One of the most valuable leadership concepts that I’ve learned since becoming a Regent student is that of servant leadership. As a Masters in Organizational Leadership student, the concept was important enough for the school to introduce it in the very first course, LMOL 601 Foundations of Leadership: History, Theory, Application & Design. In every course since, servant leadership has either been an important aspect of a project, embedded in an assigned reading, or made honorable mention in a forum post by either the instructor or a student. There is no doubt that Regent puts a high emphasis on servant leadership. Personally, I have gained absolutely nothing by practicing the concept of servant leadership, but that is precisely the point. Servant leadership isn’t about what I can gain, but about what I can give. “The focus of the [servant] leader is on followers, and his or her behaviors and attitudes are congruent with this follower focus” (Patterson, 2003, p. 3). In John 13:5, we see Jesus demonstrate servant leadership when he washes his disciples’ feet, “Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (NASB). Bible commentator Matthew Henry calls Jesus’ actions, “a miracle of humility” (1994).
Now that I can articulate servant leadership better, I often walk into my work area in the morning, grab some coffee, log on to my computer, and then think of ways how I can serve my subordinates, peers and superiors in the midst of my daily tasks. Sometimes it means writing a formal recognition package on a subordinate and at other times it means praying for and being there for my superiors when they need that extra effort to get things done. In any case, it means emptying self for the sake of someone else’s benefit. A summation of the life of Christ described in Matthew 20:28 gives us the ultimate example of a servant leader: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (NASB).
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume. Peabody: Hendrickson.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
Patterson, K. (2003). Servant Leadership Theory. Virginia Beach, VA: School of Leadership Studies, Regent University