As servant leaders with a clear calling and vision for God’s glory to be spread to all nations, both Jesus and Paul exhibited core aspects of servant leadership. Recently, we looked at the first three similarities in their lives and ministries: calling, intimacy with God, and love. Today we continue with three more.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords said of himself, “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:28). Paul frequently spoke of humility (e.g., Acts 20:19; 2 Cor. 10:1; 11:7; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3, 8; Col. 3:12). Humility is the opposite of pride, which may be a servant leader’s greatest enemy. Humility is a dominant theme in the preaching and practice of both men.
Both manifested intense passion for God and his glory among the nations. When Jesus cleansed the temple, he quoted Isaiah 56:7 “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Luke 19:45-46). His disciples remembered, “it was written ‘zeal for your house will consume me’” (John 2:17). Paul exhorted leaders to lead “with zeal” and not be slothful in zeal but “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:8, 11).
Empowerment is about trust because it requires sharing power with others. Both Jesus and Paul invested in people as their primary strategy by aggressively entrusting others with the mission. Jesus bypassed the temptation to be enthralled with the crowds who followed him, choosing instead to prayerfully select twelve men, with an inner circle of three, to “be with him.” To these he imparted the majority of his teaching and training (e.g., Mark 3:13-20). Paul also had clear selection criteria for his missionary teams and local church leaders (e.g., Acts 15:36-40; 2 Tim. 2:2; Titus 1:5-9; 2:2-10). Both men actively involved women in their ministries (e.g., Luke 8:1-3; John 4:5-30; Acts 16:13; Rom. 16:3).* Both men trained and released other leaders by sending them out (e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:21; Acts 14:21-24; Titus 1:5). Thus they prayerfully, intentionally, and strategically risked the future of the church by empowering others.
Where do you run the greatest risk of giving into the temptation of pride?
Merriam-Webster defines “zeal” as “eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something.” To what degree does this currently reflect your pursuit of God and His glory?
When was the last time you strategically risked the future of your ministry by empowering someone else?
* Eckhard J. Schnabel, Paul the Missionary, page 251. Schnabel notes: “The circle of Paul’s coworkers included a considerable number of women. It has been estimated that 18 percent of Paul’s missionary coworkers were women.” He lists Paul’s female coworkers who shared in Paul’s work and were specifically identified with the Greek affix syn, or “with,” as Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Junia, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis (all from Rom. 16), Apphia (Philem. 2), and Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2-3).