Biblical Servant Leadership

Biblical Servant Leadership

An Exploration of Leadership for the Contemporary Context
Christian Faith Perspectives in Leadership and Business

von: Steven Crowther

89,24 €

Verlag: Palgrave Macmillan
Format: PDF
Veröffentl.: 13.06.2018
ISBN/EAN: 9783319895697
Sprache: englisch

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This book explores the concepts from Scripture for Servant leadership and compare these findings with contemporary models of servant leadership. It is an examination of Christian leadership for the contemporary world in its global and increasing secular context. Leadership studies typically view leadership externally from the results. This is a good beginning but leadership needs to also view the inside of leadership in the person of the leader. Scripture is uniquely qualified in this area since its first concern is the person who leads not just in leadership behaviors. The author uses examples from both the Old and New Testament to establish a new shepherd model of leadership that moves beyond the servant mode to the mode of caring direction. This model will provide scholars and researchers as well as leaders themselves with a way of leading that overcomes negative forms of leadership which lead to failure.
Chapter 1 – The Foundation of Servant Leadership Theory

                        Abstract: The ideas and concepts for servant leadership have been around for centuries in different forms. Even when Aristotle and later Aquinas discussed leadership they pondered the concepts of virtues as an important component of human life and leadership. Other philosophers such as Plato discussed leadership but with some different ideas that became mainstream ideas for ruling and power. This focus on power carried the day in leadership thinking with concepts of leadership like in Machiavelli’s “The Prince” that endorsed a power center to leadership. Nevertheless in the 1970’s in the midst of a hotbed of leadership theory development Robert Greenleaf proposed an idea at first about the servant being the leader. This idea grew into a concept of leadership in the writings of Greenleaf that was developed and popularized in the writings of Greenleaf and later several other authors like Larry Spears. Then in the 21st century there was an explosion of literature in many areas of leadership theory and thinking. Some of these areas included virtues and even spirituality as an important component of leadership and leadership development. In this context there emerged several new ideas concerning servant leadership. Some of the foundational ideas came from Winston and Patterson. Winston gave us some new terminology for this constuct in using the word agapao for the leadership idea of love. Then Patterson developed a virtue based model for servant leadership that built upon the ideas of Greenleaf but expanded it. In her model the virtues of leadership are the central issue however; it is done in such a way that it facilitates the ability to research this theory of leadership. As a result there has been several other authors who have entered this field of research for Servant Leadership doing research in different cultures and contexts. Many scholars have worked on developing a model of servant leadership recently. In this endeavor there are some researchers who have begun to look at the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures for guidance in this search for a more developed theory of leadership. This study expands this research in looking to the Scriptures for divine perspective on Servant Leadership and other implications for leadership that can be applied in the multiple contexts of the 21st century, to the church, government, military, nonprofits, education and the world of business. The question is whether the Scriptures endorse, critique or expand the concept of servant leadership. Further the deeper question is whether the Scriptures provide a model of leadership other than servant leadership or that builds beyond this model of leadership.

            A. Servant Leadership According to Greenleaf

            B. Servant Leadership in 21st Century Literature

            C. Servant Leadership According to Patterson and Winston

            D. Servant Leadership Research

            E. The Next Steps in Leadership

Chapter 2 – Servant Leadership in Context

                        Abstract: Servant leadership has been developed and applied in the midst of a very hot economic climate and in the context of an abundance of new leadership research in general. As a result there are many new ideas to which to compare it for developing the fine nuances of the theory. However, the negative side is that it gets confused with other theories with some similarities. There has been an explosion of research and development in the area of leadership theory from the end of the 20th century which has intensified with the coming of the 21st century. Servant Leadership is one of several new and developing theories of leadership beginning with Transformational leadership theory but then moving to more current theories like Authentic and Adaptive theories. Each of these theories has its own distinction and yet there are a few connections with Servant Leadership. Especially in the context of Transformational leadership there is some confusion as to the differences between these growing theories.  However, in studying the connection between transformational and servant leadership there can be some further nuances developed in the understanding and applying of servant leadership. Transformational leadership is a theory that has been developed and refined through research in many large universities. However, Servant Leadership has been applied and researched in the business world in both for profit and nonprofit sectors as well. Greenleaf began to do his research in AT&T in the clearly for profit business world. However, it is not just here but also in government and military sectors that this model has been applied with good results. Of course, one area where Servant Leadership seems to fit well is in the context of the church and Christian ministry.  Nevertheless, it is apparent that church leaders are more often autocratic rather than servant leaders. This is an area of concern especially in the context of growing research for the effectiveness of Servant Leadership. So, this area needs further development in its connection with Jesus and His teachings since He is the ultimate leader in the church. This also raises the question of whether Jesus taught Servant Leadership or Transformational Leadership or another model of leadership. Then the question arises as to whether this way of leading can be applied in global contexts. In high authoritarian cultures the very word servant is a problem. There are some areas of the world where this is an insult to be considered a servant in any form. In addition, there are those who have been forced into servanthood or slavery and in this context servant leadership could be and is resisted. So, this asks the question of whether this model can be applied cross culturally in some of these areas where there are deep cultural resistances to the concept of servant. This model has been research and tested in some of these contexts with good results but it takes large amounts of explanation for the theory and its application. We must look for a way ahead for this issue since the principles appear to be universal.

