I can equate to servant leadership is the responsibility of a parent. We all know Mom and Dad are in charge. We

all know they have all the authority. They set rules and enforce them. However, parents also have a responsibility to their children. Any decent parent would gladly sacrifice for them. Money, time, the kind of car they buy, the kind of vacation they take—the list goes on—are all elements of sacrifice: putting one’s interests aside to benefit the life of another human being.

Just as we are morally offended by a parent who would put themselves before their child—leaving the child in a car while the parent goes gambling, for example—so, too, are we morally offended when people in leadership positions are willing to sacrifice the lives of their people to advance their personal interests. Trust cannot exist in a culture in which people fear—or know—that their leaders would sooner announce a round of layoffs to protect the numbers than sacrifice the numbers to protect the people. This is the reason why so many people are viscerally offended by some banking CEOs. It is not their huge bonuses or salaries that upset us—we are okay with our alphas getting paid more than we do. It’s the knowledge that they would sacrifice their people to protect their salaries and bonuses that is so inconsistent with the anthropological requirements of leadership. Few if any of us would be offended if we heard Nelson Mandela was given a $50 million bonus. Few if any of us would be offended to learn that Mother Teresa was given a $100 million bonus. It’s not the money that matters. It’s the knowledge that our leader would, and does, sacrifice to protect us.

Our species started farming around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Only then could we sustain populations that were larger than about 150. Living and working at this scale, a scale for which we were not designed, produced a whole new set of leadership challenges that we continue to face today. These challenges make servant leadership not just more important but also the only viable, long-term solution.

All good leaders practice servant leadership. It is a teachable, learnable, and practicable skill. And the more the servant leader practices that skill—the more they create an environment in which people can feel vulnerable at work—the more trust, loyalty, and cooperation thrive. Where weak leaders demand trust be given to them, servant leaders inspire it.

Creating a space in which people can feel vulnerable means a person can walk into their boss’s office to admit a mistake without fear of losing their job. It means someone can raise their hand and ask for help, admit they have been given a responsibility they don’t feel prepared or knowledgeable enough to complete, or admit they are scared without any fear of humiliation or retribution. We trust that the servant leader will come running to our aid. This is what

happens inside great organizations. In contrast, in a work environment that lacks good servant leaders, people will go out of their way to follow the rules at all costs, cover up mistakes, and deny accountability. Remember United Airlines?

The daily practice of servant leadership is less grand than people tend to think. It is based not on a series of transactions, but on the promise of being there when someone needs you most. Individuals don’t fall in love because one is rich and the other stands to benefit. The same is true in an organization. A leader who offers money or the potential for future riches is not earning loyalty. They are setting up a transactional relationship that is likely to promote self-interest. Individuals don’t fall in love simply because someone remembered their birthday or bought them flowers on Valentine’s Day. The same is true in an organization. A few scattered, well-intentioned actions by a leader can’t hurt, but they won’t breed loyalty. They won’t be enough to earn trust. Just like any relationship in which trust is the basis, it is the accumulation of a lot of little things that makes all the difference.

Servant leaders practice putting their interests aside in order to enhance the lives of those around them. For example, if you’re standing in an elevator, running slightly late for a meeting, and just as the doors start closing you see someone running toward the elevator, what do you do? The act of holding the doors for someone even if you’re running late is an act of servant leadership. If you pour yourself the last cup of coffee at work and instead of putting the empty pot back you spend a few minutes making another pot of coffee, that is an act of servant leadership. If one of your people has missed their numbers three quarters in a row and instead of walking into their office and saying, “You have to make your fourth quarter numbers otherwise I don’t know what’s going to happen,” you walk into their office and say, “Are you okay? You missed your numbers again. I’m worried about you,” that level of empathy—concern for the person before the numbers—is an act of servant leadership.

As I said before, servant leadership is not a rank or an event. It is a practice, and the servant leader will remain a student for their entire life. They will always want to learn more about the practice, talk about it, read about it, and hear what others have to say about it. They will constantly be on the hunt for new tactics, new perspectives, new ways to hone their skills. Every parent, partner, spouse, and servant leader knows that the act of caring for another is very hard work, the results of which are impossible to predict according to a timeline. The impact of servant leadership isn’t conveniently parsed into quarters. It is a human experience.

Like going to the gym or eating healthily, servant leadership is a lifestyle. We

can get into shape if we go to the gym regularly and improve our diets. And we can turn an unhealthy culture into a thriving one, filled with trust and cooperation. But we have to commit to the lifestyle. Once we achieve our goals, to stay fit we have to keep working out and eating smart. And to maintain a servant leadership culture we must keep caring, serving, trusting, and earning trust.

Though someone may choose servant leadership for the results, the reason we continue to practice the discipline is for the joy of the journey.

Simon Sinek (www.startwithwhy.com) is an unshakable optimist and the author of three bestselling books: Start with Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together Is Better, and his most recent, Find Your Why. A trained ethnographer, Simon has a bold goal to help build a world in which the vast majority of people go home every day feeling fulfilled by their work. His first TED Talk in 2009 is the third most watched talk of all time on TED.com.

Part Two Elements of Servant Leadership

Different Points of View about Servant Leadership

• In Marshall Goldsmith’s essay, “One Question Every Servant Leader Should Ask,” he emphasizes that great leaders are willing servants of people, organizations, and causes. To help these leaders stay focused on making a positive difference, he has developed a simple formulation to help them avoid the pervasive triggers that would pull them off course.

• Brené Brown, in “In the Service of Others: When Leaders Dare to Rehumanize Work,” introduces the concept that servant leadership cannot exist in a culture of shame—of blaming, gossiping, bullying, humiliation— primarily because shame breeds fear and the foundation of servant leadership is courage.

• Tom Mullins, in “Servant Leaders Celebrate Others,” shows why accentuating the positive and celebrating success is a key factor in servant leadership.

• James Ferrell, in “The Servant Leader’s Focus,” stresses that for servant leaders service should not be the true focus. Every act of service is a behavioral extension of the real root of servant leadership: a caring, outward mindset.

• In Chris Hodges’s essay, “What You See Determines How You Serve,” he illustrates how servant leaders serve people differently because they see people differently. People are here not to be judged, but to be loved.

• Craig Groeschel, in “Compassion: The Heart of Servant Leadership,” emphasizes that compassion is not a feeling; it is an action. And a simple act of compassion from one human being to another can change a life.

• Patrick Lencioni tells us “Why Ideal Team Players Make Great Servant Leaders”—it’s because the three primary values of an ideal team player are three of the most essential qualities of an effective servant leader.

• Laurie Beth Jones, in “The Servant Leader’s Identity,” points out the importance of understanding yourself and others so that you can get clear about your leadership style and how to relate to the people around you.

• Henry Cloud, in “The Four Corners of the Leader’s Universe,” helps you answer the question “Where are my people today—inside their hearts, minds, and souls?” so that you can better serve them and help them succeed.

Chapter 10 One Question Every Servant Leader Should Ask


When Marshall Goldsmith was in his early twenties and finishing his doctoral degree at UCLA, he was asked to teach a course at California American University, where I was teaching with founder Paul Hersey. Marshall and I immediately became soul mates and I have admired his teaching and writing skills ever since. I think you’ll see why I’m a big fan of his after reading his essay. —KB

A DECISION MAKER, a game changer, a force to reckon with, a wielder of power: this is a leader in the popular imagination. As an executive coach who has been helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior for more than thirty-five years, I have worked with many influential people who fit this description. The best of them understand that, for a servant leader, power is beside the point.

For example, one of the most inspiring servant leaders I have ever met is Frances Hesselbein, president and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute and former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Her motto is To serve is to live. This kind of humility may seem at odds with the image of the heroic, powerful leader. But as my friend Frances has pointed out, great leaders are willing servants of people, organizations, and causes. Instead of worrying about how powerful they are or what position they hold, these leaders focus on what others need. Without the distractions of ego, they can see the clearest path to positive outcomes. (For more on Frances Hesselbein, see the essay by Jim Dittmar in Part Four of this book.)

Maintaining this clarity is a challenge, as any tested leader knows. In competitive situations or organizations, staying committed to a servant

leadership mentality is a monumental challenge that requires daily, if not hourly, attention. To keep my coaching clients on track, I developed a simple formulation—one that helps them focus on making a positive difference instead of demonstrating their own superiority. It can help you, too. Follow it and you will dramatically shrink your daily volume of stress, unpleasant debate, and wasted time, while getting closer to the results you want.

The next time you run into a conflict, ask yourself this question:




It pops into my head so often each day that I’ve turned the first five words into an acronym: AIWATT (it rhymes with “say what”). Like the physician’s principle “First, do no harm,” it doesn’t require you to do anything other than merely avoid doing something foolish.

Perhaps you’re thinking I don’t need to repeat a simple question to remember to make a positive difference. But I believe all of us need exactly this kind of help. In Triggers: Becoming the Person You Want to Be,1 I make the case that relying on structure—even something as simple as the AIWATT question—is key to changing our leadership behavior. In every waking hour we are bombarded by triggers—people, events, and circumstances that have the potential to change us. We often fail to appreciate just how much these triggers affect us, and how difficult it is to fend them off without some kind of support.

AIWATT is just one of the tactics I suggest. Of course, it isn’t a universal panacea for all our interpersonal problems, but it has a specific utility. It’s a reminder that our environment tempts us many times a day to engage in pointless arguments and prove ourselves the winner. We can do something about this unfortunate tendency—by doing nothing. In our Western, action-focused culture, that sounds like laziness or failure. But it can be a surprisingly powerful position to take. I’ll explain using two complementary insights: a Buddhist parable and an observation from Peter Drucker, one of my heroes and the father of modern management theory.

The Parable of the Empty Boat A young farmer laboriously paddled his boat up the river to deliver his produce

to the village. It was a hot day, and he wanted to make his delivery and get home before dark. As he looked ahead, he spied another vessel, heading rapidly downstream toward his boat. He rowed furiously to get out of the way, but it didn’t seem to help.

He shouted, “Change direction! You are going to hit me!” to no avail—the vessel hit his boat with a violent thud. He cried out, “You idiot! How could you manage to hit my boat in the middle of this wide river?”

As he glared into the boat, seeking out the individual responsible for the accident, he realized no one was there. He had been screaming at an empty boat that had broken free of its moorings and was floating downstream with the current.

We behave one way when we believe there is another person at the helm. We can blame that stupid, uncaring person for our misfortune. This blaming permits us to get angry, act out, assign blame, and play the victim. We behave more calmly when we learn that it’s an empty boat. With no available scapegoat, we can’t get upset. We make peace with the fact that our misfortune was the result of fate or bad luck. We may even laugh at the absurdity of a random unmanned boat finding a way to collide with us in a vast body of water.

The moral: There’s never anyone in the other boat. We are always screaming at an empty vessel. An empty boat isn’t targeting us. And neither are all the people creating the sour notes in the soundtrack of our day.

I like to make this point in leadership classes with a simple exercise. I’ll ask a random audience member to think of one person who makes them feel bad, angry, or crazy. “Can you envision that person?” I ask.

A nod, a disgusted face, and then, “Yes.” “How much sleep is that person losing over you tonight?” I ask. “None.” “Who is being punished here? Who is doing the punishing?” I ask. The answer inevitably is, “Me and me.” I end the exercise with a simple reminder that getting mad at people for being

who they are makes as much sense as getting mad at a chair for being a chair. The chair cannot help but be a chair, and people cannot help but be themselves. If there’s a person who drives you crazy, you don’t have to like, agree with, or respect them; just accept them for being who they are.

False Positives The empty boat parable is a useful metaphor for understanding how others affect

us. To grasp how we affect others, I turn to Drucker, who has been an enormous influence on my life and work. “Our mission in life should be to make a positive difference,” he said, “not to prove how smart or right we are.” It sounds so obvious—given the choice, who wouldn’t opt to make a positive difference?

But Drucker is highlighting two notions that we have trouble holding in our heads simultaneously. When we have the opportunity to demonstrate our brainpower, we’re rarely thinking about a positive result for the other people in the room. We’re actually issuing what I like to call false positives—making statements to upgrade ourselves, often at the expense of others. They appear in many forms:

• Pedantry: A subordinate makes a grammatical error in a presentation—using who instead of whom—and you correct him. Smart, perhaps, if the objective is punctilious grammar—but hardly a contribution that improves the room’s vibe.

• Saying “I told you so”: You tell your wife the two of you need to leave the house at least sixty minutes in advance to make an eight o’clock Broadway show. She delays, and you arrive late. You proceed to ruin her night in proportion to how much she ruined yours.

• Moral superiority: You tell a friend or loved one that she shouldn’t smoke, that he doesn’t need another beer, or that you would have taken a faster route home. How often do these efforts elicit a genuine thank you, or anything but an eye roll?

• Complaining: The average American worker spends fifteen hours a month complaining about upper management, making it one of the more popular workplace activities. When you complain, you’re disagreeing with what someone else decided, planned, or did. By definition, you’re being disagreeable and adding the implication that you would have done better. It’s rarely a positive contribution, especially if you do it behind people’s backs rather than to their faces.

From wake-up to bedtime, when we’re in contact with another human being, we face the option of being helpful, hurtful, or neutral. If we’re not paying attention, it’s easy to choose hurtful—especially if in the process we prove we’re smarter, better, or more right than the other guy. Often we’re not aware that we’re being counterproductive. Nor is it our intention to be cruel, as if we have chosen to speak our minds and damn the consequences. Consequences don’t enter the picture. We’re only thinking about elevating ourselves. We’re trying to prove how smart we are to an empty boat!

This is where AIWATT is useful, if only to create a split-second delay in our potentially prideful, cynical, judgmental, argumentative, and selfish responses to our environment. The delay gives us time to consider a more positive response. AIWATT helps us after a trigger creates an impulse and before we exhibit behavior we may later regret. The nineteen-word text deserves close analysis. Each part is something aspiring servant leaders should know:

• Am I willing implies that we are exercising volition—taking responsibility— rather than surfing along the waves of inertia that otherwise rule our day. We are asking “Do I really want to do this?”

• At this time reminds us that we’re operating in the present. Circumstances will differ later on, demanding a different response. The only issue is what we’re facing now.

• To make the investment required reminds us that responding to others is work —an expenditure of time, energy, and opportunity. And like any investment, our resources are finite. We are asking “Is this really the best use of my time?”

• To make a positive difference places the emphasis on the kinder, gentler side of our nature. It’s a reminder that we can help create either a better us or a better world. If we’re not accomplishing one or the other, why are we getting involved?

• On this topic focuses us on the matter at hand. We can’t solve every problem. The time we spend on topics where we can’t make a positive difference is stolen from topics where we can.

Like closing our office door so people hesitate before they knock, asking ourselves “Am I willing, at this time, to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?” gives us a thin barrier of breathing room— time enough to inhale, exhale, and reflect on whether the outcome we seek is a true positive that is intended for the benefit of others, or a false positive that is intended to polish our own image. For servant leaders who want to make serving others their primary mission, that’s a vital distinction.

Marshall Goldsmith (www.marshallgoldsmith.com) has been recognized by Thinkers50, Global Gurus, Fast Company, and Inc. as the world’s leading executive coach. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Triggers, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Mojo, and several other books. He received his PhD from UCLA Anderson School of Management. His client list is a who’s who of the world’s CEOs.

Note 1. Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter, Triggers: Becoming the Person You

Want to Be (New York: Crown, 2015).

Chapter 11 In the Service of Others

When Leaders Dare to Rehumanize Work


I first got acquainted with Brené Brown when people told me about her TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability.” As I watched it, I immediately made the connection between the importance of vulnerability and effective servant leadership. Brené and I agree that having a servant heart is definitely an inside-out job. In this essay she details how, when heart-led leadership prevails in an organization, shame will not be a factor. —KB

GIVEN WHAT I’VE learned from research and what I’ve observed over the past decade as I’ve worked with leaders from companies of all sizes and types, I believe we have to completely reexamine the idea of engagement. To reignite creativity, innovation, and learning, leaders must dare to rehumanize education and work. This means understanding how scarcity is affecting the way we lead and work, learning how to engage with vulnerability, and recognizing and combating shame.

Make no mistake: honest conversations about vulnerability and shame are disruptive. The reason we’re not having these conversations in our organizations is that they shine light in dark corners. Once there is language, awareness, and understanding, turning back is almost impossible and carries with it severe consequences. We all want to dare greatly. If you give us a glimpse into that possibility, we’ll hold on to it as our vision. It can’t be taken away.

Sir Ken Robinson speaks to the power of making this shift in his appeal to leaders to replace the outdated idea that human organizations should work like machines with a metaphor that captures the realities of humanity. In his book Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative,1 Robinson writes: “However seductive the machine metaphor may be for industrial production, human organizations are not actually mechanisms and people are not components in them. People have values and feelings, perceptions, opinions, motivations, and biographies, whereas cogs and sprockets do not. An organization is not the physical facilities within which it operates; it is the networks of people in it.”

Recognizing and Combating Shame Servant leadership and shame culture cannot coexist for a simple reason: the foundation of servant leadership is courage and shame breeds fear. Shame crushes our tolerance for vulnerability, thereby killing engagement, innovation, creativity, productivity, and trust. And worst of all, if we don’t know what we’re looking for, shame can ravage our organizations before we see one outward sign of a problem. Shame works like termites in a house. It’s hidden in the dark behind the walls and constantly eating away at our infrastructure, until one day the stairs suddenly crumble. Only then do we realize that it’s only a matter of time before the walls come tumbling down.

In the same way that a casual walk around our house won’t reveal a termite problem, a stroll through an office or a school won’t necessarily reveal a shame problem. Or at least we hope it’s not that obvious. If it is—if we see a manager berating an employee or a teacher shaming a student—the problem is already acute and more than likely has been happening for a long time. In most cases, though, we have to know what we’re looking for when we assess an organization for signs that shame may be an issue.

Signs That Shame Has Permeated a Culture Blaming, gossiping, favoritism, name-calling, and harassment are all behavior cues that shame has permeated a culture. A more obvious sign is when shame becomes an outright management tool. Is there evidence of people in leadership roles bullying others, criticizing subordinates in front of colleagues, delivering public reprimands, or setting up reward systems that intentionally belittle, shame, or humiliate people?

I’ve never been to a shame-free organization. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I doubt it. In fact, once I’ve explained how shame works, I normally have

several leaders approach me and explain that they use shame on a daily basis. Most ask how to change that practice—but a few proudly say, “It works.” The best case scenario is that it’s a limited or contained problem rather than a cultural norm. This is also true in schools. Approximately 85 percent of the men and women we interviewed for our shame research could recall a school incident from their childhood that was so shaming it changed how they thought of themselves as learners. What makes this even more haunting is that approximately half of those recollections were what I refer to as creativity scars. The research participants could point to a specific incident where they were told or shown that they weren’t good writers, artists, musicians, dancers, or something creative. This helps explain why the gremlins are so powerful when it comes to creativity and innovation at work. We’re afraid to reopen wounds by sharing new ideas and taking creative risks.

When we see shame being used as a management tool in the workplace (again, that means bullying, criticism in front of colleagues, public reprimands, or reward systems that intentionally belittle people), we need to take direct action because it means that we’ve got an infestation on our hands. And we need to remember that this doesn’t just happen overnight. Equally important to keep in mind is that shame rolls downhill. If employees are constantly having to navigate shame, you can bet they’re passing it on to their customers, colleagues, and even families.

So, if it’s happening and it can be isolated to a specific unit, work team, or person, it has to be addressed immediately and without shame. We learn shame in our families of origin, and many people grow up believing that it’s an effective and efficient way to manage people, run a classroom, and parent. For that reason, shaming someone who’s using shame is not helpful. But doing nothing is equally dangerous, not only for the people who are targets of the shaming but also for the entire organization. Shame begets shame.

Several years ago a man came up to me after an event and said, “Interview me! Please! I’m a financial adviser and you wouldn’t believe what happens in my office.” When I met Don for the interview, he told me that in his organization you choose your office each quarter based on your quarterly results: the person with the best results chooses first and sends the person in the desired office packing.

He shook his head, and his voice cracked a bit when he said, “Given that I’ve had the best numbers for the past six quarters, you’d think I’d like that. But I don’t. I absolutely hate it. It’s a miserable environment.” He then told me how after the previous quarterly results were in, his boss walked into his office, closed the door, and told him that he had to move offices.

closed the door, and told him that he had to move offices. “At first I thought my numbers had dropped. Then he told me that he didn’t

care if I had the best numbers or if I liked my office; the point was to terrorize the other guys. He said, ‘Busting their balls in public builds character. It’s motivating.’”

Before the end of our interview, he told me he was job hunting. “I’m good at my job and even enjoy it, but I didn’t sign up to terrorize people. I never knew why it felt so lousy, but after hearing you talk, now I do. It’s shame. It’s worse than high school. I’ll find a better place to work, and you can be darn sure I’m taking my clients with me.”

In I Thought It Was Just Me,2 I tell the following story about Sylvia, an event planner in her thirties who jumped right into our interview by saying, “I wish you could have interviewed me six months ago. I was a different person. I was so stuck in shame.” When I asked her what she meant, she explained she had heard about my research from a friend and volunteered to be interviewed because she felt her life had been changed by shame. She had recently had an important breakthrough when she found herself on the “losers list” at work.

Apparently, after two years of what her employer called “outstanding winner’s work,” she had made her first big mistake. The mistake cost her agency a major client. Her boss’s response was to put her on the losers list. She said, “In one minute I went from being on the winners board to being at the top of the losers list.” I guess I must have winced when Sylvia referred to the losers list because, without my remarking at all, she said, “I know, it’s terrible. My boss has these two big dry erase boards outside of his office. One is the winners list, and one is for the losers.” She said for weeks she could barely function. She lost her confidence and started missing work. Shame, anxiety, and fear took over. After a difficult three-week period, she quit her job and went to work for another agency.

Shame can only rise so far in any system before people disengage to protect themselves. When we’re disengaged we don’t show up, we don’t contribute, and we stop caring. On the far end of the spectrum, disengagement allows people to rationalize all kinds of unethical behavior including lying, stealing, and cheating. In the cases of Don and Sylvia, they didn’t just disengage; they quit—and took their talent to competitors.

The Blame Game Here’s the best way to think about the relationship between shame and blame: if blame is driving, shame is riding shotgun. In organizations, schools, and

families, blaming and finger-pointing are often symptoms of shame. Shame researchers June Tangney and Ronda Dearing explain that in shame-bound relationships, people “measure carefully, weigh, and assign blame.” They write, “In the face of any negative outcome, large or small, someone or something must be found responsible and held accountable. There’s no notion of water under the bridge.” They go on to say, “After all, if someone must be to blame and it’s not me, it must be you! From blame comes shame. And then hurt, denial, anger, and retaliation.”3

Blame is simply the discharging of pain and discomfort. We blame when we’re uncomfortable and experience pain—when we’re vulnerable, angry, hurt, in shame, grieving. There’s nothing productive about blame, and it often involves shaming someone or just being mean. If blame is a pattern in your culture, then shame needs to be addressed as an issue.

Cover-Up Culture Related to blame is the issue of cover-ups. Just like blame is a sign of shame- based organizations, cover-up cultures depend on shame to keep folks quiet. When the culture of an organization mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of a system and those in power than it is to protect the basic human dignity of individuals or communities, you can be certain that shame is systemic, money drives ethics, and accountability is dead. This is true in all systems, from corporations, nonprofits, universities, and governments, to churches, schools, families, and sports programs. If you think back on any major incidents fueled by cover-ups, you’ll see this pattern.

In an organizational culture of servant leadership where respect and the dignity of individuals are held as the highest values, shame and blame don’t work as management styles. There is no leading by fear. Empathy is a valued asset, accountability is an expectation rather than an exception, and the primal human need for belonging is not used as leverage and social control. We can’t control the behavior of individuals; however, we can cultivate organizational cultures where bad behaviors are not tolerated and people are held accountable for protecting what matters most: human beings.

The four best strategies for building shame-resilient organizations are:

1. Encourage servant leaders to courageously facilitate honest conversations about shame and cultivate shame-resilient cultures.

2. Make a conscientious effort to see where shame might be functioning in the organization and how it might even be creeping into the way we engage

with our coworkers and students. 3. A critical shame resilience strategy is normalizing. Leaders and managers

can cultivate engagement by helping people know what to expect. What are common struggles? How have other people dealt with them? What have your experiences been?

4. Train all employees on the profound dangers of shame culture and teach them how to give and receive feedback in a way that fosters growth and engagement.

We won’t solve the complex issues we’re facing today without creativity, innovation, and engaged learning. As servant leaders, we can’t afford to let our discomfort with the topic of shame get in the way of recognizing and combating it in our schools and workplaces.

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation-Brené Brown Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of three #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong. Her latest book is Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.

Notes 1. Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative (London: John

Wiley and Sons, 2001). 2. Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me (but It Isn’t) (New York: Gotham,

2007). 3. June Price Tangney and Ronda L. Dearing, Shame and Guilt (New York:

Guildford, 2002).

Chapter 12 Servant Leaders Celebrate Others


I met Tom Mullins when we were speakers at a servant leadership conference. He is such a positive, energetic person that I was drawn to him right away. When I heard his feelings about celebration, I was even more of a fan. Why? Because of all the things that I’ve ever taught over the years, the one concept I would never give up is my feeling that the key to developing people and creating great organizations is to catch people doing things right. In this essay, Tom shows why accenting the positive and celebrating success is a key element of servant leadership. —KB

ONE OF THE most important things I’ve learned from being both a football coach and a pastor is that you cannot celebrate your team’s victories often enough. People thrive when they are recognized and affirmed for their contributions to your organization’s success. As a matter of fact, your team members’ longevity and continued engagement in the execution of your vision is directly influenced by your ability to celebrate them in meaningful ways.

