Servant Leadership

Dennis Voskuil

READ : Matthew 20:24-28

Whoever would be great among you must be your servant. (v. 26)

When the other disciples heard that James and John were seeking positions of authority in Jesus’ coming kingdom, they were angry and more than a little jealous. Aware of the rumblings of discontent, Jesus revealed the essence of Christian leadership. He informed them that while the rulers of the Gentiles lorded over their people and acted like tyrants, this would not be so among them. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (vv. 26-28).

This is servant leadership. Rooted in self-giving love, the kind of love that sent Jesus to the cross, such leadership cuts across the grain of our culture of self-fulfillment and personal power. During recent decades the principles of servant leadership have made their way into the boardrooms of corporations and universities, through the writing of experts on leadership like Robert Greenleaf and Max De Pree. It has informed the leaders of businesses and governments, as well as religious leaders around the globe.

While servant leadership has been embraced widely as an effective style of leading people, we should remember that it is rooted in the love of Jesus Christ, who as a servant gave up his life as a ransom for a broken and sinful world.


Gracious God, may we become more like Jesus, the ultimate servant leader, who gave his life in service to others.