Servant Leadership: Secular Philosophy or Spiritual Principles

In my previous entry, I mentioned the word serve. I stated that I would elaborate on servant leadership and how it allows for success when leading others. However, as I pondered on how to proceed with this posting my thoughts switched gears. So, I ask that you indulge me as I go on a hunt to uncover some truths.

To serve or be a servant really just means to put yourself last. You are giving up your own desires and making your purpose the same as the one you serve. This concept is not one that is new to me because it has been the backdrop of my life. I was raised to keep spiritual principles at the forefront of my life. In teachings I received as a child and young adult being a servant was and is the great goal… abandon and flee from selfish desires.

But I noticed, here recently that the concept of serving others is catching on in secular spaces. It has been my experience that in secular spaces navel gazing aspects were taught and competition was bred. So, to hear this transition in rhetoric, my ears perked. However, you have to listen closely to distinguish what is truly being said because it is being sold as Servant Leadership. In religious or spiritual spaces it is referred to as being Christ like or taking on the “fruitage of the spirit” (Gal 5:22-23). While it excites me to see these traits being pushed in a mainstream model, I am disturbed at its packing.

For those who may not have a spiritual base, they may take this model of servant leadership as mere secular philosophy. And I would not blame anyone for doing such because that is how it is being presented. Many authors and scholars are writing up articles around these traits as if they have created this model themselves. When in fact this form of leadership dates back to biblical times and is recorded in the Bible itself.

In a servant leadership model there are some cornerstone traits like empathy, integrity, humility, flexibility, resilience, and stewardship. But, I would argue that these are the same traits that are described in the Bible.

Empathy: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15

Integrity: “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3

Humility: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Col 3:12

Flexibility: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

Resilience: “So, then, because we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also throw off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Stewardship: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

These traits are ones that are often cultivated continuously. Now, you may be thinking well, I am not a religious or spiritual person. Or you may be thinking I don’t believe in Christ. So, here is my reply to that. Everyone is free to have a choice in what they believe or don’t believe. However, if you look at this write up from only a spiritual view you would be sadly mistaken because Jesus had an impact so great as a leader that time as we understand it is centered around his birth. Now, you must admit, whether you are trying to achieve a secular goal or spiritual one, the model of servant leadership is obviously profound and reward yielding.

Happy Sunday!

Reflect, Refine, & Realign~ Signing Off

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