            A. In the Context of Leadership Theory

B. In the Context of the Business World

C. In the Context of the Church World

D. In the Global Context


Chapter 3 – The Strengths of Servant Leadership

                        Abstract: Servant Leadership has several components as has been seen earlier in this study. Several of these components combine to create some unique strengths to this model of leadership. At its core Servant Leadership is driven by virtues or deeply held values in the leader. In this way servant leadership addresses the issues of ontology in the leader. The leader becomes a servant, the leader does not just attach serving behaviors. It is an issue of the soul or the person and even of their worldview or of their sense of reality. It is deeply embedded in the person. Then since this way of leading is very person oriented for the leader and focus oriented on the other person it is very personal. Yet it can be applied in large group settings as well as small ones. Aristotle discussed four virtues to become a flourishing person but Servant Leadership develops more concepts of virtues that are closer to the concepts of Jesus than to Aristotle or even Aquinas. This model looks at the connections between leader and follower as important and aims to facilitate growth in the follower first. In doing this the leader develops qualities and actions that are other oriented that be classified as ethical. Ethics then is part of this theory of leadership. Other theories consider ethics as an adjunct to effectiveness but not so with Servant Leadership.  Most leadership development plans that use different leadership theories teach the leaders how to succeed but they do not teach them how to handle this success. This is an internal issue of the person of the leader. Servant Leadership uniquely prepares the leader to handle the coming success. Servant Leadership in the senior levels of an organization has been seen to impact how others interact with each other in the organization. This impacts the culture of the organization. Servant Leadership in the higher levels of the organization can even impact the employees’ interactions with those outside of the organization. The ideas and the doings of Servant Leadership transfer into the workings of the organization. One of the areas that has not been researched as much as leadership theory is that of how to do leadership development. In this model leadership development is inherent in the model. This theory is ontological in that it impacts the person of the leader. People in an organization become who the leaders really are for good or ill. All of the teaching on transformational leadership will rarely produce a transformational leader unless there is one who becomes a transformational leader for others to follow. In Servant Leadership this is inherent in the model of leading. Servant Leadership focuses on different goals that are person centered rather than organization centered however; these goals still make for a strong model of leadership that impacts both the organization and the community. Yet, there are weaknesses in this model. One weakness would include the focus of the leader in if the leader focuses on the followers then who will drive the organization. However, it is here as in other places that the Scripture can helps us learn how to become a servant leader while driving the organization. 

            A. Values Driven Leadership

B. Effective and Ethical Leadership

C. Servant Leadership and Organization Culture

D. Servant Leadership and Leadership Development

E. The Goals of Servant Leadership

E. Servant Leadership and the Negative


Chapter 4 – Servant Leadership in the Old Testament

                        Abstract: There is much we can learn from the Old Testament Scriptures concerning Servant Leadership and its application to real situations in diverse contexts. The classic story of a servant leader is the story of Joseph. The OT shows his development from childhood through adulthood with several important stops along the way. He was sold into slavery but still managed to become a Servant Leader on different levels and in different contexts from prison to the palace of Egypt. In some senses Moses was a Servant Leader though he was in government service in leading the nation of Israel. He was a person of humility as well a person who was able to effectively delegate to others. Then Esther becomes a servant to the people of Israel and even a foreign Gentile nation based upon a position that she did not seek. In this story we see the instruction of Mordechai in teaching her to lead. There are instructions in the Old Testament text for learning to serve and lead in both positive aspects as in the instructions to Joshua and in a negative sense in the counsel given to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. However, the Old Testament provides the best example of a servant leader in that God is the ultimate leader and His leadership sets the example for others. He is seen as the shepherd with a heart for people and who is angered when the human shepherd leaders treat their followers with oppression based in selfish goals. Here is seen the essence of instruction for servant leaders as well in the rebukes given to these leaders of Israel. In addition, there are some overall pictures of Servant Leadership in different types of leaders and the way that God views them and their function. In the Old Testament Kings, priests, elders, and other government leaders are called shepherds. This the major word picture in the OT for leadership. However, this picture is nuanced by the instructions that the Lord gives to these shepherds of his people. This is a metaphor for leadership that is filled with significance for the 1st century eastern mind. Shepherds were the lowest and least desired of occupations. It was from this place of humility and lack of recognition that the leader was to serve. Then there are other pictures as well like the Messiah as the suffering servant that is picked up and developed in the New Testament. The Levites were to serve the people and the priests and the Lord at the tabernacle and later the temple in some very menial tasks yet later we find them as the teachers of the people. The prophets are servants to the Lord and they served the people as well and even kings though many times their service was rejected. There are several texts in Old Testament that give important insights for servant leadership. Some of these texts show examples of good servant leaders like Barzailli who was so good at serving that most people do not even know who he is or what he did but he came and served King David at a very vulnerable time in the King’s life. Then there is Solomon who when given the opportunity for wealth and power took wisdom to rule instead. There is also a contrast between two Kings in David and Saul in showing the difference between autocratic and servant leadership. Nevertheless, David also exhibited other forms of leadership like charismatic leadership. The most powerful picture is that of Nehemiah, a household servant who changed the world by serving the people of Israel in rebuilding Jerusalem. However, the OT gives several examples of failure in leadership and this failure repeatedly came through pride and self-focus in the leader. In addition, we see Moses fail in his leadership at one point late in his life and the Lord gives 2 separate rebukes to failed shepherds and why they failed. In this context comes the issue of leadership in the Old Testament – is it Servant Leadership or Shepherd Leadership or does it include issues from other models like Charismatic Leadership? Is there a difference between these two concepts of servant and shepherd in the Hebrew Scriptures?  From these positive and negative pictures of the OT emerge several important ideas for servant leadership including issues of humility, fear, confidence and failure. Some are positive and some are negative but these are real life dilemmas for leaders that if addressed before the disaster can bring good fruit. These attributes can be considered and developed to add strength to the model of servant leadership.

