3 Essential Elements of Servant Leadership - Dare 2 Share
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.
Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

3 Essential Elements of Servant Leadership



New diet tricks and tips to help you live a “healthier” and “better” life are always trending. While some people have serious allergies to certain food products, some diet trends can seem like a gimmick. Have you ever tried gluten and dairy free macaroni and cheese? Sounds like an oxymoron, right?

Well, I’ll never forget the day my wife cooked just that meal. She proudly put the plate in front of me with a smile. Not knowing what else to do, I smiled back at her. (Though, it was obvious I was hesitant to eat this weird concoction.) Realizing I was about to hurt my wife’s feelings, I thanked her for making the meal. But after one whiff of the plate in front of me, I knew that I was in trouble. We sat down and prayed for the food (if you could call it that), and in my own heart I asked God to help the food taste better than it smelled. He didn’t answer my prayer… After a single bite, both of us realized it was one bite too many. We both laughed and realized that gluten and dairy free macaroni and cheese was a faint imitation of the real thing. In order to have a good bowl of macaroni and cheese, you cannot skimp on or alter the key ingredients.

Try This! ❯

Do a simple, unexpected act of service for one of your adult or student leaders this week.

Similarly, getting your adult and student leaders to fully embrace and model a Gospel Advancing Ministry requires thoughtful effort and hard work (See 7 Values of a Gospel Advancing Ministry). If you try to leave Value #3: “Leaders fully embrace and model it” out of your recipe, you’ll find yourself leading a gluten and dairy free macaroni and cheese type of ministry that’s a faint imitation of the real deal.

One way to help develop leaders who embrace and model a Gospel Advancing Ministry is by adopting a servant-leadership model—just like Jesus did. Servant leaders are the kinds of leaders who never value themselves over and above the individual students they serve. Here are three essential elements of servant leadership to keep in mind.

1. Put Others First

Jesus’ ministry philosophy was built upon servant leadership. He defined servant leadership when He said: “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28). All Christians, for this reason, should be servant leaders.

We should work hard to avoid the common secularist mentality of viewing leadership as being above others and crowned with glory, prestige and power. In other words, figure out ways to put others before you. This can be as simple as recognizing someone for their service, giving the better seat to someone else or being the last person in line for an event or meal. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to show your students and leaders just how important you think they are.

2. Sign On for Some Less-than Glamorous Jobs

Good leaders are able to mutually respect and love the people God has placed in their lives. Find ways to practically model this. For example, while establishing ministry roles for your adults and students, be sure to include “servant” type roles for yourself. This could mean that part of your weekly rhythm is to help clean up and tear down the youth room. Delegation is good and often needed, but don’t hesitate to take up a responsibility that may seem less desirable—and then use it as a time to connect with and speak into the lives of those around you who are also helping.

Getting into the dirt and doing what is necessary for the ministry models humility. This will show your volunteers and your students that you are not above any responsibility or task. Don’t give everyone else all the servant-type responsibility and leave none for yourself. (This will send a mixed message to your students if you are only doing the “upfront” tasks.) Your willingness to take on some of the less-than-glamorous jobs will help those under your spiritual care avoid the “spiritual hierarchy trap”(i.e., as you grow in your faith and popularity, the less you have to get dirty in service for the Kingdom of God).

Good leaders mutually respect and love the people God has placed in their lives. Click To Tweet

3. Be Teachable

Paul wrote to Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16). But how can anyone know this to be true if they aren’t willing to be taught?

Having a teachable attitude is the key to growing in wisdom. Every servant leader must be open to the possibility that they could be wrong—even if they believe they are right. This does not mean you give up your convictions or that you are willing to compromise in the truth of the gospel. Rather, it is the willingness to think of others more highly than yourself and, in so doing, consider what they have to say and what you need to learn. Even people that you disagree with provide opportunities to learn and grow, as long as you test and measure what they have to say against the truths of Scripture.

Infuse these truths about servant leadership into your ministry approach and you will likely see increasing success in your efforts to encourage your leadership team toward fully embracing and modeling a Gospel Advancing Ministry. But perhaps the greatest benefit is becoming more like Jesus and, thus, modeling for others what it looks like when the gospel is advancing both in you and through you. If we are to encourage others toward becoming more like Christ, then, we must model both His character and His priorities well—especially in the way we lead and serve others.

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