The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Servant leadership: Making Christ known

“It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

In The Servant as Leader, Robert K. Greenleaf says: “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The best test is: do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

Servant leadership begins with the heart—our attitude, our motives. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus ... but [he] emptied himself, taking the form of a slave ...” (Philippians 2:5, 7). Jesus models humility, submission to God’s authority and service to others. “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).

A diamond vision of leadership is bottom-up, not top-down. It looks like this:

Pastor and lay leaders
Pastor and lay leaders

Servant leadership requires speaking the truth in love and being honest, transparent, open and vulnerable. And there’s a big difference between being truthful and nice.

Serving and giving go hand-in-hand. Servant leaders reflect an attitude of gratitude—living with arms extended and hands open rather than arms closed and fists clenched.

Effective servant leadership requires relating to and knowing the people you are called to serve. Think of the power of remembering a name or knowing a person’s story. It speaks volumes to an individual or group. It says you do listen, you do care, you do respect them as people and not as objects or means to an end.

Though Greenleaf says serving is a natural feeling, I tend to disagree. But I believe with God’s intervention—through baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the witness of Scripture and of Christ, and living in community—the gift and calling to be a servant leader is nurtured and reinforced.

How are you modeling servant leadership in your home, workplace or congregation? As people in communities of faith, I encourage you to wrestle with and discuss the mission of your congregation: Is it about meeting the needs of those who already know Christ? Or is it about unleashing the gifts of the baptized for the sake of making Christ known outside our walls through acts of intentional service and love?

This week's front page features:

Happy and Sad Danes unite: A tale of emotions, dancing, disagreement, fire—and mold. (Photo at right.)

'It's what we do': Gift-giving in California goes beyond the ordinary—and across the world.

French Lutherans want links with the U.S.: 'Help us overcome our prejudices.'

Cell phone sins: Would you e-mail or send a text message in church?

Also: New believers to disciples.

Also: Emerging worship.

Also: Standing for justice.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann (right) asks: "Why does someone become Lutheran — or stay Lutheran?"

Amber Leberman blogs about meeting with journalists from other religious magazines on the Web.

Kathy Kastilahn writes about Johnny Appleseed.

Julie Sevig blogs about dancing Danes.

Sonia Solomonson writes about how peanut butter and jelly can change the world.

Check out our blog > > >

Last chance! Getting pregnant and ART:

Our January cover story will deal with beginning-of-life issues. Many couples are unable to get pregnant in the conventional way and try one or more of the variety of Assisted Reproductive Technologies now available.

If you have had such an experience, would you be willing to share your story in 300 words or less? We'd like to know what questions you asked and what issues you considered as you made your decision to try an ART.

Send your response to sonia.solomonson@thelutheran.org by Oct. 12.

Members: Respond online > > >

Take our 2008 topics survey:

Every year The Lutheran gives our readers the opportunity to help select the major issues we'll cover the following year.

Now it's time for you to contribute to our 2008 cover stories. The Lutheran staff has collected your comments and suggestions throughout the year and has used them to create a list of 25 potential cover stories. Choose 10 from our list or suggest your own.

The deadline to complete the survey is Oct. 31. Results will appear in the January issue of The Lutheran.

Take the survey > > >

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This is an Associated Church Press e-newsletter.




Posted at 2:10 pm (U.S. Eastern) 10/9/2007

This is a good article!  One that I pray and hope is read by many.

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