Servant Leadership

19 03 2006

Servant Leadership

Joshua 3:14-17 (NIV) 14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

Joshua 4:15-18 (NIV) 15 Then the LORD said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the ark of the Testimony to come up out of the Jordan.”

17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.”

18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 (NIV)  1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Leadership – so much has been written on this concept in the last several years that it almost seems redundant to write more.  However, I don’t think this concept is well understood in American culture – specifically, in the church.  Also, I don’t think many church leaders fully understand how their leadership, their position, affects the whole church.

As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, I’ve been impressed how God has given specific instructions to His leaders.  I’ve also been very impressed how those leaders didn’t follow those specific instructions.  They deviated – even if only slightly.

But, so far, Joshua is being very obedient and God is fulfilling His promises.  I believe that Joshua was an attentive learner as he was mentored under Moses.  He has fulfilled the details of God’s instructions.  That is pretty cool.  On top of that, the people – who have been purged – are following Joshua’s instructions.

The Jordan parted and as long as the priests stayed in the middle of the river, the people were able to pass through on dry land.  As soon as they exited the river – on God’s instruction through Joshua, the river reconvened.

Paul says, the leaders are servants.  I clearly see that in the actions of Joshua and the Levite priests.  They served the people by standing in the middle of the river bed.

That is my role – to serve the people.  But this is the paradox of Christ-like leadership.  Joshua gave specific commands – he knew how important it was for the people to follow the Lord’s instructions to the letter.  Yet, he wasn’t doing that to be in command – he was doing that to serve the people.

So, the people have to obey.  And whether they understand it or not, they are being served.

So, are people more likely to obey if they know I am a servant, or are they more likely to obey if they are commanded?  Can a leader do both and will people understand?

It is important for the church to realize that God is using me to lead them.  We have to be unified.  We have to be going in the same direction.  We have to be obedient to God’s leading.  However, people cannot be coerced.  They have to follow out of free choice – I understand that.  However, people are very reluctant to be led.

People also seem to be rejecting strong leadership.  I have been accused, by some, of being too strong – dictatorial even.  But I think people are basing this on perceptions, not on actuality.  I’m really not trying to control people – I just know the vision God has put on my heart and I’m very deliberate about what it takes to get there.  I don’t let too many things stand in my way.

So, do I need to slow down?  Should I wait for people to catch up?  How can I portray more of a servant’s heart?

Lord God – teach me to listen to everything that comes from you.

Teach me to be the leader you want me to be, teach me to serve You, serve the people, serve my family, and serve the community.





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