Servant Leadership: Practices
“Content: Practicing Servant Leadership Today
- Part 2” (SL#63)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® 1:3
- Charting Your Course
Practice Content: continued. Two articles are companions,
together presenting the content and a graph on servant leaders today. After
this outline, we will continue with Practice #4.
Content - Part 1 (SL#62)
Practice #1 - Empowered Leadership
Practice #2 - Ethical Leadership
Practice #3 - Enabling Leadership
Content - Part 2 (SL#63)
Practice #4 - Effective Leadership
Practice #5 - Efficient Leadership
Practice #4. Effective
“Doing the right things on purpose.” Servant
leaders intentionally seek to establish kingdom mission, goals, and direction
with the church body and its members. That is the mark of effectiveness, or
excellence, Paul sought in the service of Christ:
2 Tim. 2:15--Do your best to present yourself
to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who
correctly handles the word of truth.
Phil. 3:12-14-- Not that I have already
obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take
hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider
myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is
behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win
the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Note: For further development of “effective leadership”
see Transformative Leadership in SL#68 and Mission/Vision-Centered Leadership
1. Personal effectiveness. Commit yourself to a lifetime of
growth, development, and contribution:
- Continue to learn about your service/leadership roles--from Scripture,
studies, experience, mentors, and ministry team members.
- Covey, Habit #7-- “Sharpen the saw is the endowment of continuous
improvement or self-renewal to overcome entropy” (Principle-Centered
Leadership, p. 47). He also admonishes: “Think effectiveness
with people; efficiency with things and methods”
- Discover and put into practice your spiritual gifts, empowering
you to work with others to pursue kingdom goals.
Romans 12:8-- . . . if it is leadership, let him
govern diligently; . . . Actually exercise consistently your giftedness,
what you have learned, and the skills developed.
- Personal effectiveness has a diverse set of traits and skills; examples
- a personal sense of mission and calling
- high regard and respect for others
- integrity in behavior and methods
- communication skills, with a focus on listening
- forward-looking, visionary
- intelligence, job knowledge
- energy for “2nd mile” efforts
- Congregational effectiveness--work with your
team or the congregation to establish and achieve kingdom goals.
- Think about the congregation as a social/spiritual “system”--the
connectedness of the parts affect the whole. Do not be shortsighted or crisis/event
- Establish with the congregation a kingdom-size mission/vision as its true
- Assess its actual situation, its opportunities, challenges, and resources.
- Cast the mission/vision into a desired future.
- Empower the coworkers to transform vision into a new reality; implement
toward desired results with objectives, goals, and action plans.
- Effective leaders consistently develop as servant leaders; and, they consistently
work with others to pursue kingdom purposes. Congregations deserve, if not
demand, that of us.
- Take a careful look at your administrative skills; it is a common way to
move deeper into servant leadership.
James H. Landes: A Model of Servant Leadership:
Personal Tribute by Lloyd Elder
James H. Landes--pastor, executive, visionary, Christian gentleman--was for
25 years my friend and valued mentor; and for three years my “boss.”
From extensive notes taken on many occasions and diverse circumstances in the
1970’s, I have gleaned his guidance about Christian ministry/leadership,
which he consistently lived and practiced.
- Respect individuals and individuality.
- Develop those who work with you to their full potential.
- Develop a sense of gratitude; be gentle and caring in your relationship
- Keep structures that permit change and renewal.
- Live your life fully motivated by the cross of Jesus Christ; seek to know
the will of God for your life and work.
- Learn all you can about the institutions, churches, associations, BGCT,
agencies, and the SBC.
- Constructive criticism of the denomination is in order.
- Make judgments knowing that your judgments are only approximations of the
- Prevent dry-rot in the denomination: search for the right people; develop
open, healthy environment and communications.
- Provide for self-criticism; build it into the process; know and accept
- Be more interested in what is going to be rather than in what has been;
live with purpose.
- Love: first, last, in every way--love.
Practice #5. Efficient Leadership:
“Doing the right things in the right way.”
Servant leadership competently organizes and administers ministries and tasks
toward the support of kingdom mission and goals. “Management” and
skill development are not unimportant disciplines--they are a must in a serving
church. For additional development of “efficient leadership” see
SL#72, Administrative Management Leadership.
- There is no single word in the Bible translated “efficient,”
but . . .
- There are several words carrying that concept of “efficiency”:
order, orderly, manage, administration, stewardship, and others. Our own vocabulary
has a plethora of such terms: able, capable, useful, accomplished, competent,
practiced, fitted, “handy,” even well-organized.
