Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
This series of posts flows from two premises and one conclusion: (1) people follow leaders; (2) Jesus is The Perfect Leader; and therefore (3) everyone (including marketplace leaders) should consider following Jesus.
GREAT LEADERS SERVE OTHERS
“Good leaders must first become good servants.” ~Robert K. Greenleaf
According to Wikipedia, “While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase ‘servant leadership’ was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in “The Servant as Leader”, an essay that he first published in 1970.” Since then, many businesses and other organizations have adopted servant leadership as a key organizational concept.
In reality, every leader serves someone. Sadly, many leaders act as though they themselves should be the primary beneficiaries of their service. In my opinion, however, great leaders are not driven by self-interest. Rather, they are driven by the desire to serve others within the context of a noble cause greater than themselves. One could say their life paradigm is servanthood.
The cause animating these leaders is often framed in mission statements based upon helping others. For example, the mission statement of LeaderImpact is to help marketplace leaders (“helping others”) explore the relevance of faith in God in their professional and personal lives (“a noble cause”).
While writing this post, I learned that Rich DeVos, American billionaire businessman and owner of the Orlando Magic, just died at the age of 92. As per an article in National Review, DeVos’ biography illustrates the spirit of servanthood. In both his professional and personal lives, DeVos focused on others within the context of noble causes including many substantial philanthropic endeavours.
Over the entire history of humankind, no one better illustrates servant leadership than Jesus Christ. In one incident recorded in the Bible, Jesus gently rebuked two followers who asked him to specially promote them above his other followers. In the following passage, he went on to encourage servanthood as the primary leadership paradigm and himself as the penultimate example.
“So Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” In essence, Jesus defines servant leadership as the intersection of “the Golden Rule” and the prioritizing of giving over receiving.
Throughout his life, Jesus was consistently driven by a passionate focus on other people’s best interest. The many times he healed those who came to him are obvious examples. So was the time he saved a wedding banquet by miraculously replacing the wine!
Always concerned for the well being of others, he called them out on occasion for wrongful thoughts, words or deeds. And without disrespecting them, he sometimes made decisions that flew in the face of their opinions as to what actions he should take. An excellent example was his obstinate refusal to fulfill their passionate pleas that he abandon his journey to the cross. Indeed, in fulfilling his destiny by dying for me and you, he perfectly and profoundly demonstrated servant leadership!
Next week, we will examine humility, another key characteristic of great leaders.
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.