Blessed Are The Meek by djniks on flickr.com

I don’t like proud people. They make me turn into a rage monster on the inside and I lose my peace. What’s ironic is that I myself can be pretty proud sometimes – just ask my wife! But moving on, in my opinion proud people with power are the worst. That’s why as leaders it’s so important to remain humble.

In ancient Jewish history there was a king called Rehoboam who was as proud as they come, and he paid dearly for it. His daddy was King Solomon, so he’d been born with a golden spoon in his mouth. Literally. Banquets, palaces, chariots, he’d been spoiled with it all. So when his time came to take the throne, he was pretty conceited, to say the least.

He did however condescend to ask his advisers how he should treat his subjects. They were wise fellows, and, to paraphrase, advised the king the following: “if you serve your people, they will be your servants forever.” Unfortunately for himself, the king was a fool – as most proud people are – and he did the opposite. He scolded his people and threatened them with torture and hard labour. In return, most of his kingdom rebelled against him, killed his slave driver, and elected their own king for themselves. Talk about losing the farm. 

So what can we do to avoid being an embarrassment like Rehoboam? Firstly, don’t be proud, and never ever think that you’re entitled to leadership. Trust me, you’ll just make people despise you. 

Secondly, don’t be ‘violent’ in the way you lead. Don’t be a bully. If history has taught us anything, it’s that leaders who use force, coercion and violence almost always come to a sticky end.

Finally, understand that what goes around comes around. If you as a leader want people to serve your vision, you need to serve them. If you make life hard for them, they’ll make life very hard for you … Rehoboam is a good case in point. But give and you’ll be given back. Help others and they will help you. Jesus said that the greatest amongst you must be the servant of all.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to be common sense to me: Servant leadership is just better.

What practical tips do you have for how to serve those you lead?


2 thoughts on “Servant Leadership

  1. Excellent points! Great reminder to remain humble in leadership… Jesus left us a hard (but good) act to follow.
    Here’s a question though – how do we maintain this humble attitude when we have to sort out problems in our teams or correct some issues? I take it being humble doesn’t mean you can’t be firm with your decisions…but not getting proud in the process can sometimes be tricky! What do you think?

  2. Yes, that’s a really good question … Being humble doesn’t mean you don’t have convictions that you stick by, especially in times of conflict. I think the crux lies in HOW you deal with conflict and competing opinions. A humble leader genuinely listens and values others’ points of view, and he or she has the organisation’s best interests at heart, which means he or she will be willing to change if it’s clear that that will move the organisation forward. But they will also stick to their guns if they know that will be best for the organisaiton. Proud leaders don’t respect or even listen to others’ opinions, and they don’t always put the organisation’s concerns above their own ego.

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