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The Unexpected Quality of a Leader

As we think about leadership, what often comes to mind is being “in-charge;” being “followed,” “noticed,” and “looked up to” by others; having “authority;” or being “in-control.”

However, there’s a different quality required for us if we’re going to be a true leader. Jesus speaks about this unexpected quality in Matthew 23:11-12, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (See also Mark 10:42-45)

The unexpected quality is being a servant. Even Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Remember when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master have washed your feet: ye also ought to wash one another’s’ feet.” (See also Philippians 2:7)

The world’s thinking is, “If you want to be a leader, make yourself great.” But that’s not God’s thinking. God tells us that if we want to be great, we should humble ourselves and let God exalt us. Proverbs 22:4 says, “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life.”

As we seek to be leaders, our very first assignment is to learn what seems like the opposite - be a servant. Look for opportunities to humble yourself and unselfishly serve others.

Characteristics of a True Servant:

  • Knows that all assignments are actually from God.
  • Will be the first to volunteer.
  • Doesn’t need supervision.
  • Considers his assignment important.
  • Does not consider himself important.
  • Takes orders.
  • Does not desire to have authority.
  • Will do what others do not or will not do.
  • Enjoys meeting needs.
  • Doesn’t need recognition.
  • Will serve without pay (voluntarily).
  • Doesn’t seek higher status.
  • Will do more than is required.
  • Desires the one he is serving to get the credit.
  • Desires God to get the glory.
  • Does not have his own selfish ambitions.
  • Will serve anyone (even those others don’t like to serve).
  • Is willing to be treated like a servant.
  • Doesn’t care if others don’t notice what he has done.
  • Does not seek the “big” and “important” assignments.
  • Will serve with a joyful attitude.
  • Will put his whole heart into each task.


Author: David Watkins

First Published: February 3, 2012