Accordingly, servant leaders understand the impact celebration has on the health of their organization. They make celebration a high priority in their leadership and are always looking for new ways to acknowledge their team’s success. They understand that when the team experiences a win, they must pause to celebrate that win before they can expect the team to move on to the next goal.

For my book The Leadership Game,1 I had the privilege of interviewing Coach Gene Stallings, the former national championship coach at the University of Alabama. He told me a story about overhearing one of his assistant coaches

ripping into the team after they had won a game. Coach Stallings ended up letting the assistant coach go because his philosophy and behavior didn’t represent the Alabama organization’s emphasis on celebration. Sadly, the assistant coach was more interested in highlighting what could have gone better rather than celebrating what went well.

That’s a valuable lesson for all of us in leadership. When you celebrate your team’s wins, big or small, you are affirming the effort made to reach team goals. Winning calls for celebration!

I have found there are five benefits of celebration: it demonstrates that you value your team, it reinforces core organizational values, it builds team morale, it increases retention and productivity, and it is a great recruiting tool. Let’s investigate each of these benefits.

Celebration Demonstrates You Value Your Team Celebrating your people demonstrates that you value them and you acknowledge their part in making the victory possible. Simply put, your people need to feel valued and affirmed by their leader.

In a world where so many people focus on the negative and beat others down for their imperfections, servant leaders need to look for any way possible to show care and gratitude. It’s been said that for every critical comment we receive, it takes nine affirming comments to balance the negative effect of that one criticism. A servant leader is invested in nurturing the positive qualities and contributions of their team members by recognizing and celebrating the diversity of their particular strengths.

When the affirmation of others becomes a habit in your leadership style, it quickly becomes part of the culture among all of your team members. When they see your example of looking for opportunities to celebrate others, they will soon find themselves doing the same for their teammates. This is a win-win for everyone!

Celebration Reinforces Core Organizational Values Celebration also has the benefit of reinforcing your organization’s core values, which in turn helps shape its culture and environment. The things you celebrate as a leader send a clear message to your team about what you deem to be important qualities of a successful team player. For example, when you acknowledge the hard work and productivity of an individual team member, your team will know that hard work and productivity are important to you.

Servant leaders are always mindful that they must live out these core values first. You cannot expect your team to share your stated values if your actions do not reflect these values. If you say you value integrity, you must show your team members, through your daily choices, that you have this value. Once you’ve adopted the principle of integrity in your own life, look for this quality in your team members and celebrate it publicly when you see it.

At Christ Fellowship, the church I cofounded with my wife, Donna, we use our weekly staff meeting to affirm the outstanding job our team members do in ministering to others through the lens of our core values. We always look for ways to praise one another and then tie that praise directly back to what we value. This reminds our team of the importance of modeling our core values for our congregation so they, too, can live a life fully immersed in the key principles and precepts of God’s Word.

My friend Jerry Anderson instituted a program called Virtual High Five where his employees try to catch each other living out the values of their organization. They post on a virtual bulletin board the actions they witness, and these praisings are celebrated at department as well as all-company meetings. Jerry’s program clearly articulates the qualities of a successful team player and the virtues his company stands on. When he acknowledges these qualities and virtues through celebration, it naturally reinforces them with his people.

Celebration Builds Team Morale Celebration increases team members’ morale when they get to enjoy victories together. Celebration is a high motivator because everyone enjoys the thrill of victory and wants to experience it as often as possible!

I have found that one of the most motivating things I can do to serve and celebrate my team members is to take time to learn how each person is uniquely motivated. It is the leader’s responsibility to learn what each team member values and how that person prefers to celebrate.

Some people respond best to public acknowledgment, some to a handwritten note of gratitude. Others value face time with me, so I make sure to pop in on them, praise their efforts, and point out how their particular assistance made the difference in a recent win. Still others respond best to gifts like a day off or a fun corporate social event like a special lunch together. Many are motivated by pay increases—so when the budget permits, that’s a good way to send a message that their hard work has not gone unnoticed and that they are a valuable asset to our team.

A servant leader also tries to regularly celebrate the contributions of the

unsung heroes on the team. It takes an entire team—each person functioning within their own skill set and giving their best at every level—to create a win. Accordingly, it’s important that you acknowledge everyone’s position and participation, not just the people on the front lines.

As you can imagine, one department that rarely gets public accolades in the church is the accounting department. Because of this, Donna and I try to be intentional about celebrating that team’s hard work and behind-the-scenes ministry. We once took everyone in the department to lunch at a nice restaurant at a local mall, where we talked with them and listened to them share about their lives. Then we gave each person $100 and told them they had to spend every penny on themselves, right then and there. When they returned, it was fun to watch their faces light up as they shared how they spent the money. I believe it increased morale in their department for months to come. In fact, many of our accounting staff still talk about how special that was for them. It was a small gesture but it spoke highly of our love for them and gratitude for their contribution.

Find out what motivates your people and clearly demonstrates your gratitude, and then do it regularly!

Celebration Increases Retention and Productivity When you are deliberate about celebrating all of your team members, you will find that retention and productivity naturally increase. The U.S. Department of Labor recently reported that 46 percent of employees who leave their jobs do it because they feel unappreciated. I believe one of the ways this statistic can be easily reversed is by leaders encouraging their people by celebrating their roles on the team.

In addition, people are more productive in positive surroundings. Celebration creates an environment where people want to work to meet the organization’s goals. Simply stated, what gets celebrated gets done! The more you affirm your team, the more productive they are. A servant leader who is intentional about celebrating will have a happy, hardworking team.

Celebration Is a Great Recruiting Tool Celebration also serves as a great recruiting tool for your organization. I’ve found that when a recruit witnesses the ways we celebrate wins together as a team, they are eager to be a part of what’s happening here. Celebration is attractive partly due to its rarity in many organizations. In contrast, servant

leaders always prioritize celebration. Being intentional about seeking out the contributions of your team members

and then elevating them publicly requires humility on the part of the leader. I firmly believe it is the duty of a servant leader to create wins for their people and then to celebrate those wins together. You have to forgo your own praise and set your people up for success. And if your focus as a servant leader is to position your people for victory, it will mean more to you in the long run if you celebrate their participation and effort.

Do whatever it takes to provide clear vision, direction, training, and oversight so that your people can accomplish attainable goals—and when they do, be the first person in line to celebrate their win. Your staff will be all the more engaged when they see that you care enough to invest in them and acknowledge that their contributions have contributed to the organization’s success.

Tom Mullins is founding pastor of Christ Fellowship Church, a multisite church of more than forty thousand people meeting on nine campuses in South Florida and online. Previously, he was a successful football coach at both the high school and collegiate levels. He and Donna, his wife of more than fifty years, are cofounders of Place of Hope and Place of Hope International, which serve the needs of abused and neglected children. Tom has written four books including Passing the Leadership Baton and The Leadership Game.

Note 1. Tom Mullins, The Leadership Game (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005).

Chapter 13 The Servant Leader’s Focus


I’ve never met James Ferrell, but I’ve admired Arbinger Institute from a distance—and their books up close. I think when you read James’s essay, you’ll realize why I was excited to have him participate in this book—and why I’m thinking of giving a copy of the book to my garbage man! — KB

I DISLIKE THE word “service.” There, I said it. And I believe it needs to be said in a book about servant

leadership. As odd as it might sound, I believe that a focus on service is incompatible with servant leadership. True servant leaders don’t focus on service; they focus on something else entirely. In this chapter, I will explore the kind of nonservice focus that forms the foundation of servant leadership.

Two Tones or Mindsets Years ago, I recorded a podcast for Arbinger Institute in which I drew an analogy between tonal spoken languages, such as Chinese, and life itself.

When speaking Chinese, the speaker’s intonation determines the meaning of every word and phrase. In Cantonese, for example, there are nine different tonal variations. Two of these are too subtle for Westerners, so foreigners usually learn just seven intonations. These intonations begin with three variations—low, mid, and high—in the initial pitch the speaker uses when uttering a word. There are additional variations within each pitch level: the low pitch can stay steady, rise, or fall; the mid-level pitch can stay steady or rise; and the high-level pitch can stay steady or fall. The meaning of every Chinese utterance depends on these

tones. For example, consider the following Cantonese sentence: “Go go go go go go go go go go.” Its meaning, when uttered with different tones, is “That tall man over there is taller than his older brother.” No joke. The speaker’s tone determines the meaning of everything.

Without realizing it, we too are living in the middle of a tonal language—a tonal system that determines the meaning of everything we do and say. One of the insights contained within Arbinger’s work is that we can see others either as people who matter like we matter (we call this an outward mindset), or as objects (an inward mindset).

Mindset and Impact These different mindsets operate the way the different tones operate in Chinese —they change the meaning of everything we say. For example, I may tell a colleague, “I appreciate the effort you put into your presentation.” If I am seeing that colleague as a person when I say this, she will likely interpret my comment as a kind compliment regarding her effort. However, she may experience the comment differently—and attach entirely different meaning to it—if she senses I have an inward mindset and am seeing her as an object. In that case, she may interpret the meaning as “It’s about time you put effort into something around here!” Although I utter the same words, my underlying mindset—my tone—can change the meaning of what I have said.

This brings me to what I think is troubling about the word “service.” What is true about the meaning and impact of our words is equally true of the meaning and impact of our actions—even our acts of service. We can perform almost any action with an inward or an outward mindset. When our mindsets are outward, we are serving others. When our mindsets are inward, on the other hand, we are serving ourselves. This inward orientation corrupts everything—our self- understanding, our views of others, our intentions, and even our service. This means that the foundation of servant leadership can never be a focus on mere actions—even on actions that may seem, on their face, to be for the benefit of others. True servant leaders focus on something else.

The Servant Leader’s Focus What does a servant leader focus on? I’ll answer that question by returning to the story of the podcast. In that presentation, I invited people not to speak about Arbinger with others, but rather to put more effort into simply living in the right tone, which I called speaking Arbinger. My invitation was to focus less on talking about Arbinger concepts and more on living the tonal language of seeing

people as people. After the podcast, a robust discussion broke out about it on social media

channels. People generally were complimentary of the ideas I shared, but then one gentleman completely shattered my whole argument.

The man said that after listening to the podcast, he resolved to apply what he had learned in his interactions with his wife. Instead of speaking about Arbinger concepts with her, he resolved to focus on simply speaking Arbinger with her— that is, on simply seeing her as a person. However, he said that this new approach wasn’t yielding any better results than before. Then he shared an epiphany—an insight that completely changed the nature of his interactions and relationship with his wife. He said, “I realized that instead of focusing on speaking Arbinger, I needed to focus instead on speaking Becky”

If you think about those in your life whom you would call servant leaders, you will see the truth in this gentleman’s insight. What distinguishes true servant leaders and makes them so precious to us is not that they do things for us— although they do. No, we are grateful to them because we know that they see and value us. We are, as it were, Becky, and the servant leaders in our lives have cared enough about us to learn to speak our language.

The Example of My Garbage Man Let me share an example of one such person in my life: the man who collects the trash in our neighborhood every week—the inspiring servant leader who is my garbage man.

Our trash is collected on Friday mornings. I am the one in our home primarily responsible for making sure that our trash bins get out to the street in time. However, one Friday morning, as I heard the garbage truck pull into our cul-de- sac, I realized that I had forgotten to take the bins out. Panicked, I hurriedly threw on some clothes and hustled down the stairs. However, before I reached the front door, I heard the truck pull away. A week with no room in our garbage bins! I grimaced, feeling frustrated. I glanced out the front window as the truck rolled down our street. There in front of our house were our two bins—empty! My frustration washed away in an instant. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for our amazing neighbors.

A few weeks later, I was talking with two of those neighbors—David, whose home is directly across from ours in the cul-de-sac, and Randy, who lives around the corner. David was telling a story.

“About a month ago on a Friday morning, I noticed the garbage truck parked in front of my house. The driver was walking around and picking up trash that

was all over the street. I remembered that I had overpacked my bins the night before and I guess maybe there was a wind storm, or some kind of animal got in the bin and made a mess. Either way, here was the truck driver picking up a mess that I had caused. When he was finished, he climbed back into his truck, emptied the bins, and drove away,” David said.

“As I watched the garbage truck go, I realized I had never even acknowledged the man—not even just then—and I felt ashamed. I decided that the next week I’d go out and thank him and give him a gift.

“So the next Friday, the truck got here earlier than I had expected. I ran to put on some shoes and rushed out the front door but I was too late—the truck was already rounding the corner. I grabbed my coat and ran out into the snow to catch the truck. Rounding the corner, I saw the truck parked in front of Randy’s house. Then I saw the driver wheeling Randy’s two garbage bins down from the side of his house!”

“Wait!” Randy interjected. “The garbage man did that? I remember that morning. I thought the neighbors had helped us out.”

Of course, listening to the story, I had the same reaction. The driver must have helped me with my bins as well. Our neighbors are great, but it was the garbage man who had helped me.

Now, you might think that David, Randy, and I, and the others in our neighborhood had it made at this point. After all, we wouldn’t even have to take our trash out to the street anymore; the garbage man would do it for us! But that isn’t at all how we responded. On the contrary—suddenly I felt very motivated to make our driver’s life as easy as possible. I never wanted to forget to take my bins to the street again—not just because I didn’t want to have to go another week without room for our trash, but also because I didn’t want to make things harder for our driver. Until that moment, for example, I had never cared a lick about making sure to leave ample room—five feet or so—between bins, which I had heard we were to do. But from the moment David shared his story, I began pacing off space between my bins every Thursday evening so that our driver wouldn’t have any trouble emptying them.

In a way, our garbage man trained an entire neighborhood to make his life easier. How did he do this? By making our lives easier—which is the essence of what servant leaders do. And they don’t tire of doing it, as they would if they just focused on all the tasks they must perform for others. What a drag it is to do things for those we view as mere objects! And yet how invigorating it is to do the same things for those we see and value as people.

Counterfeit Service vs. the Real Thing At times, we might be tempted to congratulate ourselves for all the good we do for others—for all the service we render. Perhaps, like me, you have too often been this counterfeit kind of servant leader—the person who wants to be noticed, seen, appreciated, and thanked. This is why it is almost an overpowering experience to be in the presence of someone who is devoid of such self-concern, and whose efforts truly are for the good of others. What a blessing it is to know them, and to be known by them.

My mother was this kind of person. She passed away from brain cancer fourteen years ago. A few years before she passed, when life was good and there was yet no hint of the trial she would face, she sat down at the piano in our home. Earlier she had spoken with one of our young children, Jacob, about his favorite children’s songs. He named twenty-four of them. My mother sat down at the piano to record herself playing and singing all twenty-four of her grandson’s favorite numbers. She recorded those songs on side A of the cassette tape she was using. When she had finished, she turned the tape over and recorded the same twenty-four songs on side B—just so that Jacob wouldn’t have to rewind the tape in order to listen to the songs again.

I still have that tape. It is a reminder of what true service looks like. And what does it look like? It looks like the face of a child who motivates you to action, or the needs of a partner that you finally try to see, or the invitation of a full trash bin still sitting at the side of a customer’s house.

For a servant leader, their service is not the point. Their actions are merely the behavioral extensions of their caring. They have learned to speak Becky and Jacob and David and Randy—and to speak those languages with an outward mindset.

It is worth asking: If we would serve, whose languages do we still need to learn?

James Ferrell is managing partner of Arbinger Institute (www.arbinger.com), and author or coauthor of multiple bestselling books, including Arbinger’s international bestsellers Leadership and Self-Deception, The Anatomy of Peace, and The Outward Mindset.

Chapter 14 What You See Determines How You Serve


I was blown away when I heard Chris Hodges speak at a leadership conference a few years ago. To me, he made the Bible come alive. I would venture to say that’s one of the reasons he has built one of the biggest megachurch communities in the United States—Church of the Highlands. One of my favorite Bible imperatives is Luke 6:37—“Do not judge, and you will not be judged.” Chris brings this message to life in his essay. —KB

YEARS AGO, I served as a youth pastor at a great church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We had one of the largest and fastest-growing youth groups in the country, with a vibrant service called TAG every Wednesday night. This wasn’t one of those services students attended because their parents wanted them to. Instead of talking, texting, or passing notes, each week hundreds of students actually engaged in worship and took notes on the teaching because they were so eager to connect with God.

One week, a young kid showed up dressed all in black, his dark hair in a severe style and a sneer on his face—clearly a “goth.” Now, working in youth ministry, I had learned quickly not to judge anyone based on appearances. But this guy clearly had an edge to him. And he immediately let us all know it.

He sat in the back row, made obnoxious comments, and laughed throughout my message. I tried to correct him nicely, but when he persisted I decided that I had had enough. I told one of our youth workers to get him in my office after the service to settle things between us.

When I walked in the office and glanced at him, I noticed he had a little smirk on his face, which only irritated me more. I sat down across from him with a

sigh of frustration and we just glared at each other in silence. Finally, I leaned in toward him and said, “Bro—what’s your deal?”

Before I could launch into my rant, he stood up, turned around, and pulled up his shirt. Angry red scars—some fresher than others—ran across his pale back, where someone (his father, I would later find out) had been beating him. “This is my deal,” he said in a quiet voice. I was undone. In one second my anger dissolved into compassion and we immediately began the process of working with him and his family.

I learned a lot that day. How you see people determines how you serve people. And most of us tend toward the extremes: we see people as either a problem to be avoided or a person to be loved.

This is the lesson Jesus taught in the famous parable of the Good Samaritan:

Approaching Jesus was a man who was trying to figure out who he was supposed to serve. “Who is my neighbor?” he asked Jesus. And in classic style, Jesus responded to the man’s question with a story.

“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him, he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’”

Then Jesus asked, “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:30—37, MSG)

The Robbers Our traveler in this story encountered three different types of people. First, of course, are the robbers. They beat him, robbed him, and completely exploited him. While most of us would never even consider doing anything like this, sometimes we’re still tempted to see people as commodities, resources, or obstacles rather than flesh-and-blood human beings. We want to manipulate

them, avoid them, or take from them. They become our adversaries instead of individuals God has called us to love and to serve.

This affliction hits home with me when I’m driving in traffic. It’s so easy for me to get irritated with people when they cut me off or get in my way. When we see people as a problem—the person taking forever in the express lane at the grocery store or the teenager working the fast food drive-through who gets our order wrong—we tend to mistreat them right back.

The Priests In Jesus’s story, the second group our victim encountered was the priests. These religious leaders didn’t rob the man, beat him, or exploit him. They simply avoided him altogether. They were too busy doing what they saw as more important spiritual work to stop and help someone in need. Before you think that you would never ignore someone bleeding on the side of the road, think again. From time to time, we all think the best way to handle a situation is to avoid it altogether. The priests in this story didn’t think they were responsible—after all, they were busy, important people. So they didn’t serve the man; they went around him.

Maybe we think someone else will do it. Maybe we think someone else is doing it. Either way, we are not seeing the situation the way God wants us to see it. The Bible says, “When He (Jesus) looked out over the crowds, His heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36, MSG). This explains why Jesus was so effective. He saw people in the condition they were in, and their need motivated Him to do something about it.

The Good Samaritan The last person this poor victim encountered, the Good Samaritan, was the only one who saw him through the eyes of a servant leader. He didn’t see a victim to exploit or a problem to avoid. He saw a person to be loved. And that’s why he served.

Choose to Serve Anyway So how can we see people through the lens of a servant? Simple—it’s a choice. Every day we have to choose to see people the way God does. Too many of us wait for our feelings to lead, and then if we feel compassion, sympathy, or obligation toward someone, our action will follow. Too often we view love as a feeling. But love is intentionally caring or helping another person by doing

something regardless of our feelings. Real servant leaders make choices about people first, and then the feelings follow. The Good Samaritan didn’t necessarily feel like interrupting his travel plans or spending his hard-earned money on a complete stranger. He simply saw someone in need and he made a choice.

What you see when you look at someone determines how you serve. Many of us say we want to love others—but we see, feel, and move on. Servant leaders remember that someone with a chip on their shoulder may have scars on their back—so their approach is not judgment but loving action. Servant leaders serve people differently because they see people differently.

Chris Hodges is founding and senior pastor of Church of the Highlands (www.churchofthehighlands.com) with campuses all across the state of Alabama. He cofounded the Association of Related Churches in 2001, and also founded a coaching network called GROW. In addition, Chris is founder and president of the Highlands College, a ministry training school that launches students into full-time ministry careers. He speaks at conferences worldwide and is the author of the books Fresh Air, Four Cups, and The Daniel Dilemma.

Chapter 15 Compassion

The Heart of Servant Leadership


Craig Groeschel leads the church with the largest attendance in America—Life. Church. A few years ago he asked me to speak in Oklahoma City at a gathering of key staff from twenty-six locations. The meeting started with music—and the whole place quickly came alive with the most incredible energy I had ever experienced. I was scheduled to speak next and I could see it was going to be a tough act to follow! I learned that day the extent to which Craig and his wonderful organization live and lead with compassion—which, as he contends in this essay, is the heart of servant leadership. —KB

RECENTLY I WAS driving home, running late for dinner, trying to make up some time on the back roads. I’d gotten to a stretch where there’s literally nothing but a bunch of cows in a field and an occasional farmhouse or barn. (I live in Oklahoma, in case you were wondering.) I was in a big hurry, cruising along a familiar route, when I came to a stop sign and saw an unexpected sight. Right there, in the middle of nowhere, a woman was just standing beside the road.

I immediately thought, “I need to help her—she must’ve had car trouble and gotten stranded.” But almost as soon as that thought came, it triggered a mini debate in my mind. Maybe you should help her, Craig, but you’re in a hurry. You’re already going to be late for dinner, and your family’s waiting for you.

Besides, she doesn’t look upset. She’s probably there for a reason. Maybe she’s just out for a walk. Maybe someone’s meeting her there. She’s not trying to flag you down or anything.

Even with all of these justifications, I really felt I needed to help her. I wrestled back and forth in this conversation with myself—for maybe a few

seconds—then proceeded to drive right by without stopping. To this day, I still wonder what was going on with that lady. But even more than that, I wonder what was going on with me. I knew I should have helped her, but I just kept on driving. I still can’t shake the failure I feel in my heart for not stopping.

Every time I remember that late afternoon, that missed opportunity, it reminds me of something at the heart of Jesus’s ministry and at the very core of what servant leadership is all about: Compassion.

What is compassion to the servant leader? Compassion is not just a feeling; it’s an action. It’s allowing the emotion we feel to ignite the fire within to act— and to inspire others to act as well. To meet someone’s need. To offer our help. To set an example for others. To do what Jesus did. To love how Jesus loved. To lead as Jesus led.

The Bible usually uses the Greek word splagchnizomai (splahgkh-NEED- zum-eye) to describe the kind of compassion we see in Jesus’s life. Splagchnizomai means “to have deep sympathy”—literally a yearning in the bowels—to do something for someone else. Not surprisingly, every time we’re told in Scripture that Jesus felt splagchnizomai, His compassion was immediately followed by action.

After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus “withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matt. 14:13), but the crowds followed Him. So what did He do? “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matt. 14:14). In Mark’s account of this same event, Jesus feels compassion “because they were like sheep without a shepherd” so He began teaching them (Mark 6:34). Moved by their need, He immediately began healing and teaching the people.

On another occasion, two blind men sitting beside the road called out to Jesus as He and His disciples were leaving Jericho (Matt. 20:29—33). The crowds following Jesus tried to shush the men. But Jesus was having none of it. Instead, He “had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him” (Matt. 20:34). He felt so deeply that He had to act.

True servant leadership means you are called to care—not to just feel sorry for someone or feel sympathy or empathy—but to do something. Why? Because to say you care, and then not act, is to not care at all. True servant leadership

cares. And because it cares, it must act. If we’re honest, even if we want to be models of servant leadership, we’re

still prone to choose our own agendas over God’s. Just like my failure to stop for that woman on the side of the road, we get into mental arguments with ourselves where we justify all of our reasons not to act. We make excuses for ourselves when we really have no excuse for not loving others the way Jesus loves us.

Jesus did more than just model compassion in action. In Luke 10, an expert of the law came to Him and asked, “What do I need to do to be saved?” Jesus answered him, “Well, you tell me—what does the law say?” (I’m paraphrasing.) And the guy said, “Well, the law says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength. And to love your neighbor as yourself.”

So Jesus said, “You’re right! Now go and do that.” But the guy wasn’t finished. He had a hidden agenda. According to Scripture

(Luke 10:29), “he wanted to justify himself.” So he responded, “Okay, I will, but I’ve got to ask you something else first. If I’m supposed to love my neighbor, I need to know which neighbor we’re talking about. Is it my next-door neighbor, or some random guy I meet on the street, or the woman I know who brings water from the well?” You or I might ask, “Are you talking about the people in the apartment next door? Or the single mom on my team at work? Or the barista who serves me my latte at Starbucks? That neighbor?”

Instead of answering him directly, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Chris Hodges shares this passage—Luke 10:30—37—in full in chapter 14.) It’s about a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who was attacked by robbers.

In short, the Samaritan took action to help the man when others didn’t. Like Jesus, he felt something that compelled him to do something. He knew that compassion often interrupts our schedule. He knew that compassion chooses to act—that it bypasses whatever conversations are rolling around in our heads to justify our lack of activity. He didn’t seem to mind the inconvenience or the expense, but even if he did, he didn’t let it stand in the way of helping someone desperately in need. He knew that compassion—treating others like you would want to be treated—must include action.

I learned from my failure with the woman wandering at the intersection. Anytime that debate starts again in my mind—“You should stop and help.” “No, I don’t have time.” “Blah, blah, blah . . .”—I now replace it with something much simpler: “Shut up! Stop. Get out. Make a difference.”

God will move us with His type of compassion—splagchnizomai—if we will

just let Him. If we want to lead like Jesus, we need to serve like Jesus. We need to understand that as followers of Jesus we are called to care. Every one of us can reflect the compassion and care of God. We’re called to care for those in need—no matter who they are, where we are, where we’re headed, or how late it might make us for dinner.

