When I graduated from seminary I had no philosophy of leadership whatsoever. I had never read a book or taken a course on the subject. Nor had I given the qualities of effective leadership a second thought—save for the time I led a neighborhood “gang” of five boys. (Then my authority was based on having a bigger stick rather than practicing airtight management principles.)

Later on, when buzz words like “management by objectives” filled the administrative air, I dutifully spent the waning moments of each day jotting down my goals for the morrow in hopes of being better organized (more efficient). The habit became so deeply ingrained that I still discover myself spelling out my objectives for the next day—even when I am on vacation (to my wife’s and my amusement).

Eventually, however, watching others in leadership led me to the realization that the best leaders were those who won the support of others by persuading them to work together toward a common goal. In other words, the good leader did not bulldoze his or her followers against their will. Instead, he or she became a facilitator for a “team” where each member would work toward (and indeed would claim as their own) a singular objective.

I discovered the Bible had a great deal to say about this effective style of leadership. The apostle Paul, identifying himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, extolled the servant leadership of his Master as the relational example for all Christians to follow.

Thus (and counter to what some consultants might have you think) servant leadership is not a new discovery at all, but a “style” as old as mankind. It fits the biblical view of man being made in God’s image. And it respects the integrity of other people: we are not to use them for our ...

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