By Scott Vair | President Recently I traveled to Haiti and participated in a two-day training conference for World Orphans church partners, including their pastors and OVC (Orphan and Vulnerable Child) teams. I started our time together with a devotional on servant leadership.

I explained that I want my leadership at World Orphans to be characterized by servant leadership; I want to be known as a servant leader in my church; I want to be remembered as a father that modeled servant leadership for his children.

So, I asked, “What is servant leadership? And when I say servant leadership, what comes to mind?”

Answers included:

  • Serving first – leading second
  • Serving those we lead instead of expecting those we lead to serve us
  • Caring for those we lead
  • Loving those we lead

The pastors and leaders gave examples of characteristics a servant leader possesses:

  • Humble
  • Caring
  • Helpful
  • Loving
  • Joyful
  • Peaceful
  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Gentle
  • Faithful
  • Self-controlled

Then we looked at what scripture has to say about servant leadership:

  • “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
  • Jesus washed his disciples feet and then said to them, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:15).
  • “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7).

Jesus is the example of servant leadership.

Pastor Jack Miller in his book, The Heart of Servant Leader, writes beautifully about servant leadership.

Paraphrasing, he says that in order for us to be servant leaders we must have a deep understanding of the gospel. We have to admit we are desperate sinners in constant need of grace. He says we must live a life of vital faith and humility, instead of pride and self-reliance keeping us from having a significant part in the work of Christ.

Miller notes that we must model repentance, saying that repentance is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience but a whole way of life. Miller does not think repentance was optional in the life of a Christian leader. He also points out that we are not to spend all our time thinking about our sins; rather, repentance drives us to a deeper reliance on Christ and his work on our behalf at the cross.

And finally, Miller insists that a servant leader is known by his or her commitment to prayer. As leaders, we are connected to Christ through prayer. Like repentance, prayer is a whole way of living. Pray, pray, and pray some more.

We concluded our time together confessing our desire to be biblical servant leaders, praying that our lives would be marked by:

  • A deep understanding of the Gospel
  • Vital faith and humility
  • Repentance
  • Prayer

May it be so!