Leadership is vital and significant. There is no doubt about it.
Think about all of the amazing things that have been accomplished because a leader was willing to dream, cast vision and lead others to a preferred destination.
Many have set out on a quest to “grow” in their leadership. We spend time reading books, learning from mentors, going to conferences to be equipped to lead with greater effectiveness. I am a fan and a product of all of the above.
But leadership is not just about climbing a ladder of positional power. Often when we think about growth in leadership, or becoming a “stronger leader” we see ourselves moving up a ladder. Along the way there is increased authority and responsibility. There is increased influence and what we would often see as “perks”.
The bible teaches us something different about the Ladder of Leadership.
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him”
– 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Leadership is always service.[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]If we outgrow our ability to serve, we forfeit our credibility to lead.[/quote]
In Philippians 2 we see Jesus model of the leadership ladder. It wasn’t about going up – it was about coming down to serve. Throughout the gospels Jesus not only reminded us, but also modeled for us that the greatest among us would be servants (see Matthew 23:11, Luke 22:26).
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
– Philippians 2:3-11
The thoughts that Paul shares in Philippians would have been completely countercultural to the way of thinking about greatness in Roman culture (and it is absolutely different than how we think about it in Western and American Culture). Leadership was about climbing up the ladder. It was about how many people would be “under” you. Paul points out that Jesus willingly took on the form of a servant. Servants and slaves of Paul’s time didn’t have the same rights and privileges as those who were “higher up”.
To think that Jesus was willing to set aside His divine rights to serve humanity is amazing.
Paul encourages us to have the same attitude in ourselves.[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Leader, which direction do you find yourself climbing on the ladder?[/quote]
Jesus’ model of leadership might be calling us to a different direction.