While I was a youth leader at a church I attended in Portland Oregon I learned a valuable lesson about servant leadership. The church did not have an official building so they rented a local High School for the services. Every Wednesday night a hand full of people would set up and then tear down the equipment.
One such night I was scheduled to speak. Before the services I was in the bathroom thinking about the night and the message I was going to deliver. One of my best friends who was the worship leader entered the bathroom and we started talking. While we were talking he used the bathroom and then started to pick up the trash and used paper towels from the floor (before washing his hands). Then he said he needed to go so he could finish setting up for worship.
When he left my first thought was that the High School had janitors who cleaned the bathrooms and seeing the condition of the bathroom I could tell they had not cleaned it yet. So why should anyone else pick up the garbage. After thinking about it for a while I had a humbling realization that that’s what a servant leader would have done.
Both myself and friend where going to be in the “spot light” that night. However, through my friend’s actions he reminded me about the importance of being a servant leader. A servant leader sees what should or needs to be done and then does it, even if it’s not their responsibility to do it.
Becoming a servant leader requires being intentional and humble:
Intentional- This means you are looking for ways to serve others and your surroundings. It might include picking up trash, buying coffee for your boss or co-worker, giving money to someone who needs it, or volunteering. Small acts of servant-hood bring value to the people around you.
Humble- At the foundation of servant leadership is humility. It takes humility to put aside personal needs and to serve others and our surroundings. It would be wise to remember the words of Joseph E. Rogers, “A man who is at the top is a man who has the habit of getting to the bottom.” Being a humble servant leader does not mean you are weak, it just means you care and value others.
I’m on the never ending journey of being a servant leader. I hope you join me in being and becoming a better servant leader.
Questions: Do you have a story you can share about a time you learned the importance of being a servant leader? How are you becoming a better servant leader?