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Pride and Leading as a Servant

Posted by on January 18, 2015

Google defines pride as:

“a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.“

Most of us are proud, or want to be proud of who we are. In practice this usually takes on one of two flavors; either we desire God to be proud of what we’ve done with what He’s given us or we long for that deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from our achievements.  The difference between these two is the object of our satisfaction: will I be satisfied by God or will I be satisfied by my achievements?  Realizing this dichotomy is the beginning of transformation.  Once we decide we will draw our satisfaction from God, it is easier to see that we must serve as leaders, for this is the example that Jesus left us.  We all need recognition, the question is whether we need that recognition from God or from the world around us.  The answer to this question will depend on where we draw our satisfaction from.  If we desire our recognition from God we will flourish as servant leaders, but if we desire our recognition from the world around us we will be stifled as servant leaders because the world often does not appreciate quiet acts of sacrifice that are predominant in servant leadership.  In the same manner, if our desire is for kingdom advancement, we should have a deeper calling to lead through serving.  If our desire is centered around career advancement it will be harder to practice servant leadership.  The fact is, in most leadership and management careers today perceived strength is a requirement.  I say perceived strength because we as Christ followers often define strength differently from the world.  As Christ followers we subscribe to the meek inheriting the earth, turning the other cheek and not lording over those we lead.  As worldly leaders we are taught that true strength is making decision, directing others and having our initiatives accomplished.

Our approach to this tension is the true sign of where our hearts are.  The myopic view derived from focusing on our careers causes us to be overly critical of others and think too much of ourselves.  Assuming we always have the best way to do something and others don’t shows a lack of humility, ignorance for the broader picture and disregard for the worth of others.  This is not the way a Christ follower should lead, this is not servant leadership.  As servant leaders we need to have our minds set on eternity.  When we set our minds on eternity, the things of God take on significant meaning and the things of this world pale in comparison.  Our careers are finite, our frustrations are finite and the work we have to do on this earth is finite.  Who we become in spirit is infinite, God’s satisfaction with us is infinite and our self-worth as members in Christ is infinite.  If we believe these things, then our actions should reflect those beliefs;  divine appointments with others we will be with for eternity take on significant priority, and living a life in God’s design takes on a new importance.  In practice this should start with humility. Humility is the antidote to the pride problem.  If we are humble, we assume God knows more than we do and we follow his commandments.  If we are humble, we assume God loves and values those around us and we should do the same.  When we are humble, we know that we are truly only stewards of all that we have and do and what we accomplish should be what God wants us to accomplish more that what we want to accomplish.  When we assume this attitude we will realize that if we are slave to busyness, we have more business than God intended for us.  Could it be that our stress at work is from us pursuing our own thing instead of Gods will?  The most practical step we can take as servant leaders who follow Christ is to actually obey God.  One of the ten commandments (notice these are not the 10 recommendations)  is to observe a sabbath.  I have noticed this is by far the most disregarded of the 10 commandments, especially by those who are leading.  How is it that we loathe the idea of breaking the adultery or murder commandment, yet often encourage the breaking of the sabbath commandment?  We encourage those we influence to break the sabbath commandment every time we break it, our actions speak much louder than our words.  I would submit that one practical and effective way to immediately become a better servant leader is to begin observing a sabbath every week.  When Jesus talked about the Sabbath, he never said we should not observe it, he was telling us we missed the point of the sabbath.  “The sabbath was created for man, not man for the sabbath” Mark 2:27.  The problem was and is not the sabbath, the problem is us. We try to turn the sabbath into a discipline, a habit instead of a heart reaction of gratitude and love for God.  We are intended to keep one day holy, to have one day we devote to healthy relationship with God and others.  Following this design for our life should become a foundation for those of us who aspire to be servant leaders.

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