I have a simple question for you today. As you sit on the shoulders of someone, trying to get a better look at what’s ahead, which action do you think will be more beneficial; pushing down on the shoulders you are sitting on, or trying to find a way for those shoulders to be lifted higher?

Simple answer, isn’t it. So why is it that leaders seem to make a habit of tearing others down just so that they can move up? Now, the world is starting to get wise to the pitfalls of such a leadership attitude; and now you hear of a new model called ‘servant leadership’. But as they say, a tiger never loses its stripes; nor a leopard, its spots. So when it comes to the world, servant leadership has evolved to become merely a case of being a leader of the servants, making the one-eyed man king in the land of the blind.

But that’s not how things are supposed to be. Jesus gave us a model of leadership to which Paul gave a good commentary. So let us see what it means to truly model after our servant King and let Him change the way we lead others.

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” Philippians 2:5-8 [MSG]

It’s true, isn’t it, what Paul said. That is exactly what Jesus did. He humbled Himself, even to the point of death on the cross, for us. And why did He do that?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17

So, beloved, first things first. Do you love those you lead?

It is a pertinent question, isn’t it? Do you love those you lead? Do their lives matter to you? Do their futures matter to you? Or are they merely a means to an end for you? Do you seek merely to profit from their work, and give them a fair wage and assessment just so you will not get into trouble with the authorities? For this is the fundamental question that we should ask ourselves when we take on a team. And the answer to those questions must always be that their lives matter; each and every one of their futures matter. Because to Jesus, you matter.

Now, when their lives matter, then you can fulfill the second part of Jesus’ leadership model, stop condemning them. This goes beyond just the use of harsh words or the setting of tough performance indicators. This requires a paradigm shift in how we think about our team. We need to stop thinking that certain people are only good for certain tasks; and because some will never rise to the occasion, they should never be given larger portfolios. If we stereotype members of our team, that is tantamount to condemning them to our predestined place.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize that there will be limits to what those in our care can do. But instead of thinking how best we can use what they have, we should be asking how we can develop the areas which we know they are lacking in; for our Father never accepted us to be merely weak sinners and left us be after saving us. Not at all. Remember how He tells us,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 [NIV]

And why does He have plans?

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

So that is why

“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

Yes, we cannot work in our charges to will and to do good work. But if we believe that they, like us, are also created in Christ for good works which God has prepared beforehand that they should walk in them, could we not make plans to enable and equip them so that they may prosper and have a future?

So how then shall we be good leaders who leave a good testimony for Christ?

“Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2:2-4 [MSG]

That’s right. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. And when you do this, will those around you not be moved by your sincerity and reciprocate? When you do this are you not lifting the very shoulders upon which you rest? And when those shoulders get raised, will you not be raised as well?

For indeed Jesus’ example confirms it through God’s actions.

“Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 [MSG]

Beloved, leadership is a sacred appointment. Whether you are leading your family, your classroom, your department, your company or your church, we should never disappoint the one who ordained us into that position,

“For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Romans 13:1

And isn’t it wonderful that our Father does not appoint us without giving us an example after which to model? So follow Jesus’ example. Remember that He after

“…knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:3-5

Each and every one of us matter to Him. We were all created for good works. He has plans to prosper us and give us a future. So as we lead, let us be mindful of just how and how much we are loved, and be a conduit for that love to flow to the lives which we have been privileged to be given the right to influence.

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