Does worldly types of leadership transfer over into Biblical leadership? Does Biblical leadership transfer over into worldly leadership? Coming from a military background and employed thirty years in a paramilitary type of command structure, I can answer it this way; worldly styles of leadership do not always transfer over but Biblical leadership will always transfer over.
Let’s look at the worldly types first:
An autocratic or authoritarian leader imposes policies and procedures, sets expectations and defines outcomes. This is basically a boss that has full control of their team and makes all of the decisions with little input from anyone else. (1) This type of leadership has little place in the church.
Also known as democratic leadership, participative leadership allows everyone on the team to get involved and work together to make important decisions. While everyone’s input is encouraged, it’s the leader who will have the final say in the decision-making process. (1) This type of leadership is practiced among church with “voting” members. In this case, most of the time, the body rules.
Also known as “laissez-faire leadership”, delegative leadership is a hands-off approach that allows team members to use their own initiative to make decisions. There are similarities to participative leadership here, in that employees are valued for their opinions and decisions are made somewhat collectively. (1) This type of leadership places value in the gifts God has blessed each member with and while free to exercise their gifts, the leaders assemble the team so as to take full advantage of each gift to the glory of God. In this case the leader is leading but using each member as they have been gifted.
Bureaucratic leadership puts the needs of the company first and relies on stringent rules being in place for all team members to follow. This is common in long-established industries where rules have been laid out by predecessors. (1) This type of leadership is generally associated with church denominations that are not autonomous churches but have a hierarchy that dictates nearly every aspect of church functioning, including salvation which becomes a rite of passage and not a personal calling and decision. Each leader is bound to the “rules” established by the hierarchy and therefore “rules” in the same manner. In this case the rules rule.
Servant leadership places the value of the team ahead of the individual. As such, a servant leader is someone who can shed personal agendas and whose main goal is for their team (and the company) to thrive. Servant leaders do everything they can to serve their team and ensure that everyone is happy and fulfilled. (1) In this case it is a higher authority or purpose that is the central focus.
In all other forms of leadership, the central focus is on the leader or the system except, servant leadership. Servant leadership is what Jesus modeled in His life here on earth. True Biblical leadership is Jesus. How did Jesus lead and how does that transfer over into other arenas?
Jesus, in bodily form was a man under the authority of God the Father yet had the freedom to choose His own manner of leadership. Jesus chose to be the ultimate “servant leader” in giving His life a ransom for many. But what about the day to day leading?
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. 45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Jesus proved servant leadership in His day-to-day activities recorded in the Gospels.
Principle #1 Minister. (2)
Thayer’s Dictionary describes it as “to be a servant, attendant, domestic; to serve, wait upon;” Jesus took the form of a servant. Effective leaders are able to discern the needs of those under them, they understand by being walking in their midst as Jesus did.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Principle #2 Have the Mind of Christ (2)
We have jobs or missions to accomplish while we’re here on earth, worldly and spiritually. We can have the mind of Christ in all aspects. What is the mind of Christ?
Philippians 2:3-5 NASB95
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.
Imagine, the God and creator of everything would consider me more important than Himself. It’s one of those concepts that blows my mind, that Jesus thought so much about me that He gave Himself for me, even if I was the only human on the planet, Jesus would’ve still done that. He didn’t look out for His own personal interests but my interest. If a godly leader holds the interests of his people higher than his own, he will no doubt find a way to get the best out of them because of what was put in them. Perhaps this is why Oswald Chambers titled his daily devotional “My Utmost for His Highest”. Oswald’s desire was to give His utmost simply because Jesus gave His utmost.
Principle #3 Wash Dirty Feet (2)
John 13:13-14 NASB95
13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Jesus’ attitude was this, he wouldn’t have someone do something that He hasn’t done or was willing to do. Is our motivation to serve or is it to help people. The disciples feet were dirty, from wearing sandals walking the dusty roads of that day. It was customary for a servant to wash the traveler’s feet upon entering a home. There was the need for a servant to do a menial task, Jesus filled that role. There is a motive question here, Jesus could have ordered a servant to do it, or He could have demanded it be done for Him. He saw a need for those under Him and He filled that need as the leader. I can serve without the right motivation but if I really want to help people as Jesus did, then will I serve with the right motivation. Jesus’ motivation was to make disciples to lead as He was leading. He was changing their lives by investing in them in the form of a servant.
Let us model our leadership, both worldly and spiritual roles like Christ, in servant leadership.
(2) Outline for Servant Leadership from “Biblical Leadership” Ken Collier and Matt Williams