Great as an elephant, least as an ant...

Continuing from yesterday

Here are two creatures side by side: one of the world’s largest creatures and one of the world’s smallest. The elephant, even in all his great size and mighty strength is still meek in the hands of man doing his bidding and serving his master. The ant serves his whole life never stopping to think if his own life is more important than his brothers’ lives, he gives it freely to protect them and his queen. The ant, unlike most creatures of the earth, can carry up to 50 times its own weight. So many things we can learn from the elephant and the ant one being that serving others is a noble way of life.
One of the motivational spiritual gifts Paul talks about in Romans 12 is the administrator or organizer. Jesus was the greatest of these and exhibited a tremendous ability to organize and lead through all these characteristics delineated by Greenleaf. It is through Jesus’ teaching that we understand how great it is to be a servant leader. Last week we talked about Greenleaf’s first five characteristics of servant leadership. Today, we’ll consider the other five characteristics from the biblical perspective.

6. Conceptualization: Being able to see the big picture is a gift. People who can back up and see what a huge project should look like when it is finished has this gift, much like Nehemiah had when handing King Artaxerxes his wine cup. Artaxerxes asked him, “What are you so sad-faced, Nehemiah?” The king’s servant had prayed hard before speaking then told him about Jerusalem’s walls in ruins and the crouching enemies. Nehemiah was 700 miles away, but he could see the result of rebuilt walls with the authority of the reigning king who financed the whole project. Read more…

7. Foresight: Spears (2004) points out “Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant-leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future. It is also deeply rooted within the intuitive mind” (p. 9). We can see how Jesus exhibits this attribute so many times in his teachings one being from the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them..

8. Stewardship: This attribute has been defined as holding something in trust for another. Jesus taught about it in several parables both from a financial perspective (the servants being given one talent, two talents, and five talents), and from a people perspective with His continued dictum to love one another. What we do with what we are given by God determines how well we serve Him. Jesus reminded His disciples, “What you do for the least of these, you are doing to Me.” Treating employees, co-workers, and bosses with respect and love is crucial whether or not they are believers. “Others will see Me through your love for one another,” Jesus said. (John 13:35).

9. Commitment to the growth of people: How much this is like Jesus. He chose His disciples, and He taught them for three and a half years so they might receive the Holy Spirit and spread the Good News by following the Great Commission. Spears (2004) points out “Servant-leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers” (p. 9). This directly relates to stewardship, but also is an attribute intrinsic to the good leader. The goal of a parent is to train up her child in the way of the Lord and when he is old he will not depart from it. Good leaders train more good leaders, and guide workers to do great things.

10. Building community: The sense of community has been defined as “part of readily available, mutually supportive network of relationships on which one can depend … characterized by feelings of belongingness, interdependence, being needed, and identification with some common overarching values; and it counters loneliness and social isolation; and it is determined by shared emotional connections, integration and fulfillment of needs.” It is also characterized by a sense of contribution which Jesus has instilled within each Christian, just as He did in His disciples. “On this Rock I will build My church!” The declarative statement shows how Jesus is working to build the community. “We are joint heirs with Christ.” Our sense of belonging is depicted as not only God’s children, but as joint heirs of Heaven’s great riches. The servant leader will make sure each person feels connected through a sense of purpose and the mutually supportive network of relationships. The more healthy the network, the least likely a demonic or satanic attack will puncture through to the heart of the community and destroy it.

Servant leadership is a growing concept in the business world. While the arrogant would deem servant leader an oxy-moron, the wise see it as the only way to lead effectively. We are not like ants that are genetically programmed to perform one task; we are more like elephants in that we can be trained for different tasks. How much more wonderful it is that we have a Servant Leader in Christ Jesus who bestowed upon us the Holy Spirit who gives us our motivations to serve God without burnout and with great love for one another.

Spears, Larry C. "Practicing Servant-Leadership" Leader to Leader. 34 (Fall 2004)7-11.
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