If you want to know the secret to servant leadership, it’s pretty simple: Compassion changes lives.

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church (www.life.church), known for the innovative use of technology in spreading the Gospel, which includes the free YouVersion Bible App. The church has brick and mortar locations in eight states as well as a burgeoning international partnership ministry of Network Churches. Craig speaks at conferences worldwide and has written several books, including The Christian Atheist, Fight, From This Day Forward, and his most recent release: #Struggles—Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World.

Chapter 16 How to Spot Ideal Team Players


Pat Lencioni and I met early in his career when we were speaking at the same conference in Saskatchewan. After his excellent session, I went up to him and said, “You know the reason your stuff is so good and so useful? It all comes from the Bible.” He said, “Really?” I had started the Lead Like Jesus ministry and recognized all of the positive things Pat was teaching were things Jesus had done. That began Pat’s thinking about his faith and its relation to his work. Pat and I agree that everyone can be a servant leader—and as he will share with you, in order for that to happen it helps to have the characteristics of an effective team player. —KB

WITH ENOUGH TIME, patience, and attention from a good manager, almost anyone can learn to become a team player. I believe that. I feel the same way about servant leaders.

Having said that, some people are better at teamwork than others. These are the kind of people who add immediate value in a team environment and require much less coaching and management to contribute in a meaningful way.

So, there are two obvious questions: What do these people look like? And how do we find them? As it turns out, they have three qualities, or virtues, in common: they are humble, hungry, and smart.

Before I explain each of those virtues, let me explain how this theory came about. Like so many of my ideas, this one surfaced as a result of my work with clients over the past twenty years. Whenever I worked with CEOs and their leadership teams to identify core values, I often was asked about the values of my own firm, The Table Group. When we revealed our three values, many of our clients would ask us if they could adopt those values for themselves.

our clients would ask us if they could adopt those values for themselves. Of course, we would say “no,” explaining that they needed to come up with

concepts that reflected their unique history and culture. We were a company oriented around teamwork and known for The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,1 so the values of humility, hunger, and people smarts made sense for us. What we failed to realize was that our clients, almost all of whom were committed to the idea of teamwork, were drawn to our values because those were the building blocks of real team players.

The Three Virtues: Humble, Hungry, and Smart The three virtues seem quite simple, but require a bit of explanation:

Humble. The first and most important virtue of an ideal team player is humility. A humble person is someone who is more concerned with the success of the team than with getting credit for their own contribution. People who lack humility in a significant way—the ones who demand a disproportionate amount of attention—are dangerous for a team. Having said that, humble team players are not afraid to honestly acknowledge the skills and talents that they bring to the team, though never in a proud or boastful way.

Hungry. The next virtue of an ideal team player is hunger—the desire to work hard and do whatever is necessary to help the team succeed. Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent. They volunteer to fill gaps and take on more responsibilities, and are eagerly looking around corners for new ways to contribute to the team.

Smart. The final virtue of a team player is to be smart. This is not about being intelligent, but rather about being wise in dealing with people. Smart people understand the nuances of team dynamics and know how their words and actions impact others. Their good judgment and intuition help them deal with others in the most effective way.

As simple as these three concepts may be, the key to all this is the unique combination of all three virtues, which make a person an ideal team player. Unfortunately, when even one of these attributes is lacking in a significant way, challenges can arise.

For instance, a humble and hungry person who is not smart about people may accomplish a great deal but will often leave a trail of interpersonal destruction behind them. A person who is smart and humble but lacking in hunger will frustrate team members by doing only what is required and having to be constantly asked to do more. Finally, a team member who is hungry and smart but truly lacking in humility can have a devastating impact on a team. This type knows how to present themselves as a well-intentioned colleague, all the while looking out for their own needs. By the time team members figure this out, people have been manipulated and scarred.

How do you go about hiring ideal team players? It’s mostly about knowing what to look for and probing in nontraditional ways. And what about people who already work on the team and lack one or more of the virtues? A big part of helping them improve is making sure they understand the concepts and know where they fall short. We’ve found that merely introducing this simple model to teams and allowing them to self-assess goes a long way toward improvement.

Big Payoff The impact of ensuring that members of a team value and demonstrate humility, hunger, and people smarts cannot be overstated. Most teams that struggle are not lacking in knowledge or competence as much as they are unable to access that knowledge and competence because of dysfunctional behaviors. A team full of people who are humble, hungry, and smart will overcome those dysfunctions quickly and easily, allowing them to get more done in less time and with far fewer distractions. My hope is that this approach will help leaders hire, recognize, and cultivate ideal team players in their organizations.

Patrick Lencioni is the founder and CEO of The Table Group (www.tablegroup.com), a firm dedicated to helping leaders improve their organizational health since 1997. He is the author of ten business books that have sold nearly five million copies and been translated into more than thirty languages. His latest is The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues. Pat has been featured in numerous publications including Harvard Business Review, Inc., Fortune, Fast Company, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek.

Note 1. Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

(New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2002).

Chapter 17 The Servant Leader Identity


I first became acquainted with Laurie Beth Jones through her book Jesus CEO. When she became involved with our Lead Like Jesus ministry, I quickly became a raving fan of not only her writing and thinking, but also who she was as a person. Leaders who are interested in serving rather than being served are not only comfortable with who they are, but also interested in finding out about the people they work with. After you read Laurie Beth’s essay, the importance of understanding yourself and others will become clear to you. —KB

AS A SERVANT leader, one of Jesus’s clear strengths was that He had a clear and compelling narrative of who He was. He said, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14); “I am the gate” (John 10:7, 9); compared Himself to “living water” (John 4:10-11; 7:38) and emphasized that He “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). This self-awareness of His strengths helped others quickly grasp in a visual way who it was they were dealing with.

The brain processes visuals sixty thousand times faster than words. When Jesus said the words “shepherd” or “water” or “servant,” everyone in that culture had a clear image that came to mind. Had He, however, started stating His résumé or pedigree or paper qualifications, no doubt people would have wandered back off to the marketplace.

After my first book, Jesus CEO,1 came out, I was often invited to coach and consult with leaders of organizations. When I would say to them “Tell me who you are,” invariably they would begin to rattle off roles or titles. But when I would say, “Draw me a picture,” silence would fall over the room. It was this

lack of visual leadership identities that led me to create the Path Elements Profile, or PEP for short.

In Genesis, God uses four elements—earth, water, wind, and fire—in the creation story. Indeed, these elements are mentioned nearly two thousand times in Scripture. Jesus spoke frequently of, and to, the elements, for example comparing Himself to living water, or saying He had to come to “bring fire” (Luke 12:49). He even referred to two of His rowdiest disciples, James and John, as “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17).

Here is a quick way to illustrate the different cultural values of each of the four elements:

Fire wants fast and visible results.

Water wants harmonious, long-term relationships.

Wind wants innovation and change.

Earth wants stability and order.

So, for example, when Jesus compared Himself to living water, His desire was to create a culture of harmony and respect for others, with growing relationships as a core value. A water leader understands that growth takes time and is willing to work below the surface, even invisibly, to make that happen.

A fire leader, on the other hand, values conflict as a refining process and wants to gain territory at nearly any cost. A fire leader wants visible results and wants them now. In many ways, this describes self-serving leaders to whom Jesus came to bring the perspective that great leadership had to do with both results and people.

Wind and fire move fast, and almost always have a visible impact. Earth and water move more slowly and tend to do their work underground.

Imagine what happens, then, when a fire leader lands in a water setting. The fire leader wants immediate results, using language like “My way or the highway.” The water culture they inherited wants things to be done in harmonious ripples. Trouble ensues and steam rises. One or the other gives way or, better still, they create and develop a both/and relationship.

Or perhaps a wind innovative thinker is brought into an earth organization that likes the way things have always been done. A servant leader with a water temperament will take the time to listen, reflect, evaluate, and assess.

Leadership can come from any profile. While fires may tend to be the most

likely to blaze a trail, if unchecked they can destroy the forest. While waters always seek to serve, without focusing on results it can turn into a country club. Earth leaders are masters at detailed planning but can also be overcome by analysis paralysis. Wind leaders can help an army set sail but, without proper harnessing, can stall or send them in multiple directions—sometimes just for fun. Consider the following examples.

King David, beloved by God, was a wind-fire leader who was given to high and low bursts of order and enthusiasm. One look at the Psalms and anyone can see how this elemental combination in a leader can lead to bold and sudden victories as well as near depression in a cave.

Solomon, in contrast, was more of a servant leader as a water-earth combination—the exact opposite of his impetuous warrior father. Solomon’s first act was to send gifts to all surrounding territorial leaders rather than declare war. The tempo in Proverbs reveals an almost steady drumbeat of wisdom—do this and you get that—which is in great contrast to moody, haunting, exhilarating Psalms.

Whatever your God-created elemental makeup is will be reflected in all the work you do with a team. Jesus compared Himself to living water, and indeed when you follow His actions He acted very much like water in many ways. He said that His mission was to bring abundant life. That’s what water does. He always sought the lowest place and, as a servant leader, told His disciples that honor is to be found in stooping to wash someone’s feet as opposed to standing over their corpse with their head dangling in your hand (fire).

He did show upset in turning over the tables at the temple, but wind and water acting together create a powerful storm. He never wrote anything down, which would have been an earth characteristic. He told people to put away their swords and bless those who cursed them. This is definitely not a fire characteristic or response.

Likewise, you as a leader are going to do and teach things that reveal who you are elementally, thriving on bold initiatives and welcoming confrontation if it brings about change. If you are an earth leader, like Nehemiah, you will want to do things in a well-thought-out and measured manner—going about your work quietly, even being willing, as a servant, to get low in the ditches if it helps you see where the root problems are. If you are a wind leader, like Joshua, you will use your voice to blow the trumpets that bring those walls of Jericho tumbling down. You will say, “This is easy! Cross the river now!” and bring people across a river into the land that had been denied to them for forty years.

One of my greatest privileges as a consultant was working with a servant

leader with a water temperament who inherited a fire/earth organization. Over fifteen years, I watched him turn silos into pipelines, drive decision making downward, and teach people ultimately that their greatest promise was taking care of others as well as one another.

Knowing which type of elemental leader you are can do much good for yourself and for those around you. Are you a fire leader, or more like water? More like earth, or more like wind? Jesus, as the greatest leadership role model of all time, obviously had flexibility to all four styles although in my opinion he was predominantly a water/wind combination. Most likely you are a powerful combination of two of the four as well. How about the people you work with? Do you have a sense of their type or combination of types? If you do, you can better serve them.

Remember, Jesus was very clear about his leadership style and adapted it to the special needs of his disciples. While he didn’t attempt to change the styles of his followers, he helped them see other perspectives, which made one plus one greater than two. Are you clear about your leadership style and how it relates to the needs of the people around you? How can you help them bring their strengths to bear on the vision and direction your organization is working toward? Laurie Beth Jones (www.lauriebethjones.com) is an internationally

recognized bestselling author, speaker, inspirational life coach, and trainer. A business development coach and consultant to CEOs and organizations, Laurie Beth’s fourteen business books, written from a spiritual perspective, include Jesus CEO; Jesus, Entrepreneur; Teach Your Team to Fish, and The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life.

Note 1. Laurie Beth Jones, Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary

Leadership (New York: Hyperion, 1995).

Chapter 18 The Four Corners of the Leader’s Universe


I first became an admirer of Henry Cloud through his writings. Then I met him as a presenter at a servant leadership conference and got to know him through our work in the field. He is not only a great human being but also one of the foremost thought leaders on servant leadership—as you will see when you read this essay. —KB

HAVE YOU EVER met a friend for lunch, and to learn how you are doing they asked this question: “So, where are you?”

I’ll bet you have. When you think about it, this is a really interesting question to ask someone to find out how he or she is doing. Obviously, the person knows where you are physically because you are sitting right in front of them. What they are really asking is where you are on the inside: in your heart, mind, and soul. The truth is, on the inside we are always somewhere. And because we are relational beings designed for connection with others, the place where we are inside always involves a state of connectedness or disconnectedness with others. Good or bad, we can’t escape that we are relational in nature and that each moment we feel the results of how our relationships are going. Where we are in those relationships has a lot to do with how we perform and function; whether we thrive or stagnate; whether we win or lose.

In leadership, this is a big, big deal. Servant leaders are leaders who spend a lot of time asking themselves that very question about the people they lead: Where are they? Where are my people today—inside their hearts, minds, and souls? How does it feel for them to be here? How does it feel to be under my leadership? How does it feel to be on my team, or in my department or organization?

Servant leaders ask this question because research points to one conclusion: how people feel in their sense of connectedness with their leaders and peers is going to drastically affect whether they succeed or fail. They know this either because of their own leadership training, their life experience, or both. So they want to get it right.

But that brings up a question in the servant leader’s mind: If I need to find my people’s hearts, where do I look—where might their hearts, minds, and souls be at any given moment? Great question.

If we are looking for someone, it’s good to have a map to know where to look to aid in our search. In working with leaders, I have found it very helpful to give them a map so that they can go on an active search for their people. There are only four possibilities of where the people you lead might be at any given moment. I call this map “The Four Corners.”

Think of it this way. Picture a square map with four quadrants: three bad and one good. The people you lead will always be in one of these four locations— and it is a servant leader’s job to find them and lead them into the only corner where they can thrive.

Corner One: No Connection This is the corner where someone feels like they are alone. In it all by themselves. It does not mean they have no people around them; they probably do. They probably have a boss or are on a team or surrounded by other colleagues. But to the real question of where they are in their hearts, minds, and souls, they feel very much alone. Disconnected. Not a part of things. Not listened to, encouraged, or supported. We know that this place is one where their engagement is lowered, motivation diminishes, suspiciousness and fear increase, and leaving becomes a greater option. Nothing good happens in Corner One—it is the place of detachment and isolation. Decisions are in silos, wins and losses are not shared and built upon, collaboration suffers, competitiveness is up and cooperation down. The experience of gaining meaning and purpose from work, of being on a shared mission with others, decreases. Not to mention, when these people are struggling in some way, the chances of getting any kind of help are very low. They feel as if they are on their own even if they are in meetings all day long.

Corner Two: Bad Connection Corner Two is the place where someone feels a connection with others, but the

nature of that connection leaves them feeling bad about themselves. They feel not good enough. The phrase nothing I do is good enough goes through their head over and over. They feel inferior, flawed, judged, criticized, and a host of other really crummy feelings that diminish their performance, motivation, creativity, thinking, judgment, and other major ingredients for being able to win. They may try hard to gain the approval they are not getting; but after a while, they become defeated, resentful, and disengaged. Often, they will even become adversarial and divisive as they feel someone is against them and look for an ally against the enemy who makes them feel so bad. No one does well when feeling like they are not good enough. All of their performance tools—their hearts, minds, and souls—begin to decay. They just can’t work well when they feel so crummy about themselves.

Corner Three: Fake Good Connection Corner Three is the place where people go to feel good when they find that being disconnected or feeling bad about themselves are not good options. They have to get some kind of relief, so they seek some way to medicate the bad feeling they had in the first two corners. They might look to connect with people who suck up to them and flatter them, those who will not tell them the truth and who agree with everything they say, even about other people. They are attracted to others who think they can do no wrong and they avoid everyone else, creating alliances that are not healthy. Some of these connections might even be illicit relationships or other destructive activities to make themselves feel better. They may become addicted to things like alcohol or food or the internet. Some get obsessed with needing to hear good numbers about sales or other metrics, driving their people for more and more performance, to make themselves feel good. Some seek awards, status, or promotions, as the addiction for feeling good is equated with being seen as good by others—smarter, stronger, greater— whatever it means to them. But this good feeling is shallow and not truly satisfying. It is like a sugar high—it always wears off.

Corner Four: Real Connection Corner Four is the place servant leaders want their people to be—the place where people feel genuinely connected with leaders and peers who are being honest and supportive with them. It is the corner where people can be honest and vulnerable about what they are going through—what they are thinking, discovering, or needing. It is the place where they can celebrate doing well, get help if they need it, increase learning, and thrive. They can be honest about what is working for them and what isn’t, and are free to be curious and vulnerable.

is working for them and what isn’t, and are free to be curious and vulnerable. They find support and encouragement when they struggle and appreciation when they win. They are challenged and pushed to get better, but in a way that is motivating rather than controlling or diminishing. They have accountability, which makes them not only feel valued but also want to do well. Most of all, they feel they are winning with a team and an organization, for reasons that transcend their own interests—for a purpose larger than themselves. In Corner Four, hearts, minds, and souls thrive and prosper. Energy is up, brains are sizzling with creativity and innovation, collaboration is high, and people are fulfilled. As a result, outcomes are better. Because of the support, development, and accountability, how could that not be true?

Leaders: Go on a Search and Ask Your People “Where Are You?” I began with a question: Where are you? What if, as a leader, you saw this as one of the tools you could use each day—looking at your people and your teams and asking which corner they are in? What if you were on a mission to find out if they were in any of the three harmful corners so you could help them find Corner Four?

Are they in Corner One—isolated and disconnected? If so, what can you do to get everyone connected and feeling like they are an important part of the whole? Pull in those who have been disengaged and find out what caused it and how you can make it better.

Are they in Corner Two—feeling bad about themselves and discouraged? Find out what is making them feel that way. Are they hearing criticism more than encouragement? Address problems in a spirit of improvement instead of judgment. Is it something you are doing? Or is it their boss or someone on their team? Ask yourself, “What might I be doing to contribute to a culture of fear where people feel that they are not doing enough?”

Are they in Corner Three—always seeking to feel good in some way? Do they gravitate toward those who flatter them, always looking for praise or higher achievement? Are they addicted to success or position or drifting to unhealthy feel-good activities to medicate themselves? Ask yourself “How might I address their need to feel good in shallow ways by building them up in real ways so that they do not need constant adulation? How might I get them to see their weaknesses as growth opportunities instead of something to run away from? How can I make the culture an environment of learning instead of one where people feel they have to be perfect?”

Or are they in Corner Four—feeling connected, safe, supported, corrected, and held accountable in good ways? Are they feeling positively motivated and safe coming to you and the team when they are struggling? People in Corner Four see others as being for them instead of against them. They know there are people they can turn to for help and collaboration—their workplace is a place where their needs get met, even if they are confused or need clarity. When there are issues that need to be addressed, they know they will be listened to and those issues will be attended to. They feel energized by their relationships. What do you need to do to make sure Corner Four is happening? How can you help your people—or your entire organization—get to Corner Four?

A servant leader is someone who knows it matters where their people are at any moment, in any season. Servant leaders do not allow their teams to drift into disconnectedness, or be crushed under negative criticism, or hide behind flattery and happy talk. They seek to create real, supportive, yet highly accountable and challenging environments where people feel that their hearts, minds, and souls are engaged every day. If your team or organization can be a Corner Four place, where each time someone is asked “Where are you?” they answer “I am in Corner Four today,” you will know you are a leader who serves your people well.

Henry Cloud is a psychologist, leadership coach and consultant, and bestselling author of more than twenty books. He is highly regarded for his ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business. Henry completed his PhD in clinical psychology at Biola University. His book The Power of the Other explains in depth his Four Corners concept and the leadership skills needed to produce Corner Four relationships.

Part Three Lessons in Servant Leadership

What People Have Learned from Observing Servant Leadership in Action

• James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, in their essay “Finding Your Voice,” emphasize that what earns the respect of your people is not your position, talent, or the tools and techniques you use—it’s whether you are you.

• In her essay “A Lesson from My Father: Washing Feet,” Phyllis Hennecy Hendry shares the most important lesson she learned from her father: selflessly caring for and serving others can change lives.

• In Neal Nybo’s essay, “The Puddle Is Not the Problem,” he shows how servant leaders must not only help their people identify problems but also prepare them to embrace necessary change.

• Jeffrey W. Foley, in “Five Army-Tested Lessons of Servant Leadership,” describes how the lessons he learned while serving in the U.S. Army can help civilian servant leaders create that same winning culture in their workplace.

• In his essay “A Baptism of Servant Leadership,” Erwin Raphael McManus illustrates how the choices we make to serve when nobody is watching in many ways can say more about us as a servant leader than the things we do for all to see.

• Jon Gordon, in “Little Things and Big Things,” shares that there might not be a more important servant leadership role than that of a parent.

• Margie Blanchard’s essay, “In Praise of Followership,” emphasizes that the success of servant leaders often depends on their having followers who are willing to serve, too.

Chapter 19 Finding Your Voice


I got to know Barry Posner when he was working on his doctorate at the University of Massachusetts where I was a professor. We reconnected when he teamed up with Jim Kouzes and they became one of the most dynamic duos in the field of leadership today. In this essay, Jim and Barry reflect on the nature of leadership and address the question of whether leadership is something that can be learned. The three of us agree that effective servant leadership is an inside-out job. All of the servant leaders I’ve had the pleasure to work with are comfortable in their own skin—in Jim and Barry’s terms, they have “found their voice.” Thanks to you both for validating that truth. —KB

ONE OF THE most persistent myths in our culture associates leadership with rank. Another myth attributes leadership to talent. But leadership isn’t a position or a special gift that only a few special people have.1 It’s an observable, learnable set of skills and practices available to everyone, anywhere in the organization.

We were making that case to a group of senior managers at a seminar when a hand shot up across the room. “I’d like to challenge that statement,” said one participant. “I’ve been pondering this lately. Can anyone really learn to lead? If so, why do we seem to lack effective leadership these days?”

That Special Leadership Something Now why is that? What is it about leadership that constantly raises questions about the capacity to learn it? What is it about the concept of leadership that

brings forth this question? Tell us, what is that unique something about leadership? What is the something else about leadership that can’t be learned?

Here are a few representative responses to these questions from workshop participants: “Soul.” “Spirit.” “It’s inside yourself.” “Ethics.” “Value system.”

Is there anything on this list that you cannot learn? Maybe some of these things can’t be taught, but can you learn them? You may or may not agree with what others said, but think about it for a moment. Soul? Spirit? Ethics? Values? Can you learn about your soul? Can you learn about your spirit? Can you learn what is right? Can you learn what you hope the future to be? Can you learn what gives you passion? Not for everyone. Not for society. But for you?

We bet you can. You won’t find the answer in a workshop or a book, including the ones we’ve written. But if you search inside yourself, you will find your truth. As Ken Blanchard has said about servant leadership: “It’s an inside- out job. It starts in your heart with who you are—your character and your answer to the question am I here to serve or be served?”

In his witty book Management of the Absurd, psychologist and CEO Richard Farson writes:

In both parenthood and management, it’s not so much what we do as what we are that counts. What parents do deliberately appears to make little difference in the most important outcomes—whether their children grow up to be happy or unhappy, successful or unsuccessful, good or evil. There is no question that parents can and should do worthwhile things for their children, but it’s what they are that will really matter. . . . The same dynamic occurs in management and leadership. People learn—and respond to—what we are.2

Richard nailed it. All the techniques and all the tools that fill the pages of all the management and leadership books are not substitutes for who and what you are. In fact, they boomerang if thrown by some spin-meister who’s mastered form but not substance.

We have been collaborating on leadership research for thirty-five years and we keep rediscovering that credibility is the foundation of leadership. It’s been reinforced so often that we’ve come to refer to it as the First Law of Leadership: if you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message. People don’t follow your technique; they follow you—your message and your embodiment of that message. This is key for effective servant leaders.

In Leadership Jazz, Max De Pree, former chairman and CEO of the Michigan furniture maker Herman Miller, tells a moving story about being with his

prematurely born granddaughter during the first days of her fragile life. The nurse had advised Max and his wife to touch as well as talk to the tiny infant, “because she has to be able to connect your voice to your touch.” That message, says Max, is “at the core of becoming a leader.”3

Leadership credibility is about connecting voice and touch, about practicing what you preach, and about doing what you say you will do. But as Max makes quite clear, there’s a prior task to connecting voice and touch. It’s “finding one’s voice in the first place.”

Soul Searching Authentic servant leadership flows from the inside out. It does not come from the outside in. Inside-out leadership is about discovering who you are, what drives you to do what you do, and what gives you the credibility to lead others. Inside-out leadership is about becoming the author of your own story and the maker of your own history. Inside-out leadership is also the only way to respond to what your people want from you. And what is that? What they most want is to know who you genuinely are.

Finding your voice is critical if you are to be a servant leader. If you don’t find your voice, you may find yourself with a vocabulary that belongs to someone else, mouthing words that were written by a speechwriter who is nothing like you at all. If you doubt the importance of choosing your own vocabulary, consider these phrases from the speech by a banking manager we observed during the course of our research:

• “You’ve got to watch out for the headhunters.” • “Keep your capital, and keep it dry.” • “We’ll act like SWAT teams.” • “We’re going to beat their brains out.” • “We won’t tolerate the building of fiefdoms.” • “There will be only a few survivors.”

Contrast them with these phrases from Anita Roddick,4 founder of The Body Shop:

• “We communicate with passion—and passion persuades.” • “I think all businesses practices would improve immeasurably if they were guided by feminine principles—qualities like love and care and intuition.”

• “What we need is optimism, humanism, enthusiasm, intuition, curiosity, love,

humour, magic, fun, and that secret ingredient—euphoria.” • “I believe that service—whether it is serving the community or your family or the people you love, or whatever—is fundamental to what life is about.”

What do these words communicate about the guiding beliefs and assumptions of the individuals speaking? Would any of these words be in your lexicon? Would you want them used in your organization?

Every artist knows that finding a voice is most definitely not a matter of technique. It’s a matter of time and a matter of searching—soul searching.

We remember attending, with an artist friend, a retrospective of painter Richard Diebenkorn’s work. Toward the end of our gallery walk, our friend turned to us and made this observation: “There are really three periods in an artist’s life. In the first, we paint exterior landscapes. In the second, we paint interior landscapes. In the third, they come together into an artist’s unique style —in the third period, we paint ourselves.” We consider this the most important art appreciation lesson we’ve ever received. It applies just as well to the appreciation of the art of servant leadership.

When first learning to lead, you paint what you see outside yourself—the exterior landscape. You read biographies and autobiographies of famous leaders, you read books by experienced executives and dedicated scholars, you listen to podcasts by motivational speakers, you watch streaming TED Talks, and you participate in training programs. You accept job assignments so that you can work alongside someone who can coach you.

You do all this to master the fundamentals, the tools, and the techniques. You’re clumsy at first, failing more than succeeding. But pretty soon you can give a speech with ease, conduct a meeting with grace, listen to others with openness, and praise an employee with style. It’s an essential period; an aspiring leader can no more skip the fundamentals than can an aspiring painter.

Then it happens. Somewhere along the way you notice how that last speech sounded mechanically rote, how that last meeting was a boring routine, and how that last encounter felt terribly sad and empty. You awaken to the frightening thought that the words aren’t yours, and that the technique is out of a text, not straight from the heart.

This can be a truly terrifying moment. You’ve invested so much time and energy in learning to do all the right things and you suddenly see that they are no longer serving you well. They seem hollow. You stare into the darkness of your inner territory and begin to wonder what lies inside. You say to yourself I’m not someone else. I’m a unique human being. But who exactly am I? What is my true

voice? For aspiring leaders, this awakening initiates a period of intense internal

exploration—a period of going beyond technique, beyond training, beyond copying what the masters do, beyond taking the advice of others. And if you surrender to it, after exhausting experimentation and often painful suffering, there emerges from all those abstract strokes on the canvas an expression of self that is truly your own.

Your True Voice The turning point in your development as a leader comes when you’re able to merge the lessons from your outer and inner journeys. You awaken to the fact that you don’t have to copy someone else and you don’t have to read a script written by someone else. Unless it’s your words, and your style, then it’s not really you. It’s just an act—you pretending to be you.

This leadership lesson is quite similar to what Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, tells would-be writers in her classes:

The truth of your experience can only come through in your own voice. If it is wrapped in someone else’s voice, we readers are suspicious, as if you are dressed up in someone else’s clothes. You cannot write out of someone else’s big dark place; you can only write out of your own. When you try to capture the truth of your experience in some other person’s voice or on that person’s terms, you are moving yourself one step further from what you have seen and what you know.5

What’s true for writers is just as true for leaders. You cannot lead out of someone else’s experience. You can only lead out of your own.

To lead others, you have to learn about yourself. After all, if you are to speak out, you have to know what to speak about, and if you are to stand up for your beliefs, you have to know the beliefs you stand for. To do what you say, you have to know what you want to say. Authentic servant leadership cannot come from the outside in. It comes from the inside out.

So we’ll have to amend what we said to the workshop participants. Yes, you can learn to lead, but don’t confuse leadership with position or place. Don’t confuse leadership with talent. And don’t confuse leadership with tools and techniques. They are not what earn you the respect and commitment of your people. What earns you their respect in the end is whether you are you.

So just who are you, anyway? What a great question for aspiring, as well as

experienced, servant leaders.

James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner (www.leadershipchallenge.com) are coauthors of the bestselling, award-winning book, The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations and more than a dozen other books on leadership. Jim is the Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership and Barry is the Accolti Endowed Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University.

Notes 1. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge: How to

Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations (San Francisco: Wiley, 2012, 2017). See also their Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader (San Francisco: Wiley, 2016).

2. Richard Farson, Management of the Absurd: Paradoxes of Leadership (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996).

3. Max De Pree, Leadership Jazz (New York: Currency Doubleday, 1992). 4. Anita Roddick, Body and Soul: Profits with Principles—The Amazing

Story of Anita Roddick and The Body Shop (New York: Crown, 1991). 5. Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New

York: Pantheon, 1994).

Chapter 20 A Lesson from My Father

Washing Feet


I first met Phyllis Hennecy Hendry when she invited me to speak at a December gathering of the Augusta, Georgia, chamber of commerce. She talked me into coming there for no fee by raising the possibility of playing golf at Augusta National, home of the Masters golf tournament. Being a golf nut, of course I agreed. Everyone I talked to in Augusta said that, as a leader, Phyllis was a 12 on a 10-point scale. So Phil Hodges and I lured her away from her job to be president and CEO of our Lead Like Jesus ministry. Read her essay and find out where Phyllis’s servant leadership heart came from. —KB

I OFTEN THINK back to the day my dad told me that God had called him to be a pastor. Even though he had worked as a construction supervisor all of his life, at age forty-eight, because he was a devoted follower of Jesus, he had been asked to help a large church in our community start a new church in another part of the city. He would be a bivocational pastor.

When my dad announced this to me, I remember wrapping my arms around his neck and telling him that I would help. I could never have imagined all the lessons I would learn as I helped. My greatest assignments were going with my dad to visit people in the community on Saturday mornings and playing the piano for the congregation on Sundays.

Visits with Mr. Lunn I will never forget our first Saturday visit with Mr. Lunn. He was a crotchety old man. I remember thinking that his wrinkles met in odd places around his face, especially when he smiled. Maybe that was why he didn’t smile much. At first, it was amazing to my eight-year-old-mind that my dad wanted to visit this man every Saturday morning. On our very first visit, Mr. Lunn had made it clear he would not be attending my dad’s new little mission church. But he did say we were welcome to visit him any time, so my dad took him at his word.

My dad and I began our Saturday mornings together at a small local restaurant, and then we would do our visitations—starting with Mr. Lunn. He and my dad would sit in rocking chairs on the front porch and I would sit on the steps. On our third visit, Mr. Lunn asked me if I wanted a grape Nehi drink—and of course, I did. He didn’t seem so crotchety to me after that.

I don’t recall my dad ever inviting Mr. Lunn to church again. I do remember the two of them talking about fishing and world news. They talked about a lot of things. Our visits always ended with Mr. Lunn saying, “Come back anytime” and patting me on the head.

I once asked my dad, “Why do we keep visiting Mr. Lunn since he said he is not coming to church?” My dad explained that visiting Mr. Lunn was one of the most important things we could do on Saturdays. He said, “We are washing Mr. Lunn’s feet.” I was really confused.

Then my dad reminded me about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples to show them that serving people was the way to do everything. And by visiting Mr. Lunn, we were serving him even if he never came to church. “Besides, I really like Mr. Lunn,” my dad said.

Something’s Different After months of regular Saturday morning visits, my dad heard from a neighbor that Mr. Lunn was in the hospital. We went immediately. He was so glad to see us—and I could tell something had changed.

When Mr. Lunn came home from the hospital, we took him soup and cornbread. My dad changed light bulbs and repaired minor things in his home. I sang to him. He smiled a lot more now—and instead of patting me on the head before we left, he would hug both my dad and me. He always said, “Thank you for coming.”

Even though my dad did not mention coming to church, he did talk about Jesus, telling Mr. Lunn about the difference Jesus had made in his life. Mr. Lunn

sometimes asked questions, and my father patiently listened and responded to each one. I thought my dad was so smart because the questions seemed pretty hard to me.

As I mentioned, I served as the pianist for our little church even though I was only eight years old. I had been playing since I was five, but my repertoire was small. No one seemed to mind. One Sunday morning as we finished singing, I looked up from the piano to see my dad staring toward the back door of our church. A tear unashamedly rolled down his cheek.

I looked immediately toward the door and I could hardly believe it. There stood Mr. Lunn in his Sunday best. At the end of the service, Mr. Lunn walked straight down the aisle to my dad. Mr. Lunn told the whole church that morning that he didn’t know the Bible well, but he did know that he wanted what the preacher had. He had come to understand that it was Jesus that made the difference. He said, “I want Jesus to live in me, too.”

Several months later, Mr. Lunn became very ill. As my dad and I visited him in the hospital and at his home, we heard how much our visits had meant to him. We met his family and he introduced us as his “good friends.” One day Mr. Lunn told me he had an important favor to ask of me. After a few quiet minutes, he asked if I would sing at his funeral. Of course, with tears flowing, I promised I would. I knew it would be the last way I could wash his feet, as my dad had taught me.

Serving Changes Everything My dad taught me the simple act of caring about someone and how serving people changes everything—literally. Even though he died more than thirty years ago, I remember his amazing example of service—not only to Mr. Lunn, but also countless others who always seemed to call in the middle of the night, knowing my dad would respond.

I often return in my mind to those hours spent with my dad, remembering how he listened, loved, and taught me. I know now that he was washing my feet, too.

Under Phyllis Hennecy Hendry’s leadership as the inaugural president and CEO of Lead Like Jesus (www.leadlikejesus.com), the organization has grown exponentially, equipping and empowering thousands of people around the world to lead as Jesus led. Phyllis is coauthor, with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, of Lead Like Jesus Revisited.

Chapter 21 The Puddle Is Not the Problem


When the longtime pastor retired from the church my wife, Margie, and I attend—Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church—I volunteered to be interim coach in their transition of finding a new preacher. In the process, I got to know and appreciate Neal Nybo, the executive pastor at the time, as a wonderful pastor, writer, and human being. I think you will really appreciate Neal’s creative mind in this essay about obvious “puddle” issues and hidden “cabinet” issues. —KB

I WALKED INTO my kitchen to set something on the counter and found a puddle of water on the floor in front of the sink. The sink was dry. No one had been doing dishes. I got a sinking feeling (no pun intended) that the puddle was neither my real nor my most important problem. Cleaning it up would not resolve my situation—if I cleaned it up, the puddle would form again. My real problem was inside the kitchen cabinet. I was not eager to open it for fear of what I might find. Sure, it could be a small drip from a pipe I could tighten. But it also could be a stagnant pool damaging the interior of the cabinet or hidden mold that could hurt anyone who comes near it. The challenge and root issue—a leaky pipe— was completely out of sight in the cabinet. The fact was that before I could discover and address my predicament, I had to risk opening the cabinet door.

Servant Leaders Help Open Cabinets People and organizations face puddle problems on a regular basis. These kinds of issues are visible and relatively understandable. The solutions are known,

even if they are not easy. For instance, I know a manager who regularly felt at odds with her supervisor over the allotment of time each of them received during their weekly team meeting. Her supervisor put a high priority on training and regularly used meeting time to teach insights from current leadership books he’d been reading. The manager had practical issues she needed the team to address. It was a recognizable problem with an understandable solution: reallocate time based on the needs of the team.

Unlike puddle problems, cabinet issues are not recognized so easily. These kinds of problems may be intentionally hidden or ignored by both leadership and staff. They are often not addressed directly—and when they are, the cabinet is opened and they become observable puddle problems that can be solved.

For example, the aforementioned meeting-time puddle problem led the manager—a servant leader who was as interested in her supervisor’s concerns as her own—to approach things in a creative way. She pointed out to her supervisor the pattern of not having time in meetings to address issues they had agreed on. She asked him if they could work together to find a time management strategy that would address the supervisor’s vision for regular training and also give the manager time to accomplish her agenda. The supervisor admitted that time management was a perceived area of weakness—a cabinet issue—for him. Secretly, he felt guilty because his inability to manage time often left his staff in a state of chaos. He had hoped that the leadership training might compensate for his lack of time management skills.

Dealing with the puddle problem by simply reallocating time in the meeting would not solve the hidden cabinet issue for the supervisor—it would just surface again or sprout a leak elsewhere. The manager suggested to the supervisor that he bring in a person to train everyone in time management, and also that he use the team meeting as a public forum for practicing his own skills. The supervisor announced to the team his intention to give the manager the time she needed in the meetings and stated that the team could hold him accountable to do so. The puddle was cleaned up and his potentially career-ending cabinet issue had begun to be addressed.

Puddle Problems Tend to Be Technical in Nature According to Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, technical problems are issues people face on a regular basis for which they have known solutions.1 For example, needing to lose five pounds after the holidays is a technical (puddle) challenge with known solutions. To lose weight, one eats less and exercises more.

Cabinet problems cannot be addressed by authoritative decisions. They require those involved to internalize a change before the problem can be resolved. For example, in the case of being overweight, much research has been done regarding stress eating. With persistent stress, the hormone cortisol builds up in our body and increases appetite. If stress is an unidentified factor in someone’s weight gain, a puddle change like walking up the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator will not solve the cabinet problem—stress. A cabinet solution is often more complicated than a puddle solution—just as locating and fixing a leaky pipe is more complicated than wiping up a puddle on the floor.

Addressing adaptive challenges requires new ways of processing information and making decisions: experimentation, innovation, and changes in attitudes, values, and behaviors. It is vital that these most important and difficult issues be dealt with, but too often they are avoided. If servant leaders don’t address them and lead their organizations through change, who will?

Without Leadership, Cabinet Issues Can Escalate Servant leaders need to help their people identify problems and prepare them to embrace necessary change. Regional executives lament the fact that relatively benign challenges too often blow up into large conflicts because no one onsite addressed the challenge in its early stages. In a personal email dated July 11, 2011, one such executive wrote: “Often we don’t get notified of difficulties in local branches until after there is significant or public conflict. Instead of being able to work on prevention and resolution, we have to work on damage control, restoration, and recovery.”

My experience is as much with churches as other organizations—and the problem of unaddressed cabinet issues is as pervasive among the sacred as the secular. In San Diego over a ten-year period from 1999 to 2009, five churches facing public, disruptive conflict saw average membership declines of 48 percent. In contrast, seven similar churches that did not experience public conflict experienced average decreases of only 6 percent. While financial and numeric losses are very real, imagine the added emotional and spiritual trauma that happens in faith-based organizations in tightly knit communities.

Every servant leader knows about or has been a part of an organization, family, or friendship devastated by conflict. I have counseled well-meaning people who were stymied by lack of personal knowledge and ability, and by organizational cultures that resisted exposing cabinet issues. I have realized that the life transformation we all seek is available as we live and work through our

lives together over time—even amid the discomfort of conflict. Discovering and resolving challenges is a vital tool used by God to do deep, transformative work in human beings. As servant leaders we have the opportunity to bring this attention and resource to those we care about most.

Neal Nybo (www.nealnybo.com) has been an ordained pastor since 1997. Neal came to ordained ministry out of a strong business career and a passion for communicating the great news of the kingdom of God. He is the author of Move Forward, Shut Tight, and Discovering Your Organization’s Next Step.

Note 1. Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, Leadership on the Line: Staying

Alive through the Dangers of Leading (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002).

Chapter 22 Five Army-Tested Lessons of Servant



My father grew up in Highland Falls at the foot of West Point. However, when he graduated from high school, he decided to go to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He retired as a rear admiral. Even though I am a Navy brat, I have a high regard for West Point graduates based on my visits to West Point as a kid. I met Brigadier General Jeff Foley, a hero of mine, through our Lead Like Jesus ministry when he volunteered to be chairman of our board of trustees. As you will learn from this essay, he learned a lot as a soldier. —KB

IN THE WORDS of General Creighton Abrams, former U.S. Army chief of staff: “Soldiers are not in the Army. Soldiers are the Army.”

To volunteer to willingly give up one’s life as a soldier for a greater cause is perhaps the most profound example of servant leadership. Soldiers join the military for a host of reasons. One major reason soldiers choose to stay is the experience they share becoming a band of brothers and sisters—that special fraternity called the profession of arms.

For many folks not in this profession, there is a common misperception that the Army operates in a strict hierarchical structured environment. Non-Army personnel believe that command and control is exercised daily by those with the highest rank. There is some truth to that—especially during times of crisis when quick decisions need to be made. These are leadership matters of life and death.

However, for the vast majority of time when lives are not on the line, nothing could be further from the truth. In the Army, true leadership is not about being a master—it’s about being a servant.

master—it’s about being a servant. In a personal email, General Stanley A. McChrystal (U.S. Army, retired),

former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, shared with me a keen insight on servant leadership:

Servant leadership is a term that I believe describes leaders whose actions and motivations reflect a selfless commitment to a cause, an organization, or their teammates. The key lies in intent more than in specific behaviors. It is an important distinction, because a leader’s skills or effectiveness aren’t a function of their underlying motivations—leaders can be exceptionally effective even when entirely self-centered or even evil in their intent. Servant leadership is a decision by any person to commit themselves to others in a way that subordinates personal gain to a wider sense of responsibility. I’ve seen it demonstrated by the humblest of soldiers whose personal presence is anything but stereotypical of our vision of leadership. And yet it brings a quiet dignity and underlying sense of purpose that inspires.

What follows are five tactics that represent valuable lessons about servant leadership I learned during my thirty-two-year career as a soldier.

Lesson 1: Commit to Lead by Oaths, Values, and Creeds New soldiers take an oath when enlisting in the U.S. Army: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

In the mid-1990s, the Army embraced and solidified seven core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. These values define expectations of behavior and are well defined, trained, and reinforced routinely throughout military life.

The Soldier’s Creed reinforces the commitment to these values—another clear example of servant leadership:

I am an American Soldier. I am a warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment, and myself. I am an expert and I am a professional. I stand ready

to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I am an American Soldier.

With the help of a congressional nomination, I attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1974. While at West Point, three aspects stood out for me regarding servant leadership. The first was our motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.” We learned on the first day of training that it is not about us. It is about something far greater: our nation and our comrades.

The second was our Honor Code: I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those that do.

The third aspect was the requirement to memorize Major General John M. Schofield’s Definition of Discipline. General Schofield (a West Point graduate) addressed the Corps of Cadets on August 11, 1879. “The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment,” said Schofield. “On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army.” Committing this definition to memory was one way to ingrain into our minds the dangers of toxic leadership, among other things.

Oaths, values, and creeds are not just words. They drive home the commitment to serve fellow soldiers and our nation—both greater causes than ourselves. They provide the foundation for the Army’s culture.

Lesson 2: Listen by Squinting with Your Ears One of the most profound leadership skills in any organization is the ability to listen. My mentor, Major General Perry Smith (U.S. Air Force, retired), calls it “squinting with your ears.”

Sergeants are the leaders of the enlisted branch of the Army. The origin of the term sergeant is from the Latin serviens, which means one who serves. So at the very core of the Army, the focus is on sergeants as ones who serve.

In 1978 I landed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina—home of the Airborne—on my initial assignment out of West Point. On the day of my arrival, I was met by the senior enlisted soldier of the battalion, Command Sergeant Major Tad Gaweda—a tough, battle-hardened veteran soldier and marvelous leader. He said to me that first day, “Every soldier has a sergeant. Don’t ever forget that.” The advice and keen insights I learned from listening to my sergeants paid huge dividends throughout my career, and continues to do so today.

The need to listen is not limited to sergeants, of course. You cannot help

anyone if you do not listen with the intent of understanding. Active listening demands tireless practice. When I was able to set aside my ego, I learned tons from squinting with my ears.

Lesson 3: Be Relentless in the Development of Leaders The Army does not have professional privates or lieutenants. Soldiers either get promoted or leave—it is either up or out. Those who demonstrate leadership potential earn the opportunity to continue to serve.

The biggest differentiator between the U.S. Army and all others is the monumental investment in the training and leadership development of our professional noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps—our sergeants. We call our NCOs the backbone of our Army because of the monumental role they perform in leading, training, caring for, and motivating soldiers.

The development of officers is equally important. The Army develops soldiers in three ways. First, millions of dollars are

invested in professional soldiers through periodic formal training and education. Second, every Army unit is required to have an organic leader development program to help develop leaders. Third, all NCOs and officers help grow subordinate leaders through on-the-job coaching and mentoring. In the corporate world, these actions are referred to as succession planning. In the Army, succession planning is everyone’s job, every day.

Servant leaders inspire people to grow while discovering their skills and unique gifts. Servant leaders do all they can to facilitate that growth by putting their people in positions where they can flourish.

Lesson 4: Communicate Your Purpose and Intent I recently discussed servant leadership and the Army with Bob McDonald, a 1975 West Point graduate, Army veteran, former chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble, and most recently the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA). He shared with me his life’s purpose: to improve lives. Servant leaders use this purpose—a mission larger than self—to motivate and inspire their team. McDonald worked every day to improve the lives of others at P&G and at the VA. This lesson, which he learned as a youth growing up in the Boy Scouts, was reinforced when he served in the Army.

Leaders need to understand the purpose and intent of their boss. When they do, they can better capitalize on bringing their own knowledge, skills, and abilities to bear in making good decisions in their lives.

One of the key roles of a servant leader is to be visionary, which means to communicate with precision about what is expected in the future or end state. In the Army’s standard mission orders process, there is a specific place for what is called commander’s intent. This is where the commander describes what constitutes success for the operation, linking the purpose to how the operation is envisioned to go down. When done well, this intent facilitates a shared understanding of what is in the mind of the commander.

I remember writing these valuable intent statements. Once clear understanding is achieved, the higher-level commander then becomes the servant by doing everything possible to enable the success of the subordinate commanders to meet that intent. This explanation is a bit oversimplified but it illustrates servant leadership in action. This same process is used at all levels of the Army including (less formally) down to sergeants who lead small teams.

Lesson 5: Build Trusted Relationships Building trusted relationships trumps everything when it comes to effective leadership.

True leadership comes to life when mutual trust exists between leaders and followers. Genuine trust happens when soldiers train, sweat, bleed, and sacrifice together in preparation for the ultimate test of combat. They are honest with each other. They hold each other accountable. There is an element of love and support that develops as soldiers of all ranks live life together. This unique esprit de corps is the special sauce that really separates great teams from good teams.

When there is a lack of trust in a military unit, the consequences are significant, possibly catastrophic: decisions are questioned, commitment evaporates, discipline erodes, and the unit becomes ineffective. It does not take long to create an environment of distrust.

When soldiers know their leaders have their backs, they trust them and will do anything for them.

Nowhere is it more critical to demonstrate the empathy and care for soldiers than when tragedy strikes. I learned when something tragic happens to a soldier to go to them and to the home of their family. I didn’t need to worry about what to say; the family just needed to know that I cared. I visited many homes. I wrapped my arms around a lot of troops and families in need.

In the best units I served, I felt the love and support of those around me. I knew they would come to my aid if needed, just as I would them. The best leaders I have known have held trust as their highest priority.

Summary: Putting the Lessons into Action These five lessons are what I learned about how servant leadership contributes to a winning culture for the U.S. Army. Those who serve are volunteers and do so in support of a grateful nation. When the American people show their gratitude, it makes a difference because the soldiers know the people care about them.

To summarize how soldiers and their comrades in other services feel about serving in uniform, allow me to highlight a profound day in our recent military history. The date was July 4, 2008. The location was Camp Victory, the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. On that day, 1,215 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines raised their right hand and pledged to continue defending the land of the free in the largest reenlistment ceremony since the all-volunteer Army was established in July 1973.

Why did so many troops choose to remain in uniform—and to do so in the combat theater where so many had deployed and sacrificed over seven years of constant conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq? I believe the servant leadership environment created by soldiers of all ranks was a principal contributor. And when you sacrifice and suffer in defense of America, you learn to love it more.

Jeffrey W. Foley is president of Loral Mountain Solutions, Inc. (www.loralmountain.com), where he is a speaker and leadership consultant who coaches executives and helps them build high-performing organizations. He is coauthor of the book Rules and Tools for Leaders, now in its fourth edition. Jeff graduated from West Point and served thirty-two years in the U.S. Army, earning the rank of brigadier general. Throughout his military career he served in leadership positions around the world, always focused on the accomplishment of the mission and taking care of people.

Chapter 23 A Baptism of Leadership


Erwin McManus and I met when we were cohosts at a Lead Like Jesus simulcast. That was the beginning of my admiration for Erwin, not only as a preacher but also as a brother in servant leadership. What he has done with the creation of his Los Angeles-based church, Mosaic—a gathering place for broken people—is absolutely amazing. He felt if all of these people from different backgrounds and different walks of life could come together in a community of love, they could create a beautiful mosaic. Erwin’s essay is a candid and personal story about a servant leader’s struggle. —KB

IT WAS A rainy Sunday morning and a rare day for me because I was in a suit. To be honest, rainy is an understatement. It was a torrential downpour where the streets were quickly turning into rivers. I had just finished speaking at a little church in the inner-city area of Dallas, and the prospect of getting to my car without being drenched was unlikely.

I watched as people ran through the parking lot using whatever they could find to cover their perfectly groomed hair and Sunday best clothes. I stood in a hidden corner wanting to avoid involving myself, as some people had taken the bus to church and were trapped by the storm.

My precious wife, Kim, pulled me out of the shadows and informed me we had been asked to chauffeur a group of high school students to their homes. I was not happy about being recruited. I felt I had already done my part by bringing a message of hope. (I’m not sure, but I may have even talked about the power of serving.)

Shortly thereafter, as we were driving through the rainstorm in our yellow

Shortly thereafter, as we were driving through the rainstorm in our yellow Ford Pinto packed with teenagers, my wife suddenly yelled out, “Did you see that man?”

I said, “What man? I can’t even see the road!” The windshield wipers were losing their battle trying to clear a view for me to drive forward. The car felt more like a boat as we pushed our way through the waters, causing waves as we advanced.

Kim insisted I stop to help the man who was caught in the storm. I genuinely never saw him.

I didn’t want to see him. “We need to take these kids home first,” I said. “Then we’ll go back and help

the man if he’s still there.” It took only a few minutes to make the rounds and get the crew to their

homes. We were now fighting our way back to the street where Kim insisted the man had been standing. I looked and saw no one.

“There he is—you just passed him!” Kim shouted, as if I had done it on purpose.

Turning around in this storm would not be easy. I tried to convince her we should just go on home. She wouldn’t have it. So I managed to turn around—and then I saw him in front of me: a homeless man trying to reassemble his shopping cart as his possessions floated in the flooded street.

Kim said, “We need to help him.” Just so you know, my wife was about eight months pregnant with our first child at the time. I knew when she said we she did not mean herself and the baby. It was the royal we—which meant me, on her behalf.

Frustrated about having to take on a task I knew would be futile, I took off my suit jacket and jumped out of the car to help the man. While the rain poured down on us and the waters ran knee deep, I reassembled his broken cart and then helped him gather up his possessions—which to me looked like nothing more than garbage that was now soaking wet and worthless.

I will never forget the timing. The moment we were done, the rain suddenly stopped and the sun broke through. The sky was beautiful and clear.

The irony of this struck me as far too coincidental. Was this God’s way of making a point, or simply His sense of humor?

After I spoke with the man and he assured me there was no other way I could help him, I slowly walked back to our car. I was drenched. I got in, closed the door, and quietly began driving.

I didn’t even try to make eye contact with my sweet wife. I just wanted to make it home without having a conversation. But it was hard to ignore what was

make it home without having a conversation. But it was hard to ignore what was happening next to me in the silence. Kim was crying. So it was now dry outside and raining in the car.

I took a deep breath, thinking Great, now she’s crying. What did I do wrong? “Why are you crying?” I asked quietly, not really wanting to hear the answer. It took a moment for Kim to catch her breath and find the words—words I

will never forget. “That was the greatest sermon you have ever preached.” Those words changed my life. Frankly, I had always hoped my greatest message would be to an audience of

thousands, not to an audience of one. Now I know better. Our message is always given to an audience of one—the person we are serving. In serving others, our message is our lives. We must live our message for our message to have life. To me, that’s what servant leadership is all about.

The life of Jesus gave power to the words of Jesus. Jesus is the greatest leader the world has ever known because He is also the greatest servant the world has ever known. Servant leadership is a peculiar and even unexpected combination of words.

They would at first glance seem mutually exclusive. Pick one—but you can’t be both at the same time. Or so it would seem. It also implies that there are many different approaches to leadership from which we can choose. After all, history is resplendent with examples of leaders we should have never followed.

The truth is, while everyone can serve, not everyone is equally designed to lead. I know in our egalitarian culture we want to pretend everyone is the same. But everyone is not the same. We all have influence, but the radius of that influence varies from person to person.

Some struggle to have a vision for their lives while others struggle because they have a vision for the world. You can maximize the influence you have been entrusted with, but the material of leadership is a rare combination of talent, intelligence, skill, and other unpredictable intangibles. All of this, forged together through the choices you make and the person you choose to become, has merged to make you the leader you are today. And here is the fundamental part of the problem: the more gifted you are to lead, the greater the temptation to forgo the calling to serve.

Leadership is a product of gifting. Servanthood is about character. The combination is what we would describe as gravitas. While leadership is clearly developed and honed, it is just as clearly forged from material you were born with. Your character is a different story. Here the material emerges out of your

choices. You determine the depth of your capacity to serve. Servanthood is completely independent of talent. While your talent may have

a ceiling, your character does not. You can serve to your heart’s content. And that is exactly the point—servanthood is a matter of the heart.

Leadership is the ability to move others in a common direction to accomplish a common mission. It is not limited or defined by why or where we are leading those who are following.

Servant leadership is about the why. It is about motive. Servant leadership isn’t a strategy or an approach toward leadership. Servant leadership is the intention and the essence of our leadership. This is why it is so important to know how to serve before you learn how to lead.

Serving and leading change you. If you become a leader before you become a servant, you will use your talent to move people to fulfill your agenda regardless of their well-being. You will see and treat people as cogs in your wheel to move and use as you deem necessary.

If you become a servant before you become a leader, you will see your talent as a gift to be used for the good of others. You will see yourself as a servant to a higher calling; a more noble mission; a purpose greater than yourself.

The power of the servant leader does not come from their position but from their sacrifice. They are followed not because they are feared but because they are admired. Their gravitas is not based on their title or rank or status, but on their blood and sweat and tears. They have earned the right to lead because they have set the standard for what it means to serve. They choose to serve. They were chosen to lead.

This is the paradox of Jesus. Jesus rewrites the script of what it means to lead. He never asks more of His followers than He has given himself. He sets the standard: to lead is to serve. And only those who serve will ever be entrusted with leadership.

The way of Jesus is to serve. It is not a methodology or strategy. It is who God is. God is a servant. It is His essence.

That’s why, when Jesus knew that all power and authority had been given Him, the first thing He did was tie a towel around His waist and wash His disciples’ feet. This is what God does with His power. This is why God is both all powerful and all good. Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, it reveals absolutely. With all the power in the universe, God still chooses the path of servanthood.

We tend to want God’s power but not His character. Yet only when we embrace His character are we trustworthy with His power. Servant leadership understands that our calling is not to overpower but to empower.

understands that our calling is not to overpower but to empower. Leadership is a privilege that should only be entrusted to those whose hands

are callused and character is marked by the virtue of becoming a servant. He who serves greatly will lead greatly. And in the end, if you want to be great in God’s kingdom, then become the servant of all.

Who we are in the rain, and the choices we make to serve when no one is watching, are all we will have to give to the world when we have our moment in the sun. The greatest leaders when the sun is shining are the greatest servants in the rain.

On the same day I was determined to stay dry, I found myself drenched. I didn’t know it then but that day was my most profound baptism. It was my baptism of leadership.

The baptism of leadership is servanthood.

Erwin Raphael McManus is an iconoclast known for his integration of creativity and spirituality. He is the lead pastor and founder of Mosaic, a church located in the heart of Los Angeles. He is the author of The Last Arrow, The Barbarian Way, The Artisan Soul, and several other books on spirituality and creativity.

Chapter 24 Little Things and Big Things


When Jon Gordon and I first met, I found out he was a fellow Cornellian. Then I heard him speak and I quickly realized we were more than Cornell brothers—we were kindred hearts. I think you’ll feel the same way after you read his wonderful essay. Neither Jon nor I can think of a more important leadership role than being a parent, which Jon will demonstrate in this essay. What a blessing it is if you had a giving parent or two in your life who set the example for servant leadership. —KB

WHEN I THINK of servant leadership, two images come to mind: Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, and my mom making me a sandwich.

It is written:

So He (Jesus) got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His apron. (John 13:4-5, MSG) After He had finished washing their feet, He took His robe, put it back on, and went back to His place at the table. Then He said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do.” (John 13:12-15, MSG) Jesus felt that no matter what your position is, your role is to serve. That was exactly my mother’s philosophy. Even though she was my mother and I admired her, she was always serving me. She didn’t have a self-serving bone in her body. Ten years ago, I was taking a walk with my mom near her home in south

Ten years ago, I was taking a walk with my mom near her home in south Florida when I noticed she was getting tired. My mom and I always walked together. She was a fit walking machine who never got tired, so I knew something was wrong.

“Let’s go back to the condo so you can rest,” I said. “No, I want to walk to the store so I can get some food to make you a

sandwich for your drive home,” she said. I was headed back to my home in Ponte Vedra Beach, and my mom thought I might starve to death without eating during the five-hour drive.

“Okay,” I said, knowing she had her mind set. Growing up in a Jewish-Italian family, the one thing you didn’t do was argue with Mom about food. To her, food and love were one and the same.

We continued walking and made it to the supermarket. As we walked back, I could tell she was getting more and more tired. When we arrived back at her condo, she was exhausted—yet the first thing she did was walk into the kitchen and make me a sandwich.

On my drive home, I ate her sandwich but didn’t think much about it at the time. Now, ten years later, I think about that sandwich a lot because it was the last time I saw my mom alive.

My mom was battling cancer, which was why she was so tired. She didn’t tell me how bad it really was, nor had she mentioned how bleak the odds were for her survival. She was fighting for her life—yet, on that day, her biggest priority was to make me a sandwich.

Looking back, I realize she wasn’t just making me a sandwich. She was showing me what selfless love and servant leadership were all about.

At her funeral, many of her real estate clients and colleagues came up to me and shared countless stories of all the selfless acts of love my mom did for them as well. Turns out she served her work team and her clients the same way she served her family.

We often think that great leadership is about big visions, big goals, big actions, and big success. But I learned from my mom that real leadership is about serving others by doing the little things with a big dose of selfless love.

Making a sandwich and washing feet may not seem like exciting acts of greatness, and yet they are the very actions that move others to do great things and change the world.

When I think about Jesus and my mom, I think about what I can do to serve others. When I’m not on the road speaking, I’m devoted to helping my teenage children be the best they can be. I help my wife around the house and have even

become skilled at doing laundry. My company’s mission is to inspire and empower as many people as possible,

one person at a time. One person at a time means we will never be too busy to help one person in need. That’s why I personally respond to anyone who emails me seeking advice after reading one of my books. I figure if Jesus can take the time to wash the feet of His disciples and my mom can make me a sandwich while battling cancer, I can surely find time to help someone who needs encouragement.

Serving others may not always fit our schedule, but it fits God’s plan for our lives. God doesn’t pick the best; God picks the most willing. If we are willing to serve in small ways, we’ll change the world in big ways. It all starts with washing feet, making a sandwich, and other small acts of selfless love and servant leadership.

Jon Gordon is the author of numerous books including The Energy Bus, The No Complaining Rule, Training Camp, The Carpenter, and most recently, The Power of Positive Leadership. Jon is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a master’s degree in teaching from Emory University. He is founder of The Jon Gordon Companies (www.jongordon.com) where he lives his passion for developing positive leaders, organizations, and teams.

Chapter 25 In Praise of Followership


Margie and I have been married more than fifty-five years. She is my mentor, my first love, and an unbelievable servant leader. We started our company together and I was smart enough to agree that she should be president. Nearly twenty years ago she stepped down from the presidency to create and lead a think tank we call Office of the Future, whose purpose is to ensure we are not surprised by new innovations or technology that come along. I think you’ll find her essay on followership unique, considering this is a book about leadership—but it’s so applicable in today’s workplace. —KB

DID YOU EVER think about the difference between the words leader and leadership? The leader is just one person, whereas leadership assumes both the person and their followers. In our world, we focus a lot of attention on the leader. That’s who we want to be when we grow up. But the follower is the one who often does all the work. In fact, we spend much more of our time as followers in this world of work than as leaders—an estimated 90 percent of our time. If that’s true, followership may be more important than leadership— particularly if the follower is a servant leader.

“A follower as a servant leader?” you might respond. “Yes,” I would insist. A lot of managers we know would respond in the same skeptical way. In that regard, Ken and I teach a servant leadership course as part of a Master’s of Science in Executive Leadership (MSEL) program we cofounded with the dean of the College of Business at the University of San Diego.

Prior to our weekend class, we ask the students to read Insights on

Leadership, a book of essays on service, stewardship, spirit, and servant leadership edited by Larry C. Spears.1 (Larry is the author of “Characteristics of Servant Leaders” in Part 1 of this book.) At the beginning of class, we divide the students into small groups and ask them to share with each other what they learned from the readings and what it means to them. We have them focus on five of the essays that we preassigned. Year after year, the essay that catches the students’ attention the most is “Followership in a Leadership World” by Robert E. Kelley. Why? People don’t think a follower can be an effective servant leader. Kelley suggests followership is often overlooked because most recognition and rewards go to leaders.

Kelley helped me think of all the times as a leader that I have been grateful for followers who do two things. One, they challenge my ideas and implementation style and help me get clarity on what I really want to happen and how to best execute it. Two, when I have a good idea, they are ready to help me implement it by beginning to problem solve some of the challenges my idea or initiative would likely face. The first involves managing up the hierarchy as a servant follower. The second is all about serving as a direct report.

Serving Up the Hierarchy One of the most common questions we’re asked is “What do you do when you believe in servant leadership and want to implement it with your people, but the top manager has a command-and-control (hierarchical leaderdominated) philosophy?”

Our response is “You can comply, complain, confront, dust off your résumé, or become an effective follower.”

The most common methods people use for dealing with a command-and- control leader are to comply—adapt to the flawed philosophy of top management —or complain—spend more time moaning and groaning to anyone who will listen than they spend doing their job. A few people will dust off their résumé and begin looking for a position elsewhere. Even fewer will confront the top manager—which, unfortunately, is not usually very effective. Why? Because they confront before they connect. In other words, they don’t have a relationship with the boss before they deliver their feedback.

When attempting to influence up the hierarchy, it’s important to remember that you have no position power; only personal power, at best. And when you give someone feedback with whom you have no real connection—I don’t care how gently you give it—you will not build up your relationship.

I’ll never forget years ago, when Ken was teaching an occasional course at a

business school and a new dean arrived. The dean had written a lot about participative management—an early form of servant leadership. However, he didn’t practice it. He was wheeling and dealing and making all kinds of top- down decisions without any participation from the faculty. Some of the faculty leaders individually decided to confront him about his inconsistent behavior— and yet none of them had ever really connected with this man prior to confronting him. He essentially threw each of them out of his office in turn.

Ken, who agreed with the direction the dean wanted to take the school but was concerned about his decision-making style, realized he had to develop a relationship with the dean before he could give him any feedback. Ken and I believe that building a relationship with someone is like having money in the bank. No matter how well it is done, giving someone feedback draws something from your interpersonal bank account with that person. As a result, you better have some good experiences in your account to draw from. Otherwise, using our banking analogy, you will need a mask and a gun—position power! Ken decided that since he didn’t have any position power with the dean, he had better build up his interpersonal bank account before talking with him about the negative impact his style was having.

So, one day when he saw the dean in the hallway, Ken commented specifically on how much he admired the dean’s writing skills. He said, “I’m working on a paper I hope to get published in a good journal. With your writing experience, would you have time to meet with me? I’d like to share my latest draft with you and get your feedback.” The dean responded immediately: “I’d love to meet with you.” When they met, the dean had all kinds of helpful feedback. At the end of a follow-up meeting the dean casually said, “Ken, how do you think we should deal with some of the jerks in this school?” The key word for Ken was “we.” He knew he now had some money in his interpersonal bank account with the dean—personal power. So he felt free to talk to the dean about how a change in his decision-making style might help and knew the dean would listen without getting defensive. In retrospect, that’s what a helpful, effective servant leader as a follower would do: put the good of the organization ahead of any ego needs.

Serving as a Direct Report Now let’s look at the role an effective servant follower plays in helping leaders implement their good ideas. It’s all about going somewhere—and it takes both the leader and the follower. My brother, Tom McKee, who is our company’s chairman and CEO, once told me he evaluated people by the number of things

they helped him move forward or even took completely off his plate! Sometimes I think it boils down to a leader creating a vision, destination, or initiative, and a follower understanding that vision and helping it come alive.

I remember a time when I was president of our company and got the idea that our leaders and managers needed to meet one on one with each of their direct reports for at least thirty minutes every other week. While the managers would be responsible for scheduling the meeting, what was different about these meetings was that their direct reports would set the agenda—talk about whatever was on their mind. It could involve having a sick child at home that required them to spend less time in the office, or a particular goal they were working on and needed some support and direction. This was an idea I had heard about from a very successful owner of three fast food restaurants who had the lowest turnover rate by far of any of the other restaurants in the chain. He credited his one-on-one meetings as a major factor in those results. When you think about it, why would a young person go down the street for a small increase in salary when they had an adult who really cared and was interested in them?

So here I was with my new idea for our company. I needed some believers that this initiative could take hold in our organization and that it would make a positive difference in a number of ways. I found a servant follower and we brainstormed and plotted and rounded up a few more followers to experiment with this new practice. As with any change, it was not easy or quick. Even though there were early successes, there were more excuses than there were meetings happening. And yet I continued on, creating various incentives and watching more managers catch on and become converts until one-on-one meetings were finally baked into our culture.

This never would have happened without the role of the followers. They were the ones who had to do something new. We need both servant leaders and servant followers to execute any change.

It goes without saying that leaders’ ideas should be good ones—worth the time and effort both they and their followers are going to invest in making something new happen. Followers need to see a line of sight between a leader’s ideas and some greater good for the organization and the people in it. In my example of one-on-one meetings, we were aiming for less isolation and more connection in the manager/direct report relationship.

I often hear that the world is in desperate need of great leaders—and I agree we are—but I also believe we need what Robert E. Kelley calls exemplary followers.2 These independent critical thinkers are actively involved in serving the organization and making it as good as it can possibly be—an organization

that achieves great relationships and great results. As an exemplary follower, each of us is tasked with listening more deeply to new ideas and being open to the possibility of being influenced. Exemplary followers look for the highest value of an idea and help their leaders sharpen their thinking. They look beyond the temporary awkwardness, inconvenience, and discomfort that comes with all change and they are willing to see new and needed resources that may be already in place—like other enthusiastic people willing to try something new. They need to resist the pull and comfort of not changing. When we hear statistics such as 80 percent of change efforts fail, we need to realize that both leaders and followers have the responsibility to not let that continue to happen.

Followers Get the Job Done In research for The Ken Blanchard Companies done by our son, Scott, and colleagues Drea Zigarmi and Vicky Essary on the Leadership-Profit Chain,3 they found that an estimated 85 percent of the execution of a vision or change initiative happens through followers. Followers create and refine product and service offerings; they market, sell, and fulfill these offerings; and they play key roles in solving problems. Today, job seekers are drawn toward organizations with followership opportunities that focus on developing people and encouraging their career growth. They are attracted to cultures that give them followership challenges that help them connect their day-to-day activities with a higher purpose: the mission, vision, and values of the organization.

When I was president of our firm, I used to evaluate my day or month on whether I was able to spend at least 50 percent of my time on opportunities and the future, or whether that 50 percent got eaten up by day-to-day concerns and problems that others should handle. For leaders and managers, in most cases—as we have emphasized—the work gets done by servant followers. Most jobs, even the role of president, have a followership component. In fact, the real key to promotion up the hierarchy might be effective followership.

When I talk about effective serving followers, I am not talking about people who are submissive, towing the line, taking orders without question, or playing inside the box of their job description. I’m talking about people who are committed to a higher cause than their personal gain. They are competent and credible people who constantly are looking for ways to grow. They are curious and they set high standards for themselves and others.

How does someone become an exemplary follower in Kelley’s terms? He contends that “the best followers know how to lead themselves.” We’ve felt that way for a long time. That’s why Ken, Susan Fowler, and Laurie Hawkins

developed a self-leadership program for our company that teaches people how to develop the mindset and skill set for getting what they need to succeed. When we say succeed, we mean not only personal success but also organizational success. Our belief is that leadership is not something you do to people—it’s something you do with people. This encourages side-by-side leadership, not the old top-down leadership. Servant leaders today realize that they can’t get much done without effective followers.

I have great respect for followers. I am one in 90 percent of my life. In the other 10 percent—when I attempt to lead—I am blessed by exemplary followers, and so is our organization.

Margie Blanchard is cofounder of The Ken Blanchard Companies (www.kenblanchard.com). A compelling speaker, author, entrepreneur, consultant, and trainer, Margie is a corecipient with her husband, Ken, of the Entrepreneur of the Year award from Cornell University. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cornell and her doctorate from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is coauthor of three books: The One Minute Manager Balances Work and Life, Leading at a Higher Level, and Working Well: Managing for Health and High Performance.

Notes 1. Larry C. Spears, Insights on Leadership: Service, Stewardship, Spirit, and

Servant-Leadership (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1997). 2. Robert E. Kelley, “In Praise of Followers,” Harvard Business Review

(November 1988). 3. Scott Blanchard, Drea Zigarmi, and Vicky Essary, “The Leadership-Profit

Chain,” Perspectives (Escondido, CA: The Ken Blanchard Companies, 2006).

Part Four Exemplars of Servant Leadership

People Who Have Been Identified as Classic Servant Leaders

• Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, in “Jesus: The Greatest Example of a Servant Leader,” provide a worthy illustration of how the important thing about being an effective servant leader is not what happens when you’re there —it’s what happens when you’re not there.

• John Hope Bryant, in “Andrew Young: Partner in Servant Leadership to Martin Luther King Jr.,” relates how the relationship between King and Young remains an almost perfect example of a servant leadership partnership between two great men.

• In her essay “Pat Summitt: Steely Eyes, Servant Heart,” Tamika Catchings captures how Coach Summit, while a fierce competitor, made sure her players always came first. She was a servant leader who focused on both results and people.

• Tony Baron, in “Dallas Willard: The Smartest Man I Ever Met,” describes how his mentor inspired greatness with his servant heart as he humbly taught and encouraged people he met on his journey.

• In “Henry Blackaby: A Lifelong Servant Leader,” Richard Blackaby shares how his father, Henry, the great pastor and writer, has always modeled that we do not lead organizations—we lead people. And when we impact people as a servant leader, we change the world.

• Jim Dittmar, in “Frances Hesselbein: To Serve Is to Live,” describes an exemplary servant leader who, with grace and humility, through organizations such as Girl Scouts of the USA and the Drucker Foundation, has made a positive impact on thousands of lives.

• In his essay “Charlie ‘Tremendous’ Jones: A Sermon Seen,” Mark Sanborn illustrates how “Tremendous” lived out the philosophy that the best servant

leaders don’t just tell us how to lead, they show us.

Chapter 26 Jesus

The Greatest Example of a Servant Leader


I’m a latecomer to the Lord. As a result, it wasn’t until my early fifties that I started to really read the Bible and learn about Jesus. In the process, I realized He is the greatest leadership role model of all time. When I shared this insight with my colleague and friend Phil Hodges, who had been a spiritual guide of mine, he agreed—and together we cofounded the Lead Like Jesus ministry. In this essay we will focus on Jesus as the ultimate servant leader. —KB

INITIAL INDICATION THAT Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time came to Ken when he was asked to be on Reverend Robert Schuller’s TV show Hour of Power after The One Minute Manager1 was released in the early 1980s.

As Ken remembers it, Dr. Schuller said, “I love The One Minute Manager. Why? Because I believe Jesus was the greatest One Minute Manager of all time.”

“Really?” Ken said with a smile, never having thought of Jesus as a manager. “Absolutely,” said Dr. Schuller. “After all, he was very clear on goals with

his disciples. Isn’t that your first secret—One Minute Goal Setting?” Ken said, “Yes.” Then Dr. Schuller smiled and said, “And you and Tom Peters didn’t invent

‘management by wandering around’—Jesus did. He wandered from one village

to another. If He caught someone doing something right, He would heal them or praise them. Isn’t One Minute Praising your second secret?” “Yes,” Ken repeated.

To finish his analogy, Dr. Schuller said, “And when people stepped out of line, Jesus wasn’t afraid to give them a reprimand and redirect their efforts— after all, He threw the money lenders out of the temple. Isn’t the One Minute Reprimand your third secret?”

Ken laughed and nodded, realizing he had a point. What Dr. Schuller said about Jesus as a One Minute Manager got Ken

thinking. So a number of years later, as Ken began to deepen in his faith, he started to read the Bible. As a behavioral scientist, he went straight to the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and the book of Acts because he wanted to know what Jesus did and how it impacted His followers. Ken quickly realized that everything he had ever taught or written about leadership, Jesus did —and He did it perfectly with twelve inexperienced people. He transformed his disciples into the first generation of leaders of a movement that continues to affect the course of world history more than 2,000 years later.

At this point, this is no longer just Ken’s story. Why? Because when he shared his realization about what an incredible leader Jesus was with Phil, who had become an important spiritual guide, Lead Like Jesus2 was born. The purpose of the ministry is to glorify God by inspiring and equipping people to lead like Jesus. That involves following His mandate to be servant leaders and to love others as He loves us. The goal of Lead Like Jesus is “Someday, everyone, everywhere, will be impacted by someone leading like Jesus.”

When we (Ken and Phil) tell people that the greatest leadership role model of all time is Jesus, we get a lot of raised eyebrows. People want to ask what evidence we have—and we’re glad when they do. A few years ago at a Lead Like Jesus live teleconference broadcast from Atlanta, Ken asked his cohost, the well-known pastor and author John Ortberg, “Why would you travel all the way across the country from your home church in Menlo Park, California, to teach people that Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time?”

A gifted storyteller, Ortberg smiled and said, “Suppose you were a gambler 2,000 years ago. Now I know some of you don’t like gambling, but bear with me for a moment. Which of these would you have put your money on lasting: the Roman Empire with the Roman Army, or a little Jewish carpenter with twelve inexperienced followers?” Everyone in the audience smiled as John went on to say, “Isn’t it interesting that all these years later, we still name kids Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and we name our dogs Nero and Caesar? I rest my case.”

While John got a big laugh, his point was well taken. Clearly, Jesus’s

While John got a big laugh, his point was well taken. Clearly, Jesus’s leadership was effective. His church exists today—and the Roman Empire doesn’t.

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, you’ll have to admit that Jesus of Nazareth was a model leader. In fact, He’s the only religious leader we know who built a management team. He went out and gathered together inexperienced people when He could have recruited good preachers. None of the disciples He chose had the kind of background you would have expected Jesus to need. And yet, He built them into quite a team. For a long time, we have been saying that the important thing about being a leader is not what happens when you’re there, it’s what happens when you’re not there. As a parent or business leader, you can usually get your kids or your work group to do what you want when you are there. The real test is what they do on their own when you’re not there. After Jesus was physically gone, His disciples carried on quite successfully and made a difference in the world. How did He make that happen? He was a classic servant leader.

The first time Jesus defined greatness as service, not the way the world does, is found in Matthew 20. John and James’s mother had gone to Jesus and essentially asked if, in heaven, one of her sons could sit at His left hand and the other one at His right hand. She obviously thought leadership was all about the hierarchy. After Jesus told her that her request was not for Him to grant, He approached the other ten disciples, who were miffed because this mother had asked for those places of honor before they did.

Jesus called (His disciples) 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.” (Matt. 20:25-28)

We added the emphasis on “Not so with you” in that verse. Why? Because Jesus’s call to servant leadership is clear and unequivocal. His words leave no room for Plan B. He placed no restrictions or limitations of time, place, or situation that would allow us to exempt ourselves from heeding His command. For followers of Jesus, servant leadership is not an option; servant leadership is a mandate.

Jesus wanted His disciples to get this important message: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). And yet,

while Jesus wanted His disciples to be servants of all, did He send them out to serve without a clear vision and direction? Absolutely not. He did not forget the leadership aspect of servant leadership.

