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Five Characteristics of a Servant Leader

Five Characteristics of a Servant Leader

   Erin Jones
   30 November 2018

Billy Hornsby, the co-founder of the ARC, once said, “Great leaders are great servants.” A great leader is less concerned with how they benefit and more concerned with how they can benefit those they are leading. Great leaders, servant leaders, consume themselves with how they can serve those around them and help them step into the fullness of all God has for them.

Servant leaders are not consumed with thoughts of position or influence, they simply lead with their life, whether they have a title or not. If you’re waiting for a position, a hefty pay grade or a seat around a certain table in order to lead then perhaps you’re pursuing the wrong things.

I don’t recall Jesus ever pushing his way to the “top” or announcing his position to those around Him. He simply was a leader. He led with humility and grace, people followed because he was genuinely concerned with their well-being while maintaining integrity and breathing life into them along the way. He encouraged, he corrected, he loved and he sought to understand.

In today’s society, the word servant has grown to have a negative connotation. It usually indicates someone is being taken advantage of, like in the context of servant vs master. But, when you look at that word in a biblical context, servant is the highest seat of honor. It is the exact heart of Jesus. He is our model for leadership, He is our standard.

Here are 5 characteristics that I believe exemplify a servant leader:

1. Empathetic – A servant leader seeks to understand the challenges of those they are leading. They are willing to “step into the shoes” of those they are leading and help navigate difficult situations without being demanding or unconcerned with pressures they may be facing. While empathetic, a servant leader can help orchestrate and execute resolutions, working together to overcome challenges.

2. Keen Awareness – Having an awareness of the state of those they are leading as well as a healthy self-awareness is a must for a servant leader. Recognizing unhealthy patterns and working to correct them within themselves and those they lead is essential in growing a team, organization or ministry that will be sustainable.

Highly Relational – Building community and developing healthy relationships with the people they are leading is a priority for a servant leader. Recognizing the value of those God has entrusted to them is of the utmost importance. God’s heart is people and a servant leader understands if they take care of their people, God will take care of their purpose.

Committed to Growth – Developing people is seen as a non-negotiable for a servant leader. They are grateful for the people who invested in them and they desire to be that for others. They focus on growing themselves and those around them by gently pushing, empowering and allowing room for failures without condemnation. Servant leaders give opportunities and create space for those they lead to expand beyond where they are as they are unconcerned with gaining credit. They would prefer to see those they lead be recognized.

Healed – A servant leader is the opposite of someone bound by anything, in fact they walk in complete freedom. They recognize and accept Christ’s love and forgiveness for themselves and they desire others to experience this same level of freedom. While far from perfect, they are honest about the struggles they have overcome through Christ and will encourage others to pursue this for themselves.

Leadership is a gift, and one to be stewarded well. We will all fall short and go through seasons where we hit the mark and somewhere we miss it terribly. This is the place where God’s grace comes in to fill in the gaps. Leading others isn’t easy but if we surrender our gift of leadership to the Lord and allow Him to lead through us, there is nothing we cannot do.

Erin Jones

Erin encourages and equips our Global Ministries team incredibly well! When she's not traveling for Children's Cup, you'll most definitely find her leading and loving others around her at Soul Church. Erin and her husband, along with their two children and daughter-in-law, live in North Carolina.

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