Church Leadership
Want More Church Leaders? Look For A Servant’s Heart
It’s better and easier to encourage a servant to lead than to get a leader to serve.

It’s hard to find people who will step up and lead in the church today. Especially young people.

That’s what I keep hearing.

But I also see many churches that are the exceptions to that supposed rule. Including the amazing congregation I get to serve.

What are healthy churches doing to encourage and train a new generation of leaders?

There are a lot of factors, of course. Far too many for one blog post. But if I had to isolate it to one primary factor, it would be this.

Healthy churches find potential leaders by paying attention to people with a servant’s heart first, leadership skills second.

Healthy churches find potential leaders by paying attention to people with a servant’s heart first, leadership skills second.

The Unseen Servant

I was reminded of this simple principle this morning as I was eating my free hotel breakfast.

The room was filled with a bunch of noisy college students. One group had shoved several tables together, jamming a bunch of chairs around it to eat and chat together.

When they were finished, they left with the tables still jammed together and chairs scattered everywhere. But one student paused, looked back at the mess and, without saying anything, put all the chairs and tables back in their proper position – including a chair from my table. I thanked her. She smiled awkwardly and left.

That’s not leadership. After all, she didn’t recruit any of her friends to help out. But it is servanthood.

I hope there’s someone in her life who is noticing when she does things like that and encourages her to keep at it, while nudging her to add some leadership skills to the mix.

Encourage Servants To Lead

If I was her parent, her teacher or her pastor I’d try to nudge her forward with simple advice like “the next time you do something like that, why don’t you grab a friend and ask them to help you?”

If she can do that, she’ll be demonstrating and developing leadership skills to go along with her servant’s heart. That’s a powerful combination.

Unfortunately, churches and pastors too often ignore servants like her, while pursuing the group leader who said “let’s go do the next thing”, leaving a mess in their wake. Or the one who’s been around the longest. Or the person with a title.

That’s backwards. We need to value passion and willingness over experience and status.

It’s better and easier to encourage a servant to lead than to get a leader to serve.

How To Spot A Servant

So what does a servant look like? Here are a few traits I’ve noticed:

  • Servants see needs others miss
  • Servants do what’s needed, even if it’s not their job
  • Servants serve without being asked
  • Servants serve without expecting thanks
  • Servants don’t think their service is a big deal
  • Servants don’t seek position or status
  • Servants serve, even if it means stepping aside from the crowd to do so

Every healthy church has those kinds of people. If we pause long enough to notice their small, selfless deeds, many of them can become leaders. Leaders who help others become servants, too.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

April 20, 2018 at 8:36 AM

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