FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP (Part 38)
SURVIVING AND THRIVING
September 13, 2013
On the first stage of my Pilgrim’s Walk at the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James), I had some thoughts on servant leadership, which I share with my dear servant leaders. I entitle this as “How to Survive as a Servant Leader, and Even Thrive.”
Here are 7 basic principles.
One, do not be onion-skinned (in Pilipino, tampuhin). You will not always get what you want, brethren will not necessarily agree with what you believe to be right, you might even be opposed and at times maligned. This is because there are those who think they know better than you, perhaps sincerely. You may be disappointed, frustrated, upset, even tempted to give up. Don’t. Continue to do what you believe to be right. Endure and persevere.
Two, when you are frustrated at the way leaders behave, realize that everyone still has a long way to go, even top leaders (including you). I have encountered top leaders who have done some pretty bad things–committing adultery with a female community leader, separating from his wife, stealing tithes, lying blatantly, committing character assassination on other leaders, plotting against the leadership, etc. Grave sins may be committed by leaders you look up too. When these happen, do not allow this to bring you down. Your focus should always be on Christ, who never disappoints.
Three, Jesus came precisely for sinners, and so he still yearns to bring back those who betray him and his work. In fact, Jesus wants to still bring them to holiness. So if Jesus does not give up on sinners, then you should never give up on anyone. Just continue to do what is right. Do not assault these sinners in turn, or even just ignore them. Continue to reach out to them, and pray that their time of true conversion will come.
Four, there will be times when even you will have to be the one to give in, even when you believe yourself to be right, for the sake of peace and unity in the body. This is because the other side does not want to give in, despite dialogue and your reaching out. Even Moses permitted divorce due to the hardness of the people’s hearts. Of course we should never agree to settling on what is sinful, but we can forgo and forbear the wrong that brethren do (at least for the moment), if insisting on what is right will only result in greater conflict. You may even be the one oppressed but you can accept it humbly and meekly. Remember, when you suffer insult and maligning and persecution on account of the good you do for the Lord, then, even when you are the one aggrieved, you are actually the one blessed! Leap for joy!
Five, never look to human acclaim. Yes we need affirmation and encouragement. Well, our brethren are supposed to give us that. But you, be not the one to seek it or even allow your service to be determined by it. If you are being aggrieved and feel low, look to Jesus and only Jesus. Cry your heart out to him. Aside from receiving grace and strength from him (because Jesus does want to strengthen his servant leaders), you will be entering more deeply in a relationship with him, in a way that cannot happen except by affliction (consider Job). In fact, know this reality: if Jesus wants to purify you and make you grow in greater maturity, he actually allows you to be afflicted. Jesus thinks you are special!
Six, so when, in the weakness of your flesh, you are ready to say, “I don’t need this,” I say to you, “Yes you do.” When you are ready to say, “I quit,” I say to you, “No you should not.” Though you serve your brethren, you do so because you are serving Jesus. When your brethren do not appreciate you or even malign you (assuming you are doing right), go to Jesus and ask him if he approves of you. It is only his opinion that ultimately matters! You signed on to serve him, and quitting prevents you from serving him in the way that he called you. Who then did you get back at–your opponents or the Lord?
Seven, always be attentive to Jesus–what he is telling you, where he is sending you, how he wants you to act. For a servant leader, this means a life of intense prayer. Walking along the camino, I missed a turn and continued on the road I was on. But my guardian angel must have prodded me to look back, and see some other pilgrims turning to the pathway. Interestingly, the road I was on was wide and paved, while the pathway was narrow and stony. Seems like secular versus spiritual life, doesn’t it. Without our even noticing it, the world and the flesh and the devil are conspiring to lead us astray. Only an intent focus on Jesus, being continually in his presence, praying without ceasing, can keep us on the right path.
May your own spiritual walk bring you ever closer to Jesus, as you as servant leaders strive to bring others ever closer to him.
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