Developing the Heart of a Servant Leader

“Christian leadership is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest. . . . I am speaking of a leadership in which power is constantly abandoned in favor of love. It is a true spiritual leadership. Powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life . . . refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it abundantly”

~ Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus

The Humble Heart of Jesus – Philippians 2:5-11

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Seven Principles of a Servant Leader

  • Servant Leaders humble themselves and wait for God to exalt them
  • Servant Leaders follow Jesus rather than seek a position
  • Servant Leaders give up personal rights to find greatness in service to others
  • Servant Leaders can risk serving others because they trust God is in control of their lives
  • Servant Leaders take up Jesus’ towel of servanthood to meet the needs of others
  • Servant Leaders share their responsibility and authority with others to meet a greater need
  • Servant Leaders multiply their leadership by empowering others to lead

From C. Gene Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership: Becoming a Servant Leader (Lifeway Press, 1996)

READ: Servant Leadership: A Personal Journey (David J. Gyertson, Ph. D)

LISTEN: Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast “A New You Resolution”


Questions for Discussion:

1. Why is character so critical to leadership?

2. 7 Characteristics of Servant Leadership. Where do you struggle with servant leader?  Why?

3. Article. What were some of your thoughts and impressions about servant leadership?

4. Podcast: What characteristics & qualities to you want to BE before you address what you want to DO?

5. What happens when your competence “outpaces” your character?

6. Where do you need to grow in servant leadership? How will it positively affect your leadership at home, work, ministry, community, etc? What’s your plan to address this area of your life?


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