Jesus established a compelling vision for His disciples.3 First of all, He was clear about what business He and His disciples were in. He called them not just to become fishermen, but to a greater purpose—to become “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19, NKJV). He established a picture of the future for His disciples when He charged them to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Finally, Jesus identified the values He wanted to guide their journey, focusing first on loving God and then on loving their neighbors as themselves (Matt. 22:36-40).

Once His disciples had a compelling vision—they were clear on their purpose, where they were going, and what would guide their journey—Jesus shifted his role to the implementation aspect of servant leadership. This involved serving the vision by strategically turning the traditional organizational pyramid upside down. Now His focus was on inspiring and equipping His disciples to go out and support, encourage, coach, and facilitate other people hearing and committing to the good news.

Jesus symbolically told his disciples about this shift when He washed their feet at the last supper.

You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:13—17)

Patience is a core skill for servant leaders. Jesus had to be patient with His disciples as they moved from dependence to independence in their journey to become servant leaders. If servant leadership were easy, you’d think the greatest model would have had instant success with it. What is needed is patience, endurance, and consistent focus. We’ve said for a long time that implementing change comes more from managing the journey than announcing the destination.

In that light, it’s interesting to note that when Jesus sent the twelve disciples out for the first time to spread the word, He gave them extensive basic instruction on where to go, what to say, what to do, and how to do it (Matt. 10:5 —13). In other words, Jesus did not move to the implementation aspect of servant leadership, symbolized in His washing of the disciples’ feet, until the

vision and direction aspect of servant leadership was clear. It was not until the end of His ministry on earth just prior to His resurrection that Jesus felt He could delegate His role of servant leader to His disciples with the Great Commission.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18—20)

We began to wonder what prepared Jesus to become the greatest example of a servant leader and to prepare His disciples to be the same. After all, there’s not much information in the Bible about Jesus from the age of twelve until He began His ministry in His early thirties. In fact, only two comments appear in the Bible that were made about Jesus during this time: “Isn’t He the carpenter’s son?” and “Isn’t He the carpenter?” We do know He was a carpenter and that He undoubtedly learned the trade from His earthly father, Joseph. Recognizing those facts, we wondered in what ways working as a carpenter helped prepare Jesus to become a leader. We sought similarities between the work of a good carpenter and the work of a good servant leader—similarities we could learn from and apply to our own leadership. Here is a portion of what we discovered.

First of all, good carpenters see the finished product before they start a job. Similarly, good leaders have a vision of where they want to go before they start leading people. Second, good carpenters know how to work with various types of materials just as good leaders know how to work with various types of people. Third, good carpenters know how to use a variety of tools when dealing with different materials in developing a good finished product just as good leaders know how to use a variety of leadership styles when dealing with different people to help them become high performers.

How did Jesus’s leadership of His disciples line up with these insights from carpentry and leadership? First, as indicated, Jesus did indeed develop a compelling vision for His disciples that motivated them after His physical time on earth ended.

Second, Jesus saw beyond current credentials to the long-range potential of those He called to become fishers of men. Getting to know His people and their strengths, weaknesses, and individual personalities was a key element of His leadership. As Jesus learned about His followers, they learned about and from Him.

Third, when Jesus first called the disciples from their ordinary occupations to

Third, when Jesus first called the disciples from their ordinary occupations to become fishers of men, each brought his unique life experiences and skills to the new task—but absolutely no practical knowledge of how to fill the new role. During their three years under Jesus’s leadership, the disciples were transformed from untrained novices to fully equipped, divinely inspired and spiritually grounded leaders able to fulfill the Great Commission. How did Jesus learn to do that?

We believe the experiences Jesus had learning the trade of carpentry provided Him with a practical model for helping people grow and develop. He used this model to guide the learning experience of His disciples and move them from call to commission. Why do we say that? In learning to be a carpenter—and in many other trades—people must move through four normal stages of learning: from novice, to apprentice, to journeyman, and, finally, to master teacher. To enable that kind of transformation, trainers or leaders would need to change their leadership style from directing—which is appropriate for learners at the novice stage (someone just starting out); to coaching—for an apprentice (someone in training); to supporting—for a journeyman (someone capable of working independently but lacking the confidence to teach others); to delegating—for a master teacher (someone highly skilled who has the competence and confidence to teach others).

This approach is very similar to the Situational Leadership® II model4 that Ken referred to in his opening essay, “What Is Servant Leadership?” Both approaches suggest that effective leaders need to adapt their leadership style (amount of direction and support provided) depending on the development level (competence and commitment) of the person they are leading.

As we reflected on how Jesus helped His disciples journey from dependence to independence in becoming fishers of men, we noticed He moved over time from a directing leadership style when they were novices to a delegating leadership style when He felt they were ready to be master teachers. As we stated earlier, when Jesus sent his disciples out for the first time to spread the news, he used a very directive leadership style. He gradually changed His leadership style from directing to coaching to supporting. Finally, in Matthew 28:19, Jesus used a delegating style as He told His followers: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” without any further direction.

That, to us, is what servant leadership is all about: providing clear vision and direction, then rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever it takes to help your people be successful—live according to the vision and accomplish the established goals. In this situation, your people don’t work for you, you work for

them. As Jesus said to His disciples, “. . . whoever wants to become great among

you must be your servant . . . just as [I] did not come to be served but to serve” (Matt. 20:26, 28).

In this essay we’ve been talking about Jesus as the greatest example of servant leadership. But as we continue to pursue and learn about Him, we remain amazed but not surprised that He is so much more than a leader who served. In fact, we can’t think of any attribute of leadership—whether it be serving others, casting a vision, building a team, motivating followers, or implementing change —that Jesus did not model for everyone as He trained His disciples.

Phil Hodges worked in management for Xerox Corporation and U.S. Steel for thirty-six years. In 1997 he became a consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies and in 1999 he founded Lead Like Jesus with Ken Blanchard. Phil is coauthor of five books including Lead Like Jesus Revisited, Lead Like Jesus for Churches, and The Servant Leader.

Notes 1. Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager (New

York: William Morrow, 1982, 2003). See also their The New One Minute Manager (New York: William Morrow, 2015).

2. Lead Like Jesus (www.leadlikejesus.com) is a ministry founded in 1999 by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. It focuses on heart-centered, transformative leadership that equips leaders to effectively impact their own spheres of influence. See also Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005) and their Lead Like Jesus Revisited (Nashville: W Publishing, 2016).

3. For more on how to develop a compelling vision, see Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner, Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Company and Your Life (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2003, 2011).

4. For more on SLII see Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi, and Drea Zigarmi, Leadership and the One Minute Manager (New York: William Morrow, 1985, 2013).

Chapter 27 Andrew Young

Partner in Servant Leadership to Martin Luther King Jr.


John Hope Bryant is truly a world changer. I’m looking forward to our first face-to-face meeting. I’m thrilled with his description of the servant leadership partnership between Andrew Young and Dr. King. I know you’ll feel the same way. —KB

“IT WAS NOT about me.” Andrew Young has said these words to me more times than I can remember.

Parts of his story of selfless service are really being told for the first time here, on these pages.

The traditional narrative of our shared civil rights movement history of the 1960s—a period that helped to define the nation and the world we live in today —suggests that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led and affirmed the transformational changes of the twentieth century almost singlehandedly. In fact, this is not what happened. Like most great leaders in history, Dr. King had help. And in this man, Dr. King actually had a partner—some might call him a silent partner. He is Andrew Young.1

In 1972, Young was the first African American elected to the U.S. Congress from the South since Reconstruction. In 1977, he became the first African American U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter. And in the 1980s, Young served as the transformational mayor of Atlanta for two terms. He is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French

Foreign Legion Award and holds more than 130 honorary doctorate degrees. But in the 1960s Andrew Young was a servant leader who helped increase the effectiveness and impact of a prophet of our times—one Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Anyone wanting clear and compelling evidence of this special and unique relationship in history need go no further than the photographs of the movement. A simple image search of these two names together—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young—will result in an amazing, compelling, and awe-inspiring consistency: Young is never actually looking at the camera. Nor is he looking at Dr. King. He is assessing the situation, surveying the ever-changing environmental landscape for threats against his friend, Dr. King. Most notably, he is constantly diminishing himself—his own presence—and in so doing is increasing that of his friend, Dr. King.

Andrew Young was the one who calmed the radical and often revolutionary nerves within the halls of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the offices of civil rights movement staff. He was the one who knocked heads with those on both the far left and far right around strategy within the civil rights movement, which enabled him to bring a balanced set of decisions for Dr. King (who disliked conflict) to choose from. Finally, Young was the one who negotiated with the business community behind closed doors after the marching was over.

It is this last role I choose to focus on in this essay: the role of the quiet cocaptain. Young was not an aide or a key supporter. He was the chief strategist and right hand of Dr. King during the most critical stages of the movement’s success. Not only did he not seek credit or praise for himself back then, he has continued to shy away from that spotlight ever since. You see, Young never wanted to be Dr. King, nor did he want to share in Dr. King’s much deserved success and acclaim. He only wanted to help him. Andrew Young was and is the very essence of a servant leader.

During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dr. King learned the power of the purse when he asked black riders to not board a bus unless they were allowed to sit in the front of the bus like everyone else. He suggested simply, “We shall not finance our own oppression.” The riders stood down, creating their own makeshift taxi service for African American patrons going to and from work. This simple act of quiet defiance nearly bankrupted Montgomery’s public transit system. Little did Dr. King or anyone else realize at the time that the African American community represented the majority consumer economy in many of those small cities in the American South. And when they stopped spending, it meant something.

meant something. Later on, Dr. King would combine this learning with a media-savvy strategy.

King never marched after 2:00 p.m. as he knew reporters from the major networks needed time to get their canisters of film on a plane to New York City in time for the 5:00, 6:00, and 11:00 nightly news. After each day’s successful march, Dr. King would ask Young (whom he called Andy) to trade his blue jean overalls for a business suit and go quietly to meet with the business leaders from each small town. It was always done carefully, behind closed doors.

In each of these small towns, following successful marches that dampened the downtown economy, Young would meet with one hundred business leaders. The premise was simple: if he could get one hundred prominent business leaders in a town to agree to any accommodation of social policy within their shops, stores and businesses, the mayor and local government would follow suit. And that is precisely what happened. Business leaders, impacted by a dampening of sales revenues and other challenges, were the first movers in every town in the American South. They would agree to take down the “Whites Only” signs atop water fountains, on dressing rooms, at soda fountain counters, and in the waiting rooms and seating cabins of private bus lines. Young never spoke of his successful negotiations in those back rooms for fear that it would draw attention toward himself and away from his leader, Dr. King.

It was not the local or state government that first integrated the American South, it was the business community. And this was achieved through a unique collaboration between two servant leaders and soldiers for good: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Andrew Young.

The philosophy for negotiating with the business community—in this case, part of the oppressor class—was simple: “Talk without being offensive. Listen without being defensive. And always, always leave even your adversary with their dignity. Because if you don’t, they will spend the rest of their lives working to make you miserable.” Those are the words of my friend and mentor, Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray. But they just as easily could have been written by Dr. King.

Dr. King believed oppressors needed to be left with their dignity and—more so—a dignified way out of their own predicament. King also believed that a minority group, having no military, bombs, bullets, or any real structural power to fight back with, needed as a matter of strategy to claim the higher moral ground in every situation, rallying the hearts and minds of a nation behind their noble calling. In this cause, Andrew Young became Dr. King’s constant secret weapon. No wonder Young later became Ambassador Andrew Young. He was a global negotiator for good among all people.

In small town after small town, Dr. King would set it up and Andrew Young would help to pay it off as a matter of their shared strategy. Afterward, Young would hand any public success back to his friend and movement leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Their relationship remains an almost perfect example of a servant leadership partnership between two great men. It is also a mostly unrecognized strategy that brought about change to make the world we know today.

John Hope Bryant (www.johnhopebryant.com) is an American entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, and prominent thought leader on financial inclusion, economic empowerment, and financial dignity. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Operation HOPE, Inc.; chairman and chief executive officer of Bryant Group Ventures, and cofounder of Global Dignity. Bryant is the author of How the Poor Can Save Capitalism, Love Leadership, and his latest, The Memo: Five Rules for Your Economic Liberation.

Note 1. To learn more about Andrew Young’s work with Dr. Martin Luther King

Jr., see Young’s An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America (New York: HarperCollins, 1996).

Chapter 28 Pat Summitt

Steely Eyes, Servant Heart


I have never met Tamika Catchings but I followed her when she played for Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee. Pat and I were speakers on a number of programs together and we came to admire each other’s servant leadership philosophies. Some think servant leadership is soft management, but as Tamika will share with you, that doesn’t describe the way Pat Summitt served and motivated her players. She was a fierce competitor but her players always came first. When she passed away, the world lost a great person and a great coach—but Pat Summitt’s legacy as a great servant leadership role model lives on through people who learned from her and loved her—people like Tamika. — KB

WHEN I THINK of servant leadership, I think of Pat Summitt.1 Pat was my basketball coach at the University of Tennessee (UT) from 1997 to 2001. And I know I am speaking for all of the 161 young women who were fortunate enough to play for her when I say that Pat was much more than our coach. She was our friend. She was our mentor. She was our mother. She was our inspiration. And she was a true servant leader.

Pat passed away on June 28, 2016, but she will be a part of me forever. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel her impact on my life.

Pat’s professional record is legendary. During her 38 years at UT, she coached the “Lady Vols” to 112 victories in NCAA tournament games, 18 NCAA Final Fours, and 8 National Championships. Her 1,098 total wins still hold the record for the most wins of any Division 1 college basketball coach— male or female. She received numerous awards including Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom—and let’s not forget her two Olympic gold medals.

Pat’s accomplishments on the court are what we hear about a lot, but she was so much more. Basketball sidelines around our country are filled with coaches at all levels who can point directly to Pat’s influence as the reason they are where they are today. She put herself out there every day for her players, her fans, and just about anyone who was willing to look beyond those steely blue eyes to get a few moments with her. It was never a big deal for her to serve others. I don’t think she saw it as a big thing to come in early, stay late, or to do any of the extra stuff she did—it just got done. Her players would never think Wow, I can’t believe she just did that. Pat was our superwoman. We just knew where there’s a will, there’s a way and she was going to get it done, whatever it was.

I grew up in a basketball family. My father, Harvey Catchings, played in the NBA for eleven years. Soccer was my first organized sport, followed by softball, and then basketball in the third grade. My sister, Tauja, played basketball in college and beyond. My brother, Kenyon, was a stellar basketball player in high school before he was sidelined with Crohn’s disease. I played for Pat at UT and then played for fifteen years in the WNBA for the Indiana Fever until I retired in September 2016.

I was in the eighth grade when I first laid eyes on Pat Head Summitt. I was home from school, sitting on the couch channel surfing, and suddenly it happened. Those icy blue eyes were staring at me from the screen, and in that moment I was completely transfixed and unable to turn away. While the players dressed in orange were going up and down the court, my gaze was fixated on the lady with the eyes. She was stomping up and down the sidelines, yelling to her team, staring them down and demanding respect. I loved it! I was drawn to it. My first thought was Whoa! That lady is intense! But my next thought was Wow, if I ever get good enough, I want to play for her. It would be the best thing ever. I don’t know how much more of the game I watched, but I had been mesmerized by that woman. One minute she would be shooting that steely glare and the next minute she would be smiling and grabbing one of the players in a bear hug. That was the day I started thinking about going to college, wearing that orange uniform, and playing for the lady with icy blue eyes.

Just two years later, the recruiting process began for me. I received all types of offers to different schools, but somehow even as a youngster I didn’t get caught up in any of that. As I thought about where I wanted to play, I was looking for somebody who had the same values as my mom and dad—the values I had been raised with. There was one coach who had all of those values and more: Coach Pat Summitt.

I remember the day during my junior year of high school when Pat sat in my living room for a home visit, telling me what it would be like to have me playing on her team. It was so cool. The thing I loved the most about her visit was that she didn’t promise a specific amount of playing time, or that I would start or even have a chance to play. She said she treated all her players the same—they had to earn their minutes and their position on the team. She expected everyone to strive to be their best, every single day. And she told me she would help make me the best player I could be. That’s the thing I loved the most—being challenged.

So I chose Tennessee and Pat. Reading my acceptance letter, which came directly from Pat, was a dream come true. It was something I had hoped for since the day I saw her laser blue eyes glaring back at me from my TV screen.

Coaches at other schools I had visited had shown a clear leniency toward their players. But Pat was strict and her expectations were high for everyone. Her players knew what they were getting into when they came to play for her—it was going to be a lot of work. But when you want to be the best, you know what you have to put out there. Most of us had come out of high school as stars with numerous titles and accolades, but we were now all on the same level. So if a player came in acting like a diva, Pat would put her in her place really fast. “If you’re going to play for me, these are the things I expect,” she would say. She wanted our all.

Every day, Pat drilled into us her team-first philosophy: it’s not about you— it’s about the team. Every game was a team effort. It’s just like life: you need your people around you to be successful and to help you get through it. Despite her legendary glare, stomping, and shouting, Pat’s ultimate goal and purpose was to help each of us be better—not just better players, but better people. Isn’t that what servant leadership is all about?

Pat challenged me in ways I had never been challenged before, and I loved it. I had never worked as hard as I worked in her practices during those years. Practices were always competitive between the players—even bloody at times! But off the court, we were family. Pat made sure there were no grudges held. She always had us practice against male players because she was always

thinking about the game and how she could best prepare her team. It was never about girls vs. boys—Pat knew if we practiced against people who were quicker, stronger, taller, and more athletic, it naturally would condition us to be better players. She always said, “You’ve got to practice against the best to be able to play against the best.” After going through Pat’s practices, the games were almost easier.

Emblazoned on the wall in our locker room at UT was a list with the title “The Definite Dozen.” They were Pat’s rules for success—her blueprint for winning, not just in basketball but in life. She saw these ethical principles, developed through her years as a coach, as the reason for her success. And every year she drilled them into her team. The Definite Dozen were:

1. Respect yourself and others 2. Take full responsibility 3. Develop and demonstrate loyalty 4. Learn to be a great communicator 5. Discipline yourself so no one else has to 6. Make hard work your passion 7. Don’t just work hard, work smart 8. Put the team before yourself 9. Make winning an attitude 10. Be a competitor 11. Change is a must 12. Handle success like you handle failure

Pat wanted us to be the best at everything we did—not just basketball. Yes, she focused on the game and wanted our best on the court. But she also wanted our best in the classroom. She wanted our best when we went out into the community. She continually pressed all of us to be great players, great students, and great people. When I go back to values, that’s what stood out for me. She wanted me to be the best me I could be. She didn’t want me just because I was a good basketball player—it went way beyond that.

I was born with a hearing disability and wore hearing aids at a very young age. Since I never really knew anything else, I didn’t give it much thought until I started second grade in a new town. The other kids made fun of me relentlessly, laughing at my big, clunky hearing aids and the way I talked. So one day when I was walking home from school, I threw those hearing aids as far as I could into a field full of tall grass. My parents weren’t happy and decided not to replace them. I didn’t care; I was free! And I didn’t wear hearing aids again—until Pat

them. I didn’t care; I was free! And I didn’t wear hearing aids again—until Pat got involved.

Like many great leaders, Pat had an open door policy. If we had something going on in our personal lives we wanted to share with her, she was there. And it went both ways: if Pat was curious about something, she wasn’t shy about finding out what she needed to know.

One day after practice, Pat asked to speak with me. Along with our athletic trainer, Jenny Moshak, we sat down in the training room and Pat began asking me some seemingly random questions.

“Tamika, when people can’t see clearly, what do they need?” “Glasses,” I said, oblivious to what was happening. “And when someone walks with a limp, what do they need?” “I guess sometimes they need to wear something inside their shoe?” The questions continued. And then: “And when people can’t hear, what do they need, Tamika?” I suddenly realized why we were having this talk. Oh man, she got me! “They need . . . hearing aids,” I said with a smirk. Pat told me she had called and spoken with my mom. She had noticed more

than once that I hadn’t heard something she’d said, and she wanted to find out if there was anything she needed to know. Of course, my first thought was how mad I was at my mom. But Pat had a message for me that day that I’ll never forget.

“Tamika, think of where you want to go, what you want to do, and who you will be one day. You’ll have so many opportunities to impact people’s lives. You’ll be able to show kids who are going through the same thing you did when you were younger that it didn’t stop you—and that they, too, can do anything to reach their dreams. You’ll be able to encourage parents who have a child with a disability. You don’t get it right now, but you have so much to offer. One day by using your voice you will make a difference in so many lives. You need to start preparing for that right now.”

I got the message, immediately began speech therapy, and was fitted for new hearing aids. Pat was right, of course. She was always right.

Pat was honored when they dedicated the Pat Summitt Plaza and statue at UT in 2013—but she kept saying, “It’s not about me, it’s not about me.” And I said, “Pat, it is. We all are where we are and have had the success we’ve had because of you.” But that was Pat. She was an extremely humble person who never gravitated toward the spotlight. She would always turn it around and shine it on her players. That’s the kind of person and the kind of leader she was—a servant

first. After I graduated from Tennessee and went to the WNBA, Pat and I stayed

close. I looked to her for support and direction navigating the ups and downs of professional basketball. She was always only a phone call away. From the beginning, Pat seemed invincible to me. But, well, life shows us differently.

There are still days when I can’t believe she’s not physically here. It hits me at the weirdest moments. But then something snaps me out of it. It’s almost like Pat’s there telling me she’s okay—“Catch, you got this.” I know I would not be the person I am today without her presence in my life. There will never be another Pat Summitt. But her legacy shines bright through the players she coached, the staff who worked tirelessly around her, and the many fans and people across the globe who Pat encouraged and inspired. While we don’t get to see her every day, her memory will live on forever.

Tamika Catchings played basketball for Coach Pat Summitt with the University of Tennessee Lady Vols from 1997 through 2001. She was a member of the 1997 National Championship team at UT, and is a four-time All-American. Tamika retired from WNBA basketball in September 2016 after spending her entire fifteen-year professional career with the Indiana Fever. She was the WNBA MVP in 2011 and took the Fever to their first WNBA Championship in 2012. She is the founder of the Catch the Stars Foundation, which provides and promotes fitness and literacy programs for underserved youth. In 2016 she published her autobiography, Catch a Star: Shining through Adversity to Become a Champion. Following her love for tea, she purchased Tea’s Me Café in Indianapolis in 2017 and has plans to franchise the company.

Note 1. For more information on Pat Summitt, read her autobiography (with Sally

Jenkins): Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective (New York: Crown Archetype, 2013).

Chapter 29 Dallas Willard

The Smartest Man I Ever Met


I first met Tony Baron when he was running the Servant Leadership Institute at Datron World Communications. As I got to know him, I realized he was not only a wonderful teacher but also a great author and speaker. When Tony volunteered to write an essay about his mentor, Dallas Willard—a classic servant leader I had always wanted to meet—I was excited. I believe Tony has captured the essence of the amazing servant leader that Dallas was. When you read this, I think you will agree. —KB

THE SMARTEST MAN I ever met was my doctoral professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. He taught a class on spirituality and ministry during a two-week seminar held at the Mater Dolorosa Catholic monastery in the hills of Sierra Madre. It was a lackluster topic, to be sure, but a fairly typical one for graduate school. The title of the class did not do justice to the richness I experienced during my time studying in that beautiful retreat setting under the guidance of Dr. Dallas Willard.1

Some may not be surprised that I call Dallas the smartest man I ever met, assuming it is due to his academic qualifications. He held a Doctor of Philosophy degree, specializing in epistemology—how it is that we know what we know. Besides his work at Fuller, Dallas taught philosophy for nearly fifty years at the University of Southern California, where he was voted Outstanding Faculty Member by the student senate. He was well loved and widely respected

Faculty Member by the student senate. He was well loved and widely respected as a professor. I suppose it’s also possible I refer to him as the smartest man I ever met because of his many writings on philosophy and spirituality, which offer readers a glimpse into his genius.

I call Dallas Willard the smartest man I ever met for this reason: I have never known another human being who was so integrated with the ways of Jesus, the icon of servant leadership (Mark 10:45). He understood how to live life as our Father in heaven designed us to live it. No one I ever met epitomized servant leadership more than my professor and friend.

The Role of a Servant Leader To paraphrase Robert K. Greenleaf, I believe a leader must be a servant first.2 Servant leaders must leave people they are serving better off emotionally, physically, spiritually, or psychologically for having had encountered them. Servant leaders must also seek what is good and true and model and dispense wisdom on how to live life in the context of one’s surroundings.

Dallas Willard lived out three dimensions of servant leadership that profoundly changed my life as a professor, pastor, parent, coach, and person. He inspired greatness, he was a humble teacher, and he was a compassionate encourager.

Dallas Willard Inspired Greatness Most leaders inspire greatness in others through their words. After all these years, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech still moves us. A profound sermon or speech often compels us to be more or do more. Through words, we are motivated to think bigger and live with greater purpose—to be a better person, a more effective servant leader, or a more obedient follower of Jesus.

Some leaders inspire greatness beyond their words—their daily lives demonstrate the richness and weight of their words. They live and speak what is true. We find ourselves marked by the authenticity of their statements and won over by their convictions. Leaders of this caliber inspire greatness because they align their words with their actions. They convey wisdom with kind justice toward others and great responsibility toward God. They have an instinct for what is important in life. They are mindful about what needs to change to make the world better. Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi come to mind. More than their words alone, their lives stir greatness in others. In the same way, Dallas Willard inspired people to make a difference in the world. The ripples can

be seen in the very public lives of theologians such as Richard Foster and J. P. Moreland and pastors such as John Ortberg. Tens of thousands of students, faculty, clergy, philosophers, scholars, church members, and truth seekers have been inspired by Dallas Willard, and I am among them.

Dallas Willard Was a Humble Teacher No one can be a transformational teacher or servant leader without humility. Arrogant teachers may provide knowledge to their students, but rarely wisdom. Humility is the honest appraisal of one’s gifting without competitive comparisons to others and with full recognition that God is the provider. In essence, humility is personal power under control.