- Competence: Beyond any doubt, the fundamental way to be
a servant leader is to do well whatever tasks, function, or role you offer
as a follower of Christ. My mother, Dorris D. Elder, spent much of her life
keeping infants in the church nursery--superbly well. She was one of my models
as a servant leader. Others may be “out front,” but Mother was
“down on the inside” doing a service that blessed the whole life
of the church.
- Administration: 1 Cor. 12:28-- “those with gifts
of administration” (from the word to steer, steerage, one who is a steersman,
a pilot). The word indicates proofs of ability to hold a leading position
in the church. Some are gifted by the Spirit to lead the church body to organize
its ministries and resources to move together toward the larger purpose. In
2 Cor. 8:20-21, Paul described the careful way he and others administered
the generous gift for the Jerusalem poor; efficiency implemented the mission.
- Stewardship: probably the NT word most like “management”
or “administration,” meaning one who has charge over the affairs
- Luke 16:2 -- “Give an account of your management.”
- Luke 12:42 -- “Who then is the faithful and wise manager?”
- 1 Cor. 4:2 -- “it is required of stewards that one be found
- Management: is expressed in the NT by two different words--both
used in 1 Tim. 3:1-5:
- One who desires to be an “overseer” (episkopos)
must be above reproach: one who looks carefully for, who considers, a
- One who demonstrates he is able to take care of God’s church
by “managing” well his own family: one who is set over, who
stands before, who has charge of.
- Order(ly) is a term in the NT that emphasizes order, disciplined
- Titus 1:5 -- Paul reminded Titus that he was left on the isle of Crete
to “set in order” and finish the work.
- 1 Cor. 14:40 -- In the midst of spiritual gifts and church worship,
Paul told the church that “everything should be done in a fitting
and orderly way.”
- Management leadership within the congregation
may be guided by the few but is implemented by many individuals and teams.
There are typical roles and tasks such as:
- allocating resources
- office procedures
- building management
Well, this concludes the presentation of a visual and explanation of five practices
of being a servant leader today. If you were to lead a conference on “Practicing
Servant Leadership,” what would your major points be? Where will you start
your practice? How could this article assist your practice and teaching?
Robert Greenleaf: Ten Characteristics
of the Servant-Leader
Study Abstract - Prepared by Lloyd Elder
The following ten characteristics of servant-leadership are abstracted from
Reflections on Leadership, “Introduction: Servant-Leadership
and The Greenleaf Legacy” (p. 4-7) by Larry Spears, who is editor
of the book. Larry Spears, executive director of the Greenleaf Center for Servant
Leadership, quotes from the New York Times:
Servant leadership deals with the reality of power in everyday life--its
legitimacy, the ethical restraints upon it and the beneficial results that
can be attained through the appropriate use of power.
After some years of carefully considering Greenleaf’s original writings,
Larry Spears has identified the following 10 critical characteristics
of the servant-leader:
Ten Critical Characteristics of the Servant-Leader:
- Listening: Although leaders have been valued for their
communication and decision-making skills, servant-leaders must reinforce these
important skills by listening intently to others.
- Empathy: Servant-leaders strive to understand and empathize
with others, and to accept and recognize people for their special and unique
- Healing: Learning to heal one’s self and others is
a powerful force for transformation, integration, and healing the brokenhearted.
- Awareness: General awareness, and especially self-awareness,
strengthens the servant-leader; it also aids in understanding issues involving
ethics and values.
- Persuasion: Servant-leaders rely upon persuasion, rather
than positional authority. In making decisions within an organization, they
seek to convince others rather than coerce compliance.
- Conceptualization: Servant-leaders seek to nurture their
abilities to “dream great dreams”; to encompass broader-based
conceptual thinking; and to articulate these to others.
- Foresight: The ability to foresee likely outcomes of a
situation is hard to define, but includes understanding lessons from the past,
realities of the present, and likely consequences of a decision for the future.
- Stewardship: By “holding something in trust for another,”
servant-leadership--like stewardship--assumes first and foremost a commitment
to serving the needs of others.
- Commitment to the growth of people: People have an intrinsic
value beyond their tangible contributions as workers; as such, servant-leaders
are deeply committed to their own personal, professional, and spiritual growth,
and especially to the young.
- Building community: Servant-leaders seek to identify and
demonstrate building true community among those who work within a given institution;
institutions need our caring.
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© 2006 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted
by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership