When I was a student at CCA, I had the chance to watch a commencement speech in my Bible class taught by Pastor Bill Schott. In this speech, the keynote speaker, Rick Rigsby, tells the story of UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Coach Wooden went to nationals 12 of his years coaching, won 10 out of those 12 games, and had a seven-year streak at one point. Many people thought he was a leader because of his accomplishments, but the thing that set him apart was what he’d do after every single practice.
Coach Wooden would pick up a broom and sweep the gym floors. Now, he didn’t have to do this. He could have called another worker over and told them to clean the floors, but he took it into his own hands. He knew, more than winning, there was an importance in impacting those around him by serving them.
This is exactly what Jesus calls us to do! In Matthew 20:25-28, it says: “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”
In the smallest ways, the Lord can begin to cultivate you into a servant leader. Jesus didn’t just serve us through healing and the washing of His disciples’ feet, but He served us eternally by paying the ultimate price so that we wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of our own sin. This is the true definition of servant leadership.
He served us eternally by paying the ultimate price so that we wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of our own sin.
So how can we look at this example of Jesus’s servant leadership and take it upon ourselves? Here are three points to help you keep a servant leader mindset:
Remember you are small.Matthew 5:3 is the first line of Jesus’s entire ministry: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Being poor in spirit is recognizing the hopelessness we have without God. This is a state of humility that a lot of people claim to admire but have a hard time practicing.
Being poor in spirit is recognizing the hopelessness we have without God.Naturally, we are inclined to be prideful, but when we are humble, this is when God can use us by working in us and through us. In 2 Corinthians 4:5, Paul writes: “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”
In verse 7, we are likened to clay jars, vessels used to portray the power of God. We may be fragile, but thankfully, He’s in the business of putting broken things back together not just to survive, but to thrive. On our own, we cannot do anything of worth or eternal value, but when Jesus stepped in, He became an atoning sacrifice, doing all these things for us. The only reasonable response to this is to surrender and serve Him.
Look up.When remembering your smallness, you can easily fall into a lack of self-confidence, but when you pair humility with confidence in God, you can look up and realize God's bigness. God is a big God, but He is still one that loves you and has saved you, giving you the ability to be a servant leader, spread the Kingdom, and love others the way you are loved. This is the importance of looking up.
our God has equipped us, is always with us, and is faithful to the end.It’s easy to fall into insecurity and doubt when you don't remember who is strengthening you. A great place to start is Isaiah 40. When we look up, we can see the greatness of our God, which should not only humble us, but also excite us, renew our energy, and empower us to know that we can be bold servant leaders. This is because our God has equipped us, is always with us, and is faithful to the end.
Get moving!We need to be ready to go, like an athlete sitting on the bench who’s ready to play and sprints onto the field when called in. The first two points — remembering that we are small and looking up — put our heart in a position to constantly be a servant leader, but we can’t do it without the willingness to be a servant leader and putting that willingness into action.
The second God calls you to do something, your answer has to be yes because His answer on that cross was yes.
When we are intentional about having these three points at the forefront of our minds, we are able to lead the way God calls us to lead, through serving.
A verse that a college ministry I'm involved with focuses on is Luke 10:2: “He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”
This is a beautiful metaphor of the abundant harvest of God’s Gospel, and us, the workers, being few. In our humility and open-handedness, God can work in us through the Holy Spirit to go and reap from the harvest, be a light, and usher people into the kingdom of God.
In our humility and open-handedness, God can work in us through the Holy Spirit to go and reap from the harvest, be a light, and usher people into the kingdom of God.
I hope you will take on the challenge to be a servant leader and a worker for the harvest. I believe you have the capacity to be the servant leader God wants you to be. More importantly, Jesus believes you do too.