It is often said that ego stands for Edging God Out, and I would agree. But I would also say that an unhealthy ego is Edging Growth Out. Humility demands that we be lifelong learners of worthy things.

What made Dallas Willard such a gifted and humble teacher was that he was a seeker of truth and knowledge; a servant to his Lord for the benefit of others; and a sage for all those willing to hear and learn how to live “on earth as it is in heaven.” Dallas incarnated what he imparted.

Dallas Willard Was a Compassionate Encourager I will never forget the opportunities I had to visit one on one with Dallas. He had a way of making me feel as if I were, at that very moment, the most important person in the world. Someone else with his impressive intellect might make the other person nervous or the give-and-take of good conversation difficult, but not Dallas. His gentle demeanor was consistent with his remarkable listening skills and warm eye contact. He genuinely cared about each person as an individual.

Before I met Dallas, my close friend Keith Matthews, also a teacher in my doctoral program, had already told him about me, my work, and a little bit of my heart. Dallas knew I was an Anglican priest serving as senior pastor of a Southern California church. Although the church was healthier than ever in its hundred-year history, I was physically tired and at times would experience spiritual burnout. The numbers were growing, the people seemed responsive, but I wondered if the church was really making disciples of Jesus for the world or just better church members for the parish. After five and a half years, I was wondering if I could continue to be an instrument of God—and if I was the problem.

As I talked with Dallas, it didn’t take long for him to get to my heart. My

tears flowed freely. Dallas touched my hand and looked me in the eyes. His words were encouraging and refreshing water to a dry soul. I was truly nourished by them. I suddenly understood that I was called to stay at that ministry and continue on. It was as if Jesus Himself had told me that He was pleased with my ministry. No exaggeration—the burnout totally evaporated in that moment.

I had several conversations with Dallas in more casual settings over meals and in front of other friends. He always encouraged me with a touch, a look, or a voice that expressed “I believe in you.”

I knew I was not alone. Many people called Dallas a dear friend simply because he was available to listen and pray with them. When I became part of the faculty at Azusa Pacific University, he told me he was pleased. His affirmation was timely and dear to me. It confirmed to me that becoming a professor was the next natural step in my journey as an apprentice of Jesus.

Thirteen years have passed since I took Dallas’s course on spirituality and ministry. I still miss him deeply. His life and ministry continue to impact me in profound ways.

As I get older, I continue to prune my library and give books to my students, friends, and family. My wife has graciously managed to make room in our home for 1,500 books. Needless to say, I have not given away any books written by Dallas Willard. I need them.

Once when clearing books from storage, I discovered a note from Dallas. It was kind, positive feedback about one of my major doctoral papers. I believe it was a divine appointment by God to recover this note when I did, because I had been questioning my skills as a writer—and at that moment reading these words made me feel as if I were sharing my struggles with Dallas face to face:

Dear Tony, You are an excellent writer in every respect. . . . Your paper is a profound meditation on the experience and use of silence by a disciple. . . . You are very strong on both depth of understanding and originality of ideas. . . . Thank you for being one of the best contributors in class.

The note was a great boost at a time when I was wrestling with how to communicate leadership and spiritual formation ideas with originality and understanding. Dallas encouraged me to keep expressing my thoughts in writing.

Dallas had this kind of effect on countless others. When he passed away, the Willard family opened an invitation on their website to anyone who had been impacted by Dallas. They encouraged people to share their thoughts and stories. Hundreds of people posted. Time after time, the posts spoke of his ministry of

encouragement while sharing transforming truth. Dallas Willard, as a servant leader, was a compassionate encourager.

Dallas Willard’s Passage into Heaven Dallas often described death as a transition from one room in the house to another. He even surmised that when his time came, it may be a while before he realized he had died. On May 8, 2013, the servant leader who changed hundreds of thousands of lives in his seventy-seven years on earth passed permanently to another room.

Dallas Willard inspired greatness and demonstrated compassion and humility as he taught and encouraged people he met on his journey. I am sure he is still learning and growing in the presence of the Lord. I would like to think he has been promoted from an Apprentice of Jesus to a Master Apprentice—although in my mind he already had achieved that status here on earth.

Although barely able to speak in his final moments, Dallas uttered two last words: “Thank you.” I am told by those who were there that they were unsure what he was grateful for—although, of course, there were many things. Was it his wife, Jane? His family? His life? No one knows for sure. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if this humble servant leader was simply responding to Jesus at the heavenly gates after hearing our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in the joy of your Master.”

Tony Baron (www.drtonybaron.com) is a professor at Azusa Pacific University and an internationally recognized speaker, writer, and consultant on the subject of creating servant leaders and transforming churches and corporations. He also serves as scholar-in-residence for Center for Executive Excellence (www.executiveexcellence.com) and is the author of six books. Tony holds a double doctorate in psychology and theology, is board-certified in forensic medicine, and is a diplomat in the American Board of Psychological Specialties.

Notes 1. To learn more about Dallas Willard, visit www.dwillard.org. 2. See Robert K. Greenleaf, “The Servant as Leader” (Atlanta: The Greenleaf

Center for Servant Leadership, 1970).

Chapter 30 Henry Blackaby

A Lifelong Servant Leader


I have worked with and been inspired by Henry Blackaby, who is highlighted here by his son, Richard, as a true exemplar of servant leadership. Henry’s book, Experiencing God, coauthored with Richard, has impacted millions of people. One of Henry’s key philosophies is “Find out what God is doing, and then join in.” He helped me realize that I shouldn’t be praying for God to support my agenda, but rather figuring out if my agenda supports His. Henry also convinced me that “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” Thanks, Richard, for sharing your wonderful father with us all. —KB

“LEADERSHIP IS ONE of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.” Thus James MacGregor Burns introduced his seminal work on leadership, titled Leadership.1 I would add that within the field of leadership studies, few philosophies are cited more often—and more incorrectly—than servant leadership.

I recall talking with a minister to college students who proudly informed me that he was teaching his students lessons on servant leadership. He related how he had taken his protégés to a downtown location where they had served soup to the homeless. This man, while sincere, was misguided. Service is not identical to servant leadership. Not everyone who serves is a leader—while, paradoxically, no true leader leads without serving.

no true leader leads without serving. In 1977, Robert K. Greenleaf published his influential book Servant

Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness.2 In it, he wrote “A new moral principle is emerging which holds that the only authority deserving one’s allegiance is that which is freely and knowingly granted by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the clearly evident servant stature of the leader.” Greenleaf challenged the prevailing command-and-control approach to leadership by asserting “the servant-leader is servant first.” He went on to suggest that “the best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

Servant leaders primarily do two things. First, they enhance the lives of their people. Despots use their people and drain them of their vitality. Servant leaders inspire, enable, and bless those they work with. Second, servant leaders develop organizations that not only achieve their mission but also benefit those who participate in it, whether they are employees, shareholders, or customers. As Max De Pree observes: “The goals of the organization are best met when the goals of people in the organization are met at the same time.”3 Unlike notorious CEOs who plunder their companies for profits or callously discard employees to improve the bottom line, servant leaders build healthy organizations that enable their people to thrive. Without a servant’s heart, leaders will not properly care for their people; absent of leadership skills, leaders will be unable to benefit their people over prolonged periods.

Society has been inundated with reports of high-profile leaders who led selfishly, greedily, unethically, and ultimately illegally. Yet, despite regulatory laws and a cacophony of moral indignation broadcast by the media, the disturbing trend continues. What is needed is a fresh understanding of, and appreciation for, servant leadership.

Servant leaders can thrive in any walk of life. Robert K. Greenleaf led in that manner as he worked for one of the largest companies in America. Abraham Lincoln once claimed he would tend General McClellan’s horse if he would win victories for the Union. In these pages I want to introduce you to the servant leader I know best: my father, Henry Blackaby.4

Henry Blackaby began his career as an unassuming, unlikely leader. Born in Canada, he was shy and soft spoken. After migrating to California to attend graduate school, he became the pastor of a troubled little church in the San Francisco Bay area. Gang violence, murder, and drugs were rampant in the blue-

collar community. Yet my father’s church began to regain hope and to grow. When the crime rate dipped significantly, the local police attributed much of the credit to my father’s humble congregation. His second church was in Los Angeles. The congregation had endured a devastating split in which it had lost numerous members. Once again, the congregation began to regain its health. In both churches, my father felt called to leave after hope and vitality had been restored (and, I might add, shortly after his congregation finally brought his salary to a livable level).

It was in his third congregation that Henry Blackaby eventually began to garner attention. Faith Baptist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, only had ten members remaining when it called my father as its pastor. The church had posted a “For Sale” sign and determined that if my father rejected their invitation it would disband. Years of bickering and decline had brought the congregation to the brink of extinction. Again, my father restored healing, hope, and health to the congregation. Attendance grew. The building was remodeled and expanded. Joy and laughter filled the previously vacant hallways.

Throughout his career, Henry Blackaby led in a twofold manner. First, he always sought to ascertain the big picture. Where was this organization to go? What were the possibilities? Having an unbounded faith in God, my father claimed that if God were as powerful as Christians claimed He was, then nothing was impossible. In the early days, operating in a dilapidated building with a handful of bickering members, my optimistic father sounded more like a lunatic than a leader. But something astounding always happened in organizations led by my father. One would look in vain for his cutting-edge marketing strategy, innovative use of media, or enlistment of prominent investors. Yet it would always happen: hope, excitement, and expectation, along with radically transformed lives, inevitably resulted from his leadership.

At Faith Baptist Church, university students began attending in droves. As those enthusiastic students were trained, they were dispatched across the province to begin new churches. During the twelve years my father led the church, his modest congregation began thirty-eight mission congregations. But he was not merely a visionary. He was a servant. I recall numerous occasions when he brought college students to our home and spent the evening speaking into their lives. At times those young, aspiring ministers would fail and end up in our driveway or around our dinner table. My father poured his life into the people he led. Many of those people are prominent leaders today.

My father repeated his servant leadership style when he assumed the role of denominational leader. While without formal authority over fellow ministers, he exerted enormous influence in their lives by both serving and inspiring them. As

exerted enormous influence in their lives by both serving and inspiring them. As a result, over the years he exercised profound influence over others.

Henry Blackaby has been invited to speak at the United Nations, the White House, and the Pentagon. He has mentored CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. He has traveled to 115 countries and spoken to their leaders. He has never possessed significant financial resources to distribute, nor has he had the power to dispense promotions or bonuses. My father’s greatest resource has always been himself. People want to be with him. People have traveled across the country to seek his counsel, or to just be around him.

I have heard more than one aspiring leader ask my father the secret to his influence. I’m not sure my father fully understands it to this day. He has always had an unparalleled belief and confidence in God, and he instills that faith in others. He has that uncanny ability—possessed by all great leaders—to make the people around him better. He raises people to greater heights through his encouragement and personal example.

We live in an age that is desperate for servant leaders. In the long run, servant leaders exert enormous influence. My father certainly has, not only with our family but with people around the world. Perhaps it’s because he has always understood that, ultimately, we do not lead organizations—we lead people. And when we impact people, we change the world.

Richard Blackaby (www.richardblackaby.com) is president of Blackaby Ministries International (www.blackaby.net) and lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He travels internationally, speaking on spiritual leadership, and regularly ministers to Christian CEOs as well as church and family leaders. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books—many with his father, Henry.

Notes 1. James MacGregor Burns, Leadership (New York: Harper and Row, 1978). 2. Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant leadership: A Journey into the Nature of

Legitimate Power and Greatness (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1977). 3. Max De Pree, Leadership Jazz (New York: Currency Doubleday, 1992). 4. To learn more about Henry Blackaby, visit www.blackaby.net/about-


Chapter 31 Frances Hesselbein To Serve Is to Live


I met Jim Dittmar when he was directing the Servant Leadership Institute at Geneva College just outside of Pittsburgh. Every year he brought in outstanding speakers who had a heart for servant leadership. Frances Hesselbein was one of the best. I got to know Frances even better through her role at the Drucker Foundation. Despite her amazing accomplishments, she exudes humility. When Marshall Goldsmith interviewed Frances recently and asked her the key to her success, she said it was her blood type —“B positive.” When you read Jim’s essay on this legendary servant leader, you’ll see why that is true. —KB

FRANCES HESSELBEIN1 WAS CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA from 1976 to 1990; cofounder in 1990 and CEO of the Peter F. Drucker Leadership Institute (renamed the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute in 2012); recipient in 1998 of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and one of Fortune magazine’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” in 2015. The complete list of Frances Hesselbein’s accomplishments, awards, and honors would take your breath away. Yet the reason she is so admired, respected, and loved by people from around the world has little to do with the tributes she has received. The reason is all about who she is—as a person and as a leader.

“The awards are not what’s important in life,” says Frances. “You have to have values that are the basis of all you do. You have to live your values. After

have values that are the basis of all you do. You have to live your values. After all, leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do.”

I have had the privilege of knowing Frances as a friend for nearly fifteen years. During the times that I have visited with her, watched her speak and conduct meetings, observed her interactions with a variety of people, and listened to others speak about her, I have reached the same conclusion as many others: Frances is a humble, energetic leader of influence. She is a masterful change agent whose character resonates integrity, steadfastness, civility, and trustworthiness. In her often quoted mantra, “To serve is to live,” she embodies the qualities that set her apart as an exemplar of servant leadership.

Frances describes her day-to-day life of service this way: “Every day I find a way to make a difference, to help someone, even if I don’t know them. And then at night I ask myself ‘What did I do today that helped someone, some group or organization? In what ways did I make a difference in someone’s life?’ I never fail to ask that question at the end of the day.”

How did Frances Hesselbein develop into the exemplary servant leader she has been for decades—one who serves, values inclusion, breaks down cultural barriers, and works tirelessly for the greater good? What happened early in her life that had such a formative influence on her character and behavior? In answer to these questions, what follows is a portion of her story that is about humble beginnings, life-shaping experiences, rich familial influence, and walking through opened doors.

Frances grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, she enrolled in the Johnstown Junior College, University of Pittsburgh. She later married John Hesselbein and they had a son, also named John.

Frances’s hometown experiences were a crucial source of personal development: “As I look back, everything I learned in Johnstown prepared me for my life in leadership. Growing up and going to school with children whose fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers had come to Johnstown from all over the world to work in the coal mines and steel mills gave me exposure to and an appreciation for a rich diversity of cultures.”

The journey that eventually led to Frances becoming the CEO of the Girl Scouts USA was a circuitous route—one that began in a way that she never imagined would lead to the organization’s top role. In 1960, Girl Scout Troop 17 —thirty 10-year-old girls who met in the basement of the Second Presbyterian Church—was disbanding. Their leader had left to become a missionary and no one had stepped forward to replace her. Frances was invited to be their volunteer leader. She declined the offer several times before finally agreeing to “do it for six weeks, until we find a real leader,” she thought. What was to be a six-week

six weeks, until we find a real leader,” she thought. What was to be a six-week commitment continued until all of the girls had graduated from high school, six years later.

In 1970, Frances was asked to become the executive director of the Talus Rock Girl Scout Council and she accepted. In 1974, she agreed to take the same position with the Penn Laurel Council in eastern Pennsylvania.

Other doors of leadership opportunities in Johnstown also opened to Frances. In 1970, Frances was appointed the chairman of the Johnstown United Way campaign, the first time a woman had held the position in Johnstown or the United States. Responsible for leading its most important fundraising effort of the entire year, Frances immediately gathered a coalition of labor union and steel mill executives to help secure its success. Together, they mobilized the region to raise the highest per capita level of financial giving of any United Way campaign in the nation.

Besides these experiences in Johnstown, Frances’s family was very influential in helping shape her character and her perspective on life and leadership. Of her father, Frances states: “His example of writing and storytelling, his sense of history and our heritage, and his love of family and service walk around me. I think of him every day and am grateful to a soldier, ‘an officer of great character and courage,’ who adored his children; understood the power of love, language, and example; and tried to prepare Trudy, John, and me for a life well lived—a life of service.”

Another example of significant influence, which Frances calls her “defining moment in life,” came when she was visiting her grandmother, Mama Wicks, who lived in South Fork, Pennsylvania. Frances was very close to her grandparents and spent considerable time in their home while growing up. In Mama Wicks’s home, two beautiful Chinese vases stood on a shelf above a large pipe organ. Frances was very fond of these vases and often she would ask her Grandmother Wicks if she could play with them or simply touch them. Each time her grandmother would say no. During one visit, when Frances was eight years old, she again pleaded that she be allowed to play with the vases. Her grandmother took her aside, sat down with Frances and told her this story:

“Long ago, a Chinese laundryman named Mr. Yee lived alone in a small shed near our home. Each week he picked up your grandfather’s shirts and brought them back in a few days, washed, starched, and ironed perfectly. Mr. Yee wore traditional Chinese dress—a long tunic and a cap with his hair in a queue. Some days your mother and her sisters would come home from school crying that bad boys were chasing Mr. Yee, calling him bad names, and trying to pull his queue.

trying to pull his queue. “One day there was a knock on the kitchen door. When I opened it, there

stood Mr. Yee with a large package in his arms. I asked him to come in and sit down, but he just handed me the package, saying, ‘This is for you.’ I opened the package and in it were two beautiful old Chinese vases.

“I said, ‘Mr. Yee, these are too valuable, I can’t accept them. Why do you want me to have your beautiful vases?’ He said, ‘Mrs. Wicks, I have been in this town for ten years, and you are the only one who ever called me Mr. Yee. They won’t let me bring my wife and children here, and I miss them too much, so I am going back to China. The vases are all I brought with me. I want you to have them.’ There were tears in his eyes as he said goodbye.”

At the age of eight, that story taught Frances the lesson of respect for all people and became the basis for her commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Another major source of influence for Frances was her friend and mentor, Peter Drucker, whom she first met in 1981. She had been invited by the chancellor of New York University to hear Peter speak. After meeting and speaking with Frances, Peter became deeply involved with the Girl Scouts USA, met its leaders, and shared his management insights with them for the next eight years. For Frances, it marked the beginning of a mentor relationship that lasted until Peter’s death in 2005.

Their regard for one another was mutual. During an interview, Peter was once asked who was the greatest leader he had ever known. His answer? “Frances Hesselbein.” “Oh, you mean in the nonprofit sector,” the interviewer replied. Peter countered, “Frances could manage any company in America.”

After having served as executive director for the Talus Rock and Penn Laurel Girl Scout Councils, in 1976 another door opened for Frances—this time an invitation to interview for the position of CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. Frances describes that experience:

I never would have applied on my own. For 67 years, they had never brought up someone from within the organization. I didn’t want to be interviewed but my husband was marvelous. He said, ‘I’m driving you to New York—it’s the perfect job for you.’ So I went and interviewed, and because I was not interested in the job, I was very open and relaxed. Finally, they asked me, ‘If you did take this job, what would you do?’ I gave them this almost revolutionary, total transformational plan. Two days later, I got the call: Come to New York. It was July 4, 1976, and for the next 13 years, as CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, I never had a bad day.

So Frances and her Girl Scouts of the USA leadership team set out to make the changes necessary for the organization to thrive well into the future. They applied leadership principles Frances had acquired through her experience learning by doing as a local Girl Scout leader, as well as the lessons of life taught to her by her family and friends and, later, by her mentor, Peter Drucker. Frances and her team worked to establish organizational structures and a culture that encouraged shared authority and decision making, emphasized a spirit of service, and, above all, embraced inclusion.

For Frances, inclusion meant replacing hierarchical, top-down authority with a model of shared governance and decision making that utilized the input of Girl Scout leaders nationwide. Frances called this model Circular Management. It meant finding ways to encourage girls of all races and ethnic backgrounds to become Girl Scouts. It meant making sure that adults in Girl Scouts leadership included members of those same racial and ethnic backgrounds.

To attract such diversity among the Girl Scouts and help girls and leaders in five racial and ethnic groups find themselves in Girl Scouting, Frances adopted a marketing and recruiting approach that spoke respectively to each of these groups. For example, five recruitment posters were created, each one featuring a Girl Scout and her leader who were either African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, or Native American, with a scene and a message that were culturally specific. The effect of this effort was very positive and resulted in doors being opened to girls and leaders that had not been opened before.

Frances also felt that the Girl Scouts of the USA was seriously out of date. When she was appointed CEO in 1976, she realized the program handbooks in use had not been revised since they were originally developed in 1964. To address this concern, she brought together a team of outstanding contemporary writers, researchers, and illustrators to create new program handbooks that were relevant to the young girls of the mid-1970s. These handbooks were heavy in math, science, and technology. And throughout each handbook were illustrations that represented the diversity of girls who were members of local Girl Scout troops.

All of these changes and more transformed the Girl Scouts, whose mission is “To help each girl reach her own highest potential,” into an energized, relevant, inclusive, and growing organization that embraced the future with a hopeful sense that Girl Scouts of the USA could make a real difference in the lives of its troop members. As a result, by 1990, Girl Scouts had grown in number to 2.3 million members with 788,000 adult leaders.

At the last gathering of national Girl Scouts leaders before Frances retired, Peter Drucker was in attendance. As part of her final goodbye to all those in

Peter Drucker was in attendance. As part of her final goodbye to all those in attendance, Frances and Peter were to engage in a dialogue while sitting on the auditorium stage. As they prepared to begin their presentation, Peter said to Frances, “We’ve played a trick on you. I’m going to interview you.” As the interview neared completion, Peter told Frances, “A portrait of you will be hung in the hall of this beautiful facility (the Edith Macy Conference Center in New York). What shall the brass plate on it say?” Frances answered, “I hope it will say that I never broke a promise.” “No,” Peter replied, “It will say, ‘She kept the faith.’”

Frances has indeed kept the faith. She has kept the faith of all those whose influence helped to make her the person she has been throughout her life. She has kept the faith while walking through doors opened to her. And she continues to keep the faith as she lives to serve.

This statement from Frances delightfully captures the themes of her life of service:

Leadership is not a destination; it is a journey. And along the way we find fellow travelers to share the journey. We open doors that tell us where we should be—and then, once we have served, we close those and then we open new doors.

Jim Dittmar is president and CEO of 3Rivers Leadership Institute (www.jimdittmar.com/home), which provides leadership development and training that is transformational. Utilizing insights gained over the past thirty- seven years as a leader, teacher, and trainer of working professionals, Jim creates learning experiences that are exceptional in content and interactive and engaging in process. He is excited about his new book, A Leadership Carol, coauthored with John Stanko.

Note 1. To learn more about Frances Hesselbein, read her autobiography: My Life

in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned along the Way (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011).

Chapter 32 Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

A Sermon Seen


It warmed my heart when Mark Sanborn, whom I’ve shared a speaking platform with a number of times, decided to write an essay about Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. Charlie’s positive attitude had a major impact on my faith and my life. I’ll never forget the last time I talked to Tremendous, just before his death from cancer. I said, “When you get to heaven, will you tell us what it’s like?” Tremendous was weak but his answer illustrated what kind of guy he was. “I wouldn’t have the words to describe it! If I did, you’d probably commit suicide!” Thanks, Mark, for sharing about such a great servant leader—my friend and mentor, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. —KB

EDGAR GUEST WAS born in England but moved to the United States where he became known as “The People’s Poet.” He penned more than 11,000 poems, which were syndicated in 300 newspapers and collected in more than 20 books. One of his best-loved poems is a classic familiar to many called “Sermons We See.” In it he says, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day / I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.”

Servant leadership is about being a sermon seen; about living out an inner philosophy. The best servant leaders don’t just tell us how to lead, they show us. And I don’t think I ever saw a better sermon about servant leadership than my

friend Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. Many recall Charlie as a powerful speaker and successful author. His book

Life Is Tremendous has sold more than two million copies since 1967.1 When Charlie spoke, people listened in rapt attention. His booming voice and physical interaction with the audience were his trademarks. Charlie had the gift of engaging the brain by appealing to the funny bone, and few who experienced one of his live presentations ever forgot it.

He is probably best known for his declaration: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

Charlie combined his love of books, leadership, and learning with his speaking and publishing career. Charlie founded Executive Books (now Tremendous Life Books) as a way to get affordable and uplifting books into as many hands as possible. He leveraged the service provided by his book company into an ongoing conduit for philanthropy: a percentage of the earnings each year goes to support the charities and organizations that were near and dear to Charlie’s heart.

Here are a few reasons why I think Charlie was an exemplary servant leader.

Charlie Was Larger Than Life I dedicated my book The Encore Effect to Charlie, and in it I referred to him as “larger than life.”2 In the best sense of that phrase, Charlie demonstrated that we can live life larger than we are. He was a role model of a life lived large, and that is the legacy he left to us all.

Charlie lit up a place when he entered. I’m sure some people, upon first meeting Charlie, wondered if he was for real. We have all met people whose enthusiasm or mannerisms were an act. Charlie was the real deal. His enthusiasm was contagious and, frankly, irresistible. Over the years I’ve seen many cynics won over when in Charlie’s presence. It was impossible not to get caught up in his tremendous spirit.

Charlie Had a Passion for Others Charlie’s love of books was second only to his love of people. I smile thinking of how he would present someone with a good book: he’d hold it to his chest, sigh delightedly, and gently kiss the cover before he’d hand it over. You knew you were getting good stuff. I don’t think we can ever count how many people fell in love with books because of Charlie or had their lives changed through a book he encouraged them to read. Charlie’s great love affair with books was

book he encouraged them to read. Charlie’s great love affair with books was because he knew the power of books to dramatically impact the reader’s life.

He loved and accepted everyone, even people who were mean to him. It is easy to like nice people. Charlie proved that you can love even the unlikable. He especially loved babies and little children. It was hard to get through a store or other public area without Charlie stopping to interact with and kiss the little ones he encountered.

If you ever tried to pray for Charlie, especially as he was battling his cancer, he’d admonish you to save your prayers for somebody who really needed them. “You might get to heaven before I do,” he’d boom, “so don’t pray for me.” His unique and humorous perspective proved that Charlie was more worried about others than he was about himself—the mark of a true servant leader.

