“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Monday, 26 April 2021
“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This week, drawing on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, I am going to reflect on leadership – and leadership as a calling. It always strikes me that leadership literature has become an industry in itself – I am loathe to call it a ‘cottage industry’ because the sheer volume suggests mass production!
It also suggests that in our day, that there is a leadership deficit in society (including the religious community).
Mark’s text (and the Good Shepherd text in John) hints at Jesus’ model of leadership, summed up by Robert Greenleaf as ‘servant leadership’. This is a mindset that emphasises the role of service – the leader of all as the servant of all: “I serve because I lead” and “I lead because I serve”. On a psychological level, it is a corrective to the temptation to egotism, the obsession with self, including the idea that the leader is all-powerful, all-knowing and exists to command others to do things. Though they know they have power, though they have valuable insights in their field, they see power as something to be shared and insight as something that can contribute – together with insights of others – to the greater good.
Servant leaders lead by doing, by example.
In the same way, servant leaders see their work as a vocation of service and adding value – value to those they lead and all stakeholders, not least their business clients. At their best, they see leadership as a way of ‘giving back’ value to the world.
Ask yourself the following questions. First, does this model of leadership seem to fit into the leaders – in society, in business, politics and the Church – you know? If not, what model of leadership do these figures present? Finally, if you are more sympathetic to servant leadership, why do you think these alternative types of leaders are allowed to survive and seemingly thrive?
And what kind of leader are you?