FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
PRINCIPLES OF SERVANT LEADERSHIP
November 5, 2016
The Bible is full of principles of servant leadership. Today we have twelve more of them.
First, serve God and God alone. “No servant can serve two masters.” (Lk 16:13a). There is another master that has taken over many Christians’ lives, and that is money. The Pharisees, who were very legalistic in observance of the law, “loved money” (Lk 16:14). They ended up openly praising God and seemingly doing good, but ended up serving themselves and being unjust to the poor. Money is a hard taskmaster, and tends to dominate the lives of people. So there cannot be two masters in the Christian’s life. “He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Lk 16:13b). Oftentimes, when push comes to shove, money wins out over God. This is why many Christians do not tithe or give other financial support for God’s work, withholding what they owe to the God and His Church. Many of them look good on the outside, even being leaders in community or servers in the parish. They overtly serve God, but are ruled by another master. “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk 16:15). So be warned: “You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Lk 16:13c).
Second, fear the Lord. Be in awe of God, for He is Creator and the Almighty. He is also Lord and Master, and so obey His commands. “Blessed the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commands.” (Ps 112:1). Be eager to live the life of the Spirit, zealously seeking His ways. And when confronted with hard teachings, do not slink away, but delight and rejoice in these.
Third, be upright. Be righteous. Avoid sin and wrongdoing. Live pure. In a world deep in darkness, be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. “Light shines through the darkness for the upright” (Ps 112:4a).
Fourth, trust in the Lord. Be steadfast in knowing that all things work for the good of those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. Know that you are in God’s hands, under His protection, receiving His care. Even in the direst of circumstances, know that He is there for you. He has the greatest plan for you, a future full of hope. So fear not. “He shall not fear an ill report; his heart is steadfast, trusting the Lord. His heart is tranquil, without fear” (Ps 112:7-8a). And even in spiritual combat, when the battle seems to be turning against you, still trust in the victory that Jesus has already won on the cross. Persevere and fight on, “till at last he looks down on his foes.” (Ps 112:8b).
Fifth, be merciful. Jesus tells us to be merciful as the Father is merciful. So be “gracious, compassionate, and righteous.” (Ps 112:4b). Be full of grace, mercy and holiness. Forgive others, especially enemies, as the Lord has forgiven you.
Sixth, be just. Justice is giving to the other person what is due. To God is due worship; to our fellow human beings is due respect and fraternal love; to the poor is due an equitable share of the world’s goods. Be agents of justice in the world. Even in business affairs, look to how you can help those in need, being especially mindful of the poor. “It is good for the man gracious in lending, who conducts his affairs with justice.” (Ps 112:5). Have a preferential option for the poor. See Christ in the least and the lost.
Seventh, look to God for your strength. You serve God and do His divine work. As such, you need His divine wisdom and supernatural strength and power. “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Phil 4:13). We have a powerful enemy and cannot defeat him by our own resources and power. Only Jesus can defeat the ancient serpent.
Eighth, be self-sufficient. “I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient.” (Phil 4:11b). This does not mean trusting in and relying on yourself. It means doing with whatever God provides, especially for His workers and missionaries. It means surviving and thriving in abundant or lean times. “I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.” (Phil 4:11-12). So do with what you have, but also accept human help and support. For many brethren who cannot be missionaries themselves, this is their way to participate in the work of the Kingdom. Be grateful to them, even if it should be they who should be grateful to you. “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity.” (Phil 4:10). Be gracious, and encourage them to continue their concern for the mission. “Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.” (Ph 4:14). And when they are able to help out, they partake of the blessings. “It is not that I am eager for the gift; rather, I am eager for the profit that accrues to your account.” (Phil 4:17). Encourage them to continue to be generous. “I am very well supplied because of what I received from you through Epaphroditus, ‘a fragrant aroma,‘ and acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” (Phil 4:18b). Assure them God is never outdone in generosity. “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19).
Ninth, use your resources and that of others for the work of the Kingdom. We need money and materiel. “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth” (Lk 16:9a). Money is just a means to a holy end. We do not keep it to ourselves but spend it for the work of the Kingdom, “so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Lk 16:9b). How we handle money is a test of our stewardship. If we keep God’s money just for our own personal well-being, then we fail. God then cannot entrust to us greater works. “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?” (Lk 16:10-11). If God cannot entrust His work to you, then how can He give you what He has destined you for, which is heaven? “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” (Lk 16:12).
Tenth, share your time, talent and treasure, especially with the poor. “Lavishly he gives to the poor” (Ps 112:9a). You are no longer your own. Whatever you are, whatever you have, all belong to God. You are to do what is pleasing to God. And what truly pleases Jesus is when we love and care for the least of his brothers.
Eleventh, always be grateful to God, for everything. You are the beneficiary of His being rich in mercy. You owe Him your very life, and now He gives you an opportunity to do something for Him. His grace is overflowing. “I have received full payment and I abound.” (Phil 4:18a). Look not to human gratitude or recognition but only to God’s approval.
Twelfth, pass on the legacy. Let not the work end with you. Look to others and especially to the next generations, including your children and your children’s children. Know that the work of the Kingdom is until the end of time, until the Lord returns once again. Let the blessings flow through the generations, as you raise holy warriors. “His descendants shall be mighty in the land, a generation of the upright will be blessed.” (Ps 112:2). This is your everlasting legacy, as “his righteousness shall endure forever” (Ps 112:9b).
There you are, servant leaders who are holy warriors. What a joy and privilege it is to be one. You will be richly provided for (not necessarily with dishonest mammon). “Wealth and riches shall be in his house; his righteousness shall endure forever.” (Ps 112:3). You will always stand fast, on the rock that is Christ. “For he shall never be shaken; his righteousness shall be remembered forever.” (Ps 112:6). You will live with vitality and honor. “His righteousness shall endure forever; his horn shall be exalted in honor.” (Ps 112:9b-c).
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