Serving Because He Served

March 27, 2020

By: Ashlee Bading 

My mentor recently asked me, “Don’t you think serving is leading?” I replied to this with an obvious, “well yaa,” but the more I thought about it, the more confused I became. 

As someone who is currently in a developing position, serving has become a verb with which I am well acquainted. The act of serving, if not held in the right mindset, can lead to feelings that one is lesser than or even thoughts of unimportance. Everyone, I would assume, likes to feel as if they have value, and I know we all want to feel important. Simultaneously, as I develop, I am called to lead. Sometimes I don’t necessarily “feel” like a leader, because when I think of leadership, I often think of the person in charge or the one calling the shots. Maybe it’s a distorted view of leadership that makes it so hard for us to view ourselves as leaders. Our perception of the role could look unreachable, unattainable, or even undesirable. It’s all quite confusing. 

You could discuss for hours what leadership is and, separately, what it means to serve. Rarely, in a world focused on power and status, would you put the two together. But as followers of Jesus,  we combine the words “servant” and “leader” together into “servant leadership” and, somehow, He makes sense of it all. How is this possible? Why does this make sense? The concept goes against all logical thought; then again, Jesus did the same.

God incarnate, born into a manger (Matthew 1.21-23). Illogical. 

The King of Kings, washed the feet of the men that served Him (John 13.12-17). Illogical. 

The Creator of the Universe, chose the gruesome act of crucifixion to redeem His creation (John 3.17). Illogical. 

All throughout Scripture, servant leadership is what we are shown. How then, do we find logic in the illogical? How do we find leadership in service? Well, the answer is a God who comes down, who lives with his people (John 1.14). It shows us that the best way to lead is alongside one another, sacrificing our status or right for others (Luke 22.26). The answer is a King that washes the feet of his own followers, because He cares deeply for His children (John 13.12-17). It shows us to, in love, regard others more important than ourselves (Philippians 2.3). The answer is a Savior who takes the sin of the world on his own shoulders. It shows us that what is best for everyone is not always the easiest or the most painless option for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5.21).

I believe a servant leader is not built by his or her words, but by their actions. Jesus led with wisdom, yes, but His life is marked by actions. He was and is the ultimate servant leader. He was the one person in existence who didn’t have to serve, who had all the power and authority on Heaven and Earth. HE was the one who laid down his life as the ultimate act of service. If we are going to model our lives after Christ, this is what we must do: We must exist as servant leaders that lay down our lives for the sake of serving and loving Christ’s church. Each one of us has the opportunity to look at serving as a way to glorify God. If we think for one moment that our service is not leadership, we needn’t look any further than Christ himself.