Leadership is a hot topic today. People attend leadership conferences, listen to podcasts on the topic, and read articles with quick tips on becoming a better leader. And yet, good leaders are few and far between. Yes, there are many decent leaders who know how to keep the boat afloat and maybe even inspire their followers here and there.
What’s missing are leaders who have a genuine desire to serve, even if they personally gain nothing from it. We can all think of historic leaders who changed the world through servant leadership. Martin Luther King Junior, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Gahandi, John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth. What do these leaders have in common? They lived to serve and not to be served. They were also killed for it.
Passionately and selflessly giving your life to others calls on aggression and evil. You wouldn’t think it would, but that’s just how the world works. Humanity is fallen and that’s just one of the awful side effects.
Are leaders afraid of the consequences that come with laying down one’s life for the sake of others? Maybe. It’s a costly way to live. It’s a vulnerable way to live. It’s a counterculture way to live — and it always has been.
Standing up as a selfless leader might not be the safest choice, nor the most popular way to conduct your life, but it’s the way to use love as an agent of change in the lives of individuals. Servant leaders don’t fight nameless, heartless institutions. They go straight to the heart of living, breathing individual human beings, and they promote messages that inspire selfless love, hope and action.
Servant leaders demonstrate the kind of love that puts the needs and stories of others first. Love transcends politics, sexuality and the physical world at large. True love, the kind our world is so sorely missing, is patient, kind, and humble. It does not envy or boast. It is not proud. It honors others. It is not self-seeking, easily angered or a record-keeper of wrong doings. It does not delight in evil. It rejoices in truth. It protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres — always. Love never fails.
If you want to be a great leader, you must first die to yourself. Leadership is never ever about you. Really, though. It’s not about you. It’s about those you’re serving.