Photo: Unsplash (Madi Robson)
Photo: Unsplash (Madi Robson)

Servant Leadership (Part 1)

The five words used in the New Testament translated “ministry” generally refer to “servanthood” or service given in love.

South Pacific March 24, 2017

The five words used in the New Testament translated “ministry” generally refer to “servanthood” or service given in love. Similarly, the Greek word for leadership is “diakonia,” which translates literally to “serving at tables.” Serving others is the very essence of ministry.

As Robert Greenleaf, the father of modern servant leadership theory,

explains, true leadership “emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others.” Even as far back as the fifth century B.C., Lao Tzu wrote that “the highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. . . .  The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words.  When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, ‘We did this ourselves.’”

I recently came across a very powerful little set of points from Trinity Western University that are worth reflecting on as you evaluate your leadership style and strive toward servant leadership. They provide a comparison of self-serving leaders and servant leaders.

Self-Serving Leaders                                Servant Leaders

Leader’s objective is to be served                  Leader’s objective is to serve

Understood then understand                         Understand and then understood

Self-image and advancement                         Focus on team’s potential and success

Treats others as inferior                                  Treats team with respect

Decision-making is centralized                      Decision-making is shared

Atmosphere of dependence                            Atmosphere of empowerment

Rejects criticism – seeks credit                       Encourages input – shares credit

Expediency is the criteria                                Decisions made openly, with consultation

Accountable to superiors only                        Accountable to God and others

Shuns personal evaluation                              Welcomes personal evaluation

Clings to power and position                          Willing to step aside for others

Summarized from

As I read through the list above, I challenged myself to honestly evaluate my own motives and make sure I am working toward being a servant leader. Are you willing to join me in focusing on being a servant leader? In honestly evaluating our motives for leadership? Only by truly examining our focus and motivation can we move toward the servant leadership that is essential to true gospel ministry.

This is Part 1 in a series of posts by David McClintock. Click the Latest Posts tab below to find related posts.

Note: Article written and posted in English


David McClintock

David McClintock has served as a Bible teacher for most of his professional life. He has also been principal of six schools and a Conference and Union Education Director. He has twice returned full time to the High School Bible classroom from administration and has stepped back from being the Associate Education Director at the South Pacific Division when he was invited to be the principal at Avondale School, Australia, as school land is what he enjoys. He most enjoys engaging learners in knowing, loving and serving God. In July 2019, he was appointed the SPD Education Director.

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