The church needs fewer bosses, more leaders.
And even more servants. In the pulpits, not just the pews.
Sadly, too few people in positions of authority know the difference between being a boss or being a leader. Mostly, because we haven't grasped servanthood.
There are some simple ways to tell the difference between a boss and a servant leader. And they come, not surprisingly, from the life and example of Jesus.
Here are 12 that I’m working on:
1. Leaders are servants. Bosses have servants.
Jesus told his disciples “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
True leaders are servants first. And last. And every step in between.
It could even be argued that the term servant leader, while better than boss, isn’t what Jesus was calling us to. He was calling us to be servants. Full stop.
A servant becomes a leader when others follow their example of servanthood.
2. Leaders share information. Bosses hoard it.
Information is power. That is truer now than it has ever been.
As we saw already in John 15:15, Jesus was an information-sharer. He told the disciples everything about his master’s business.
Old-school bosses used to operate under the axiom of information being on a need-to-know basis. Today, for leaders, the default is that everyone needs to know everything – unless there’s a very good reason they shouldn’t.
3. Bosses emphasize tasks and profits. Leaders emphasize people and character.
Bosses will chew people up to get the project done.
But in the church, the people are the project. Bringing people closer to Jesus and to each other is everything we’re called to do.
4. Bosses look out for themselves. Leaders look out for others.
Has there ever been a more stark difference between a servant and a boss than when Jesus stood before Pilate?
One man was the boss. We know it because he kept insisting that he was, by reminding Jesus he had the power to kill him (John 19).
But Pilate was never in charge of that confrontation. Even when he sentenced Jesus to death, Pilate was the boss but never a leader. Even the crowd had more power than him.
Why? Because Jesus was always more concerned for others than himself, but Pilate (not to mention Herod and Caiaphas) were only looking out for themselves.