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  • Writer's pictureApril Elizabeth Finlayson

Servant Leadership

Updated: May 27

Servant Leadership is becoming a popular buzzword in professional circles. Yet, many of us don’t realize that this notion of  ‘servant leadership’ is a responsibility that applies to each one of us, no matter the hierarchical role or title we possess on our 9 to 5. One can even go so far as to say that ‘servant leadership’ is a duty baked into the fabric of what it truly means to be a human being in this earthly kingdom. So, what does it mean to be a servant leader? And, what is Servant Leadership really about? 

Investopedia puts it simply and defines servant leadership as “a leadership style and philosophy that prioritizes the growth and well-being of others.” This definition stands out from many of the others you may find in the business world, not just for its clear and concise approach, but for the wide net that it casts. This explanation does not limit the existence of Servant Leadership to a professional setting or team, instead, it expands the recipient to an all encompassing “others.” Anyone of us can prioritize the growth and well-being of others, no matter our station or circumstance, no matter the context or capacity that we find ourselves engaging in. 

Many of us have grown so accustomed to placing the onus of leadership in a realm beyond ourselves, or in a context that is reserved for ‘a select few’ that we forget that we are all called to be leaders. Leadership is not a station in life, leading is a way of being. 

You probably heard growing up “to whom much is given, much is required” while this adage is taken from the book of Luke chapter 12, this saying (or some version of it) can be found in many cultures, communities, and faith traditions. These words of wisdom are a universal truth that has stood the test of time, and for good reason. Whether you have earthly riches or your material possessions are  few, each of us has been given a portion that is our own. Every one of us has an extensive possession of unique characteristics, traits, gifts, insights and strengths that is a treasure trove of potential. Every single human being has been given much! And it is a requirement, not an option, suggestion or insinuation, but a mandate that you do much with what you have been given. 

It is with this posture that we are supposed to understand servant leadership. For every person that has been given much (and that is everyone of us) it is your duty to use what you have been given to prioritize the growth and well-being of others. 

In a world that has become so absorbed with our “rights” we have forgotten the importance of our responsibilities. Rights are our freedoms that are expected to be protected by man-made laws, while responsibilities are duties that are anchored in universal truths. Imagine a world where each of us placed a greater focus on our responsibilities, this is a world where the rights of others would be honored beyond laws and understood as a personal responsibility.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition it is understood that God created mankind in His image and likeness, and gave them dominion over earth and all that dwells within. Unfortunately over time, we have developed a perverse understanding of the word dominion and have  forgotten that true dominion is anchored more in responsibility (even though it is also a right) Dominion implies Lordship.  Does your Lord subdue, subject, and control you for His own interests? Or does He prioritize your growth and well-being? It almost goes without saying that we can confidently agree on the latter. 

Good leadership is servant leadership, and servant leadership is the true way of being for many rather than a select few. 

You are a leader. Now, go out into the world using what you were given. Whether it is a winning smile, an encouraging word, a commanding voice, a gift to cook, sing, dance or paint, whatever it is in your unique treasure trove, use these things to prioritize the growth and well-being of others.

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