All great leaders SERVE! James C Hunter author of, “The Servant,” said it best:
“Leadership begins with the will, which is our unique ability as human beings to align our intentions with our actions and choose our behavior. With the proper will, we can choose to love, the verb, which is about identifying and meeting the legitimate needs, not wants, of those we lead. When we meet the needs of others we will, by definition, be called upon to serve and even sacrifice. When we serve and sacrifice for others, we build authority or influence, the ‘Law of the Harvest,’ and when we build authority with people, then we have earned the right to be called leader.”
After all, does not the greatest leader who ever walked this earth share in this same philosophy? The most beautiful depiction of leadership in scripture is when Jesus humbly got on his hands and knees and conducted the traditional footwashing ceremony. “The Message” translation from John 13:12-17 is my favorite:
“So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer.”
Jesus’ illustration should fill us up with truth and conviction that, if embraced, can be quite rewarding. This profound ritual should guide us in a new direction toward the way we influence others, especially in the case of leading volunteers. Part of healthy management in ministry is guiding volunteers with mercy, with benevolence. As Christian leaders we need to exemplify true grace. Furthermore, leaders need to cast the vision and respectfully explain the mission clearly, often and creatively. We leaders need to start asking volunteers to accomplish the mission for the body of Christ, rather than demanding volunteers to perform tasks for our own purpose. We need to view volunteers as individuals and, in order to successfully accomplish the big picture, walk along their sides rather than walk over them.
In order to build loyal unpaid leaders, we need to build relationships; we need to build trust. In order to gain trust we need to lead with love. In order to lead with love, we need to realize these amazing people are treasured. Proverbs 18 states it beautifully while reminding us that a person’s words “can be life-giving water.” Volunteers want to feel needed, wanted, and appreciated as well as feel confident they’re making a difference in His kingdom. We need to give them words of affirmation.
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10
Let’s commit to view these priceless brothers and sisters as our Father views them and to treat each individual servant with depth and joy.
One by one, He cleansed their soles and as a result replenished their souls. A genuine testament that The King of Kings is truly a Leader’s Leader!
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