Service: The Highest Level of Leadership
July 25, 2022
In one of my Bible study periods, the words found in 1 John 2:6 captured my attention. The verse reads, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (NKJV). The “He” in this passage, written by the apostle John, was referring to “Jesus Christ the righteous.” Long after reading this Scripture, the words kept coming back to my mind. I knew the Holy Spirit was inspiring my mind to engage in a specific activity, to walk just as Jesus walked. I realized, then, that it is not enough to say you are a Christian; instead, there must be practical evidence to support that statement.
My spirit and mind were convicted. However, I realized that to walk as Jesus walked, I needed to first have a meaningful knowledge about how Jesus walked while He was on this earth. The more I learned about the life of Jesus, the clearer it became in my mind that His life of service was strongly similar to what is defined today as servant leadership. The term was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf. He said: “The servant-leader is servant first…It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” This is exactly what Jesus did.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5-7, NIV).
As a human, Jesus practiced principles of servant leadership. He empathized with everyone. He listened, so He could understand them. He healed the sick. He used the skill of persuasion, instead of force, to show others a better way of life. Through conceptualization, He presented a clear image of heaven. He used Scripture to accurately and productively evaluate present decisions and help His followers plan ahead. He led by example. Through these principles, He developed a community of people who significantly transformed our world. What an example to follow!
By the power of God’s grace, I began to engage in the specific activity of being a servant first, instead of a leader. So, I constantly searched for opportunities to meet the needs of the poor and suffering. I was thrilled at the prospects for service when I enrolled at Case Western Reserve University Dental School. I embraced every opportunity to serve others, including my current service for humanity at our student health clinic. I have never felt more fulfilled.
As we serve our patients with Christ-like compassion and humility, the contagious love of our Master Servant, Jesus Christ, will shine through us (Matthew 5:16), and lives will be transformed—including ours!