Inspired by a true story.
There was a young soldier, an officer, who commanded a platoon in a combat zone. Dangerous missions were run by several units every day in the zone. Many soldiers were wounded or killed completing these missions. Leadership often determined who would come home, and who would not.
There are two types of leaders in combat. Some send their troops into battle. Others leadtheir troops in. If you were a foot soldier, which leader would you respect most? Which do you think would generate the most loyalty? For which type would you most likely be willing to risk all? The answer should be obvious. Those who will to lead their troops into conflict will generate the most respect and create the most loyalty because they are willing to risk their own safety when asking others to do the same.
Our young officer was this type of leader. He viewed his role not as a superior, but as being responsible for the success and safety of the men in his unit. If each man was successful, the mission would be successful, and the chance of all returning safely would be greater.
He cared about his men, not just himself. His men cared about him. When his tour was over, he came home in one piece, a hero.
Our officer never considered those who reported to him subordinates. He considered their importance to the unit equal to his own. He chose to serve side by side with them. There was no selfish ambition. He did not lord his position over his platoon. He was a servant leader.
A decorated combat veteran put it best. “As a CO, when it comes to the day-to-day stuff, you act more as a shepherd to the guys, making sure they are okay.”
You don’t have to be a platoon leader in combat to be a servant leader. You might have a tougher assignment like single parenting a teenager. You might have an easier one like building a business. But the principles are the same in each situation.
If you don’t have a servant leader as a boss, or you are not a servant leader, then perhaps something needs to change, especially if you want to lead like a Christian. Jesus was a servant leader. He was willing to pay the ultimate price for his followers. He served them. All Christians are called to follow his example.
Servant leaders are prepared to sacrifice themselves, serve others they are responsible for, and ask no one to do something for them that they wouldn’t be willing to do for the other person. They cannot lie without feeling extreme guilt. Lying destroys trust, and without trust, the ability to lead is lost.
So the bottom line is this, whether you are leading a family, a business, a team, or a non-profit, if you are looking for a leadership role model, why not consider Jesus. His style works. It is what authentic Christians do.
(Matthew 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-45, Luke 22, Philippians 2:1-11)