Charlie’s Highest Desire Was Service Charlie was never about Charlie. He was all about Jesus, and therefore he was all about others. He lived out what he felt was his mandate: to demonstrate Jesus— the greatest servant leader of all—to everyone he met.

I believe ambition and leadership are two different things. Ambition creates benefits for the ambitious; leadership creates benefits for the greater good. While an effective leader enjoys benefits, servant leadership always benefits others— the larger community. Charlie’s ambition was channeled into how he could serve others.

Charlie lived modestly when he could have enjoyed a much more lavish lifestyle. That’s because he’d rather give—or “return,” as he said later in his life. One great example is the joy he found in taking friends to a favorite factory outlet store where you could get an amazing deal on quality clothing. Once there, you learned that Charlie purchased far more for others—shirts, ties, and other dress clothes to give to missionaries—than he ever did for himself.

He Was Congruent There was no distinction between Charlie’s professional life and his personal life. His faith infused everything he did. While some may not have agreed with Charlie, nobody could question his sincerity. He was serious about his work but always had fun. He loved to sing and laugh and he enjoyed the simple pleasures as much as the big ones. And his greatest joy was in helping others have fun.

Charlie dedicated the lower level of one of his buildings as a Christmas room, full of seasonal delights that could be enjoyed by people year round. He found great joy in bringing underprivileged children to visit so they could experience

the Christmas message. The room was filled with easy-to-play instruments and Charlie often conducted makeshift performances by giving everyone an instrument and asking them to play.

He Was a Conduit To me, Charlie was a conduit of Jesus’s love. It gave him superhuman energy, amazing patience, incredible compassion, and unlimited grace. Because of Charlie, I’m a better husband, father, son, brother, friend, and Christian.

Author, teacher, and preacher Samuel Brengle said, “The final estimate of men shows that history cares not an iota for the rank or title a man has borne, or the office he has held, but only the quality of his deeds and the character of his mind and heart.” The quality of Charlie’s deeds and the character of his mind and heart made him the most effective sermon seen—a servant leader who realized his greatest purpose and joy by putting others ahead of himself and loving them unconditionally.

Mark Sanborn (www.marksanborn.com) is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. He is the author of eight books including The Encore Effect, You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader, and his national bestseller, The Fred Factor. Mark is a noted expert on leadership, team building, customer service, and change.

Notes 1. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, Life Is Tremendous (Wheaton, IL: Living

Books, 1968). 2. Mark Sanborn, The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable

Performance in Anything You Do (New York: Crown Business, 2008).

Part Five Putting Servant Leadership to Work

Firsthand Accounts of People Who Have Made Servant Leadership Come Alive in Their Organizations

• Colleen Barrett, in “Treat Your People as Family,” details the amazing impact servant leadership has had on the success of Southwest Airlines for more than forty years—delivering both great results and great human satisfaction.

• Robin Blanchard, in “Developing and Using Servant Leadership in the Military,” relates how the most rewarding experience throughout her career has been watching her people succeed.

• Dave Ramsey, in “Leading Is Serving,” tells the story of sharing with his son his philosophy that servant leaders are powerful, not subservient—but with that power goes a heavy responsibility to everyone they lead.

• Shirley Bullard, in “Serving from an HR Perspective,” shares that, in good times and bad, being a servant leader in HR is more about serving than it is about leading. You need both to be effective—especially when there’s no script.

• James H. Blanchard, in “It’s How You Treat People,” discusses how the intent to serve from day one played a major role in Synovus Financial being inducted into Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For Hall of Fame.

• In “How Servant Leadership Has Shaped Our Church Culture,” Miles McPherson, pastor of Rock Church in San Diego, describes how love as the central theme has caused this servant leadership-based church to flourish.

Chapter 33 Treat Your People as Family


One of the most enjoyable writing experiences I’ve ever had was coauthoring Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Real Success with Colleen Barrett, former president of Southwest Airlines. The airline industry, in its history, has lost money. But Southwest Airlines, year after year, has turned a profit. Why? Because Colleen and founder Herb Kelleher have always had servant leadership in their veins. You’ll see it in the way she insists on capitalizing words such as Mechanic, People, Customer, and Leader! This essay is about Southwest’s servant leadership story. —KB

OVER THE YEARS, all of our Leaders at Southwest Airlines have tried to model Servant Leadership. Herb Kelleher, our Founder, led the way clearly—although I don’t think he even knew what the expression “Servant Leadership” meant until we told him. To be honest with you, neither did I, until my friend, the visionary leader Ann McGee-Cooper, introduced me to the book Robert K. Greenleaf: A Life of Servant Leadership by Don Frick.1

But while our recognition of the term Servant Leadership might have come late, for over four decades Herb and I have said that our purpose in life as Senior Leaders with Southwest Airlines is to support our People. To us, that means treating People as family. To quote Herb’s foreword to the book I coauthored with Ken Blanchard, Lead with LUV:

Most people are looking not only for monetary security but also for psychic satisfaction in their work. That satisfaction is provided in our personal lives by the love and affection of family and friends. Why shouldn’t a business

simply be an enlargement of our circle of family and friends?2

How does that play out for us at Southwest? First of all, we want each of our People to realize they have the potential to be

a Leader. They can make a positive difference in anybody’s work and life, regardless of whether they are in a management position. So we try to hire Leaders, no matter what role we want them to fill.

Second, our entire philosophy of Leadership is quite simple: treat your People right, and good things will happen. When we talk to our Employees, we tell them:

You are the most important Person to us. You are our most important Customer in terms of priority. Therefore, we’re going to spend 80 percent of our time treating you with Golden Rule behavior and trying to make sure that you have an enjoyable work environment where you feel good about what you do, about yourself, and about your position within this Company. But if we do that, what we want in exchange is for you to do the same thing by offering our Passengers—who are our second Customer in terms of priority— the same kind of warmth, caring, and fun spirit. If you do that consistently, our Passengers will recognize how significantly different this is from the behavior they witness at other businesses, and they will come back for more.

The Quadruple Bottom Line As you can tell, to me a Servant Leader’s energy is focused not on just the financial bottom line, but also on these three bottom lines: being the employer of choice, provider of choice, and investment of choice.

I think the entire success of a Company begins with being the employer of choice. We try in every way to let our Employees know they are important and are empowered to make a positive difference on a daily basis. That’s one of the reasons why, in our corporate headquarters in Dallas, there is a huge inscription on the glass elevator wall in our lobby that says:

The People of Southwest Airlines are the creators of what we have become— and of what we will be. Our People transformed an idea into a legend. That legend will continue to grow only so long as it is nourished—by our People’s indomitable Spirit, boundless energy, immense goodwill, and burning desire to excel. Our thanks—and our love—to the People of Southwest Airlines for creating a marvelous Family and a wondrous airline!

We are concerned not only about our People, our Customers, and our financial well-being, but also about how we give back to the community. We have always encouraged our People to be active in their communities. We want them each to be the citizen of choice. So in many ways, we focus on the quadruple bottom line: being the employer of choice, provider of choice, investment of choice, and citizen of choice.

Three Serving Values The highest priority for all of our Employees is safety, which we never compromise. Beyond that, we have identified three key values—Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitude—that we want our People to engage in every single day.

While having a Warrior Spirit is about being competitive, it’s not in a warlike way. Basically, it means that you have to have a fighting spirit to be successful. You want to be the best, work hard, be courageous, display a sense of urgency, persevere, and innovate. You want to be a winner. People don’t want to work for a loser. You want to win at what you set out to do. That’s why we can still turn a plane around faster than anybody.

It’s similar to one of the two character traits that Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great,3 used to describe great leaders: will, or resolve. It’s the determination to follow through on a vision, mission, or goal. The focus is on giving your all to get the best result so everyone wins—your People, your Customers, your owners, and the communities in which you serve. We think there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the best at what you do.

Our second value is a Servant’s Heart, which is the core of knowing how to lead with love—or LUV, as we spell it at Southwest Airlines. (LUV is Southwest Airlines’ symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. The airline first started flying out of Love Field in Dallas. At Southwest, LUV continues to be the common spelling of the word love, which is used, along with the symbol of a heart, in marketing, correspondence, and décor throughout the organization.)

When we interview, hire, and promote, we’re looking for People who are Servant Leaders—no matter what title or position they are going to hold, they have to want to serve. They need to have a Servant’s Heart—a passion for serving others. We want all of our Employees to follow the Golden Rule, adhere to our basic principles, treat others with respect, put others first, be egalitarian, demonstrate Proactive Customer Service, and embrace the Southwest Airlines family. As a result, while we obviously wouldn’t hire a Pilot who can’t fly, we also wouldn’t hire Pilots who think they are a big deal and more important than

the rest of our People or our Customers. Our Pilots have even been known to help clean cabins in our planes when there is a time crunch between flights.

Our third day-to-day value is a Fun-LUVing Attitude. I can’t tell you how hard we worked on the proper descriptive we wanted to use. We ended up with “Fun-LUVing” to once again highlight our LUV symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.

Basically, a Fun-LUVing Attitude means just that: we want to enjoy our work life as much as we do our home life. We want to show each other and our valued Customers that we care about them, and we want them to feel like extended family members while they are in our presence. We have fun, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we maintain perspective, we celebrate successes, we enjoy work, and we are passionate Team players.

Our Fun-LUVing Attitude is personified by our Flight Crews. They are always thinking of creative ways to make flights interesting and fun for our Passengers.

For example, we received a letter from a Customer who told us that before her flight left the ground, one of our Flight Attendants made an announcement that the Flight Crew had had a long day and they were tired. For this reason, instead of passing out the peanuts they were going to put them in a pile at the front of the plane and when the plane took off, the peanuts would slide down the aisle and everyone could grab a packet. Passengers laughed and thought he was joking, but then they saw him dump a pile of packaged peanuts into the center aisle. Sure enough, during the steep takeoff all of the peanuts began to slide toward the back of the plane. Everybody started laughing. People in the aisle seats grabbed peanuts and passed them over to other Passengers who stretched out their hands.

Do I have to say anything more about the Fun-LUVing Attitude of our People? I think a lot of them must have colored outside the lines as children.

The Leadership Aspect of Servant Leadership The strategic, or leadership, aspect of Servant Leadership, which is the responsibility of the hierarchy, is rounded out with short-term goals and initiatives that tell our People where they should put their attention right now.

At Southwest, we have annual goals and initiatives we want our People to always have top of mind. But those things are tied to the big picture that we want them to also focus on continuously—that we are in the Customer Service business and happen to fly airplanes, we want to democratize the airways, and that everyone, every day, needs to live our values of safety and having a Warrior

Spirit, a Servant’s Heart, and a Fun-LUVing Attitude.

The Servant Aspect of Servant Leadership When it comes to the servant aspect of Servant Leadership, Herb was my role model. He had no trouble philosophically inverting the traditional pyramidal hierarchy. To him, once everybody knew where we were going, what we wanted to accomplish, and what our values were, he worked for our People and our Customers.

One of our relatively new Leaders once told me that his best example of a Servant’s Heart was something he saw Herb do at one of our Spirit parties. Spirit parties are held once a year at different fun locations where everybody has lots of space to move around and visit. This Leader happened to be standing near the doorway when Herb entered the room. He’d heard about what a “rock star” Herb was with our People, but he still marveled over what he saw.

He watched Herb talk to a Mechanic in worker’s clothes for at least fifteen minutes—even though there were literally hundreds of People circling Herb for his attention. Herb never looked over the guy’s shoulder to see who else might be there, and never diverted his eyes from this man while they were talking. Herb was courteous to everyone who was trying to shove the guy out of his space so that they could fill it, but he gave this man his time. It was clear to this new Leader that Herb had no hierarchical concerns—he was completely interested in what the Mechanic was trying to tell him. That had a profound impact on this Leader, and he remembers it to this day. He has been with us more than twenty years now.

Not only do we serve and care about our People, but we empower them to use common sense and good judgment. Yes, we have written rules and procedures, and you can go look at them, but we say to our folks every day, “The rules are guidelines. We can’t sit in Dallas, Texas, and write a rule for every single scenario you’re going to run into. You’re out there. You’re dealing with the public. You can tell in any given situation when a rule should be bent or broken. You can tell because it’s simply the right thing to do in the situation you are facing.”

Our folks are marvelous about handling all kinds of situations with our Customers. We have had Pilots pay for hotel rooms because our Customers were getting off at different cities than they intended for the night, and the Pilots could see that the people needed help. They don’t call and ask, “Is it okay? Will I get reimbursed?” They do these things because that’s the kind of People they are.

When our People realize they can be trusted and they’re not going to get called on the carpet because they bend or break a rule while taking care of a

called on the carpet because they bend or break a rule while taking care of a Customer, that’s when they want to do their best. Our People understand that as long as the decisions they make are not illegal, unethical, or immoral, they are free to do the right thing while using their best judgment—even if that means bending or breaking a rule or a procedure in the process. Servant Leadership and empowering your People is not soft management. It is management that not only gets great results but generates great human satisfaction for both our Employees and our Customers.

Colleen Barrett (http://bit.ly/2uI0lv8) is president emeritus of Southwest Airlines. She joined Southwest in 1978 as corporate secretary, serving in VP and executive VP roles before becoming president and COO in 2001. She stepped down as president in 2008. Colleen has been the recipient of many notable awards over her career including the Tony Jannus Award in 2007 and the prestigious Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy in 2016.

Notes 1. Don M. Frick, Robert K. Greenleaf: A Life of Servant Leadership (San

Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2004). 2. Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett, Lead with LUV: A Different Way to

Create Real Success (Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press, 2011). 3. Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and

Others Don’t (New York: HarperBusiness, 2001).

Chapter 34 Developing and Using Servant Leadership in the



Robin Blanchard is the daughter of my cousin, Bob, who was one of the top school superintendents in the country, finishing his career in Portland, Oregon. Watching her father as a leader motivated Robin to become a great servant leader herself. I think you’ll realize in this essay that she accomplished her goal through serving our country in the military. —KB

RECENTLY, WHILE LOOKING through documents my mother kept from my childhood, I found an aptitude test I had taken in the seventh grade. My highest score was in leadership. Who would have known then that I would follow a path leading to the honor of serving as the first female brigade commander in the Washington National Guard!

I have always felt drawn to serving others. Some in the military did not always support my servant leader philosophy. But they didn’t understand that a servant leader has flexibility—although we always put our people first, we are able to be very directive when necessary. No discussion is needed when a military leader says, “Take that hill and hold it.” Soldiers must move out quickly to accomplish whatever they are directed to do. They are dedicated to the mission of protecting this nation’s freedoms and will always do their best to that end. However, followership must be earned. Some leaders win the hearts and minds of their soldiers and have comments made about them such as “I would follow them anywhere.” Other leaders find that their people only follow them when it is required—or when someone is watching.

What’s the difference? I would posit that some leaders understand servant leadership and some don’t. A servant leader must be technically competent; but to motivate others they also must earn trust and respect. Before a leader can have success on the battlefield—when orders must be followed quickly or someone might die—they already must have earned the hearts and minds of their troops. That takes a servant leader.

During my twenty-eight years practicing servant leadership in the military, I realized two critical things about leading others: (1) People need to feel valuable; and (2) People need to be equipped for success.

Let People Know They Are Valued I wanted my people to know I valued them. I worked hard to ensure this by praising them, empowering them, and always being focused on them during interactions. Equipping these people for success meant ensuring they were well trained for new positions and always understood what was expected of them.

Praise is important for everyone—it’s part of what makes people feel valued. The significance of sincere, specific praise cannot be overlooked by leaders. It lets direct reports know you are paying attention and also gives them a road map for exactly how they should behave in the future.

During my deployment in Kuwait, I attended a high-powered, rank-heavy meeting. Picture a large room with a U-shaped table arrangement facing a screen with the commanding general sitting in the center. The majority of those sitting in the first row were general officers ranging from one to three stars. Since I was a commander, even though I was only a colonel, I sat in the first row. It was quite intimidating. My plan was to keep quiet, observe, and learn.

Several times during the meeting, the commanding general asked for comments or suggestions. Although I had passed on speaking several times, at one point I could not sit silent anymore. I explained with passion what I believed to be the issue and solution. Although to everyone else in the room it was simply another comment in a sea of comments, for me it was anything but normal. The experience left me shaky and nervous. I was proud I spoke up but wondered how many people thought I was a complete idiot. The commander had acknowledged my comments and solutions as something to consider, but an emotional mind goes to crazy places when intimidated. To my surprise, my boss, a two-star general, found me during a break, praised me for my input, and explained in detail what he liked about my comments. Having received that praising, for the rest of the meeting I freely gave my input and contributed to solutions.

Remember that no matter how senior or junior you are in the workplace, praise releases the recipient’s creative genius—and organizations reap the

praise releases the recipient’s creative genius—and organizations reap the benefits.

Another essential part of valuing people is to trust them and strive to earn their trust in return. Trust is vital up and down the chain of command—maybe even more so for members of the military who deal regularly with life-and-death situations in combat. Soldiers feel valued when their leaders prove they will back them up. In aviation, we call that “having (the person’s) six.” In an aircraft, the direction you are moving is considered twelve o’clock and behind you is considered six o’clock. I always tried to have my soldiers’ six, because a person will be motivated at work when they feel safe to use all of their abilities and take some risk. Risk often results in great revelation that should not be missed; in fact, most innovation begins with someone taking a risk. There is a downside, however: everyone makes mistakes—and they can be significant. How a servant leader deals with those mistakes is key. I tried to defuse and collaborate when mistakes were made. To me, this meant defusing the stuff coming from the people above me who were frustrated with the team’s mistake, and then collaborating with my people to solve the problem. A servant leader asks the question How can I help?

One summer when I was commanding a training battalion in Yakima, Washington, I was tested on how much I trusted my soldiers. As a traditional guardsman, I did not work full time, so I relied on soldiers who were full-time employees managing the courses taught in Yakima. The most senior soldier on the ground in Yakima was my sergeant major. He was a competent soldier who had blended together a training staff of combat arms soldiers and support soldiers to effectively manage the rigorous course schedule.

When his first call came, I had no idea it would be the start of a very difficult summer. The conversation went something like this:

“Ma’am, we have a problem.” “Okay, Sergeant Major, what is it?” “During the live night fire last night, the tracer rounds ignited the grass on the

range. Before we knew it, 600 acres had burned.” I quickly replied, “Is anyone hurt?” He said “No. Range control and the base commander are all in the loop. I just

wanted you to know what happened.” At this point, the conversation went a bit deeper. Suffice to say that the

summer was not starting well—but I supported my soldiers. I must preface the next call with an explanation. In the military, when a

sensitive item is lost, it is very bad. Entire installations can be shut down until the item is found, and people often lose their jobs over this type of mistake.

the item is found, and people often lose their jobs over this type of mistake. Examples of sensitive items are weapons, devices that allow sight in the dark, and explosives. Now, I will continue.

The next phone call came a few weeks later. “Ma’am.” “Yes, Sergeant Major.” “We have a problem.” “What is it?” “We lost one of our borrowed night vision goggles. That is, we think we lost

it. It’s not here in the armory and we are currently checking with the unit that loaned us the goggles.”

Again, a significant conversation ensued with questions and suggestions back and forth.

Ultimately, the goggles were found. The mistake was due to poor accountability when the goggles were borrowed—one had been left in a bag in the corner of the loaning unit’s supply room. This begs the question Why were the goggles not accurately counted at the time of issue? This problem, among several others, was addressed during the course of the investigation into the mistake. Even with this mishap, I kept my focus on my soldiers.

The summer was going from bad to worse. I traveled to Yakima and had a face-to-face conversation with the sergeant major, in whom I had a lot of confidence. He assured me he had everything under control and was putting corrective measures in place.

When the third call came, it was all I could do not to wince. “Ma’am.” “Yes, Sergeant Major.” “Let me first say, there were no injuries. However, while transporting the M4

rifles to Seattle, the truck broke down just before entering the armory and there was an accidental discharge.”

This means that one of the M4 rifles fired off a live round. It is routine when transporting weapons to have live ammo—however, it should never be chambered unless a threat is imminent. Naturally, a lengthy conversation ensued. A mistake is one thing, but three errors in one summer is something else.

Later that day I received a call from my boss, who was not happy. He is normally a calm man, but today that trait disappeared. Let’s just say this time there was no praising involved—and I did not have much backside left after the conversation.

My three-hour drive to Yakima to meet with the team was filled with strategizing how to remedy the situation. My boss had been very clear: “You

strategizing how to remedy the situation. My boss had been very clear: “You have a leadership problem over there. Get it fixed!”

I could either fire everyone—or think of a better solution. When a person is not performing, and it has become obvious they will never perform in that position, a reassignment to a more aligned position could be an option. But sometimes sharing the person with the competition is the only option. A servant leader must make the decision. In this situation, I believed in my soldiers. I was convinced they had simply hit a few difficult situations and, with support, I knew they could turn the situation around. I chose to defuse and collaborate.

I brought all the leaders and instructors together and we strategized how to make things better. I guided them when necessary, but mostly I listened and encouraged. An interesting side note to this story is that almost all the soldiers in the room were male combat arms and had never worked for a woman. This naturally made it a bit tougher, but at the end of the meeting, the soldiers had solutions they intended to implement.

It worked. During the rest of my command of that unit, the soldiers worked harder than I had ever seen anyone work. They were rewarded with no more major mistakes. The unit passed all accreditations with excellent ratings.

On several occasions over the years since that assignment I’ve run into soldiers from that unit, and their reaction is always the same. “Ma’am, you had our six that summer, and we will never forget it.” If you want to motivate people, make sure they know they can trust you.

Equip People for Success People must be equipped in order to succeed. Therefore, a servant leader must ensure that people know what is expected of them, understand policies and procedures, and receive whatever training is needed.

My fifteen-year-old son’s first job was working as a day camp counselor for the city parks and recreation department. He was so excited to have a real, paying job. But after a month, his motivation went down. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “Mom, I don’t think they are going to pay me.”

I said, “What do you mean? You haven’t been paid?” He nodded sheepishly. I said, “Call your supervisor and ask what is wrong.” He said, “Maybe I misunderstood and I’m not going to get paid.” Poor guy,

he felt terrible. I said, “Call her.” When he called, her response was, “Did you submit your time card?”

When he called, her response was, “Did you submit your time card?” “What’s a time card?” he asked. When people don’t know policies and procedures, it can cause frustration and

be very demotivating. Too often, orientation of new employees is not given much emphasis. Because a servant leader seeks to equip their people, employee orientation is a critical element to ensure continued motivation.

Servant leadership is the best way to lead. Everyone needs to feel valued, and whatever you do toward that end will be motivating. I show my people I value and trust them by giving them sincere and specific praise, empowering them, and ensuring I am focused on them, not on myself. Equipping people for success is just as important. I seek to ensure my people know policies and procedures, are aware of my expectations, and are trained for their job.

Throughout my career, my most rewarding experience has been seeing my people succeed. And that is the goal of every servant leader: to care more about the success of others than your own.

Robin Blanchard owns and operates Blanchard Consulting (www.blanchardconsulting.biz) in the Washington, DC, area. She is also a senior trainer with The Ken Blanchard Companies, facilitating both civilian and governmental organizations across the United States. She retired as a colonel after twenty-nine years of service with the Washington Army National Guard. She has a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College and an MBA from Grand Canyon University.

Chapter 35 Leading Is Serving


I’ve always been a big fan of Dave Ramsey. When he spoke at a leadership conference I was part of a few years ago, I was fascinated by his thinking. He has a unique way of making complicated topics like finance simple and interesting. With his popularity, he certainly could think of himself as a big deal—successful people often are used to being served rather than serving. But that’s not the case with Dave. Why? Because he realizes, and will share in this essay, that with success comes the responsibility to serve. — KB

I’VE SPENT A lot of time thinking about what God’s done in my business over the past two decades. This thing has literally grown from a one-man show on a card table in my living room into a team of more than 550 superstars doing work that’s changing lives. It’s crazy! I always knew God was going to do some big things with our stuff, but the level of talent and commitment He’s brought alongside me over the past twenty years has totally blown my mind.

As I tried to put all those experiences into my book, EntreLeadership,1 and as I thought about all the stories that have led us to where we are, one concept kept coming to the surface as the key to our success: servant leadership. That mindset changes how you do just about everything.

Servant, Not Subservient Back at the start of my career, when I was a young hotshot looking to make my mark in business, I attended just about every leadership seminar that came to

town. That’s something my parents taught me. Even back when I thought I knew everything—which is another way of saying young and stupid—I still soaked up information from everyone around. There was always something new to learn.

So when as an adult early in my career I came to know Jesus, I started checking out Christian leadership speakers and authors. I remember when I was sitting in one of those seminars, the guy on stage said something like, “The greatest leaders are always servant leaders.” My first reaction was You have got to be kidding me. If I wanted to be a servant, I’d go work for someone else. I want to be my own boss! Now that I get to teach and speak on leadership pretty often, I see the same reaction on other people’s faces. In corporate America, the gap between servant and leader is about the size of the Grand Canyon!

Here’s the problem. When some leaders hear servant, they think subservient. That is, they think servant leaders bow down to the whims of their teams. They mistakenly think that a servant leader only takes orders and acts like a doormat at the front door of the business—trampled on by everyone who walks in. That’s way off the mark, but it’s something I watch young leaders struggle with every time I teach on this topic.

Servant Leaders Are Powerful I get so frustrated at the false notion that servant leaders are weak, timid figureheads with no power. Was Jesus timid when He went head to head with the pious religious leaders of the day? Was He weak when He drove the moneychangers out of the temple? No way! He served His people far more than anyone else ever has, but He always maintained His strength. The truth is, servant leaders are powerful. We are warriors for our people, and we act to defend the culture from anything that would tear it apart.

When I call out a salesperson who is only making half the calls he is supposed to make, I’m serving him, because his income will always be limited by his weak performance. When I immediately fire someone who was sexually inappropriate with a