5 Attributes of Servant Leadership
When you hear someone defined as a servant leader, what attributes are used to describe the leader? Is she strong, resilient, wise? Does she present herself well or project an air of confidence? How do you envision a servant leader?
Take a moment and make a list of 5 attributes you believe define a servant leader. After creating your list, set it aside. We’ll come back to it later.
The Model of Servant Leadership
It should not be a secret to you that Jesus Christ is the exemplary servant leader. He was the first to model godly leadership through His service to others.
Last week, I shared with you that the Bible is the greatest book on leadership ever written. We looked at the stories of Deborah, Abigail, and Dorcas, women leaders of the Bible who served with honor, humility, and altruism. Each of these women served God by placing the needs of others before themselves. They knew when to lead and when to follow.
This week we’re going to take a look at 5 attributes of servant leadership and the significance of these qualities for leaders.
As John Maxwell states,
“Servant leadership is never motivated by manipulation or self-promotion. In the end, the extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others. That’s why it is so important for leaders to be willing to serve” (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader).
5 Attributes of Servant Leaders
“So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” Psalm 78:72 (NKJV)
Servant leaders serve with integrity and honor. They do the right thing in all circumstances regardless of their fears or concerns.
Esther was a servant leader who displayed great integrity of the heart. She stepped up to do what no one else was willing to do. Esther obediently laid aside her fears and doubts to do what needed to be done knowing it was the right thing to do for her people (Esther 4:14-16).
Write down the names of servant leaders who display integrity in their positions of leadership. By each name, share one or two examples of how this person shows integrity in their leadership.
Lead with integrity.
“And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” Mark 9:35 (NKJV)
Servant leaders serve selflessly. They serve for the benefit of others, not for their own gain or benefit. When we serve selflessly, we genuinely invest in the betterment of one another.
Ruth was committed to caring for her mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth’s decision to lay down her life in Moab, where she was surrounded by her family, and to follow Naomi to Judah was a beautifully selfless act (Ruth 1:16-18).
List ways you can serve your family or community selflessly this week.
Lead with selflessness.
“With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience. Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace, being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny” Ephesians 4:2-4 (TPT).
Servant leaders serve with love. Jesus was motivated by His love for His followers. Jesus truly cared for people. In all of His actions, Jesus considered how He could serve others. Placing His love for God first and foremost created an overflow of love for every one of his followers. As leaders, we are called to love God and love others. When leaders are motivated by love, they serve from a place of love, showing acceptance and kindness to those they lead.
Mary of Bethany lived with her sister Martha. Both women welcomed Jesus into their home and were faithful disciples of Jesus. Mary, motivated by her love and devotion to Jesus, anointed His feet with a very expensive jar of perfume (John 12:1-8).
Lead with love.
Who is God calling you to serve in love? Make a list of ways you can serve this individual or group.
“So support one another. Keep building each other up as you have been doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (VOICE).
Servant leaders serve by encouraging others. They strengthen members of their team through their words of encouragement and affirmation.
Naomi, discerning that Boaz would make a wonderful husband for Ruth, encouraged Ruth to take steps to make herself available to Boaz. Although this direct approach was somewhat against the culture, Ruth trusted Naomi and was obedient to her proposal. Due to Naomi’s encouragement, both women were blessed by the union of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 3:1-6).
Write down the names of servant leaders who have encouraged you in your leadership journey. Have you reciprocated this by offering words of encouragement to others? If not, list some individuals you could encourage with your words.
Lead with encouragement.
“So it’s necessary for him to increase and for me to be diminished” John 3:30 (TPT).
Servant leaders serve by giving the glory and victory to God. They do not seek the victory and success for themselves, but with each victory, they tribute their success to God.
Deborah gave praise and glory to God because the victory was God’s. Deborah and Barak sang a song of thanksgiving and praise to God and the followers. And they had peace for forty years due to their belief and obedience (Judges 5:31).
How can you point to God this week and praise Him for your victories? Make a list of the ways God has blessed you and offer thanksgiving to Him through prayer and worship.
Lead with honor.
Jesus, The Exemplary Servant Leader
Jesus described it better than I ever could: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” Mark 10:42-44 (NIV)
Jesus modeled servant leadership and illustrated how we should lead and follow. Biblical leaders serve with integrity, selflessness, love, encouragement, and honor.
Now that you’ve read about 5 attributes of servant leadership, review the list you made at the beginning of the post. Does your list include any of the traits listed in the post? Are there any traits you feel you reflect well in your leadership? Are there any traits that you believe you may fall short in your leadership? If so, what can you do to improve in these areas and increase your leadership capacity?
Trust in Him
I hope you spend time this week searching God’s Word and asking Him to lead you in the way you should go. Spend time in reflection and share with Him your desire to lead. Whether you seek to lead your family, your children, your neighbor, or a small group, ask God to use you. Ask God to place on your heart a desire to serve and to make an impact for His glory. Trust and believe and He will give you the desires of your heart.
“Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and he will provide for you what you desire the most” Psalm 37:4 (TPT).