            A. Examples of Leaders in the OT

                        1. Genesis - Joseph

2. Exodus 3 and 18 – Moses

                        3. Esther 4-5 – Esther

            B. Instructions for Leaders in the Old Testament

            C. God as the Model Leader in the Old Testament

            D. Pictures of Leaders in the Old Testament

                        1. Shepherd – Kings, Priests, elders

                        2. Suffering Servant - Isaiah 52-53

                        3. Levites

                        4. The Prophets as Servants – Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah

            E. The Texts of Servant Leadership in the Old Testament

                        1. 2 Sam. 17:27-29; 19:31-40; 1 Kings 2:7 – Barzillai

                        2. 2 Chronicles 6-7 - Solomon

                        3. Nehemiah 1 – Nehemiah

                        4. 1 Samuel – David and Saul

            F. The Failure of Leadership in The Old Testament

                        1. Judges – Samson, Gideon

                        2. Kings – Jereboam, Reheboam

3. Prophets – Elisha’s Servant

4. Shepherds Who Failed Ezekiel 34, Jeremiah 23

5. The Failure of Moses

            G. Servant Leadership or Shepherd Leadership

            H. Leadership Lessons from the Old Testament

                        1. Humility and Confidence

                        2. Fear and Failure

                        3. Divine directives

Chapter 5 – Servant leadership in the Life of Jesus

                        Abstract: Jesus is the ultimate leader in that He is God come in the flesh. Therefore we can learn from Him and though He is omniscient He has chosen to teach and model certain ways of living. He gives instructions about serving to His disciples and we have the advantage of listening to these conversations that are filled with wisdom and divine directives. Many of these directives are found to be countercultural to 1st century as well as 21st century cultures and societies. In addition, at some points in these teachings they become counterintuitive as well.   In Mark 10 He teaches the disciples to become servants to all. Is this a leadership issue or a life issue or is there some connection between the two?  In Matthew 28 He teaches them how to impart this way of kingdom living to others. Then in the gospel of John He models servanthood in washing the feet of the disciples and He teaches them how to become servants to others. Finally in Luke He uses the leadership of a military leader of Rome to provide an example of how to lead. This example of Jesus as a servant leader is explained by both Peter and Paul. Peter connects Jesus leadership to that of the suffering servant in Isaiah 52 and Paul explains His leadership as a digression to servanthood and a progression to glory. Paul then exhorts the believers to follow this example in living and in leading.

            A. Instructions about Serving

                        1. Mark 10

                        2. Matthew 28

                        3. John 13, John 21

4. Luke 7

            B. Jesus as the example of Servant Leadership

                        1. 1 Peter 2

                        2. Phil 2

Chapter 6 – Leadership in the New Testament

                        Abstract: After the ministry of Jesus the church continues this ministry of servant leadership in many different settings. First there are the examples of servant leadership as found in the book of Acts. There are several heroes of the faith here along with instructions that have been preserved for us. Barnabas is the leader with the recognition and title needed for leadership in the church but when he sees Paul rise as the leader he allows Paul to take the lead in leading. Aeneas also intersects with Paul’s life and though he is afraid of Paul still serves him and brings him revelation of the new things of the Kingdom of God. Then finally we see Peter evolve from the self-focused forceful leader to the servant leader in the author of the epistles of Peter where he calls himself a fellow elder rather than the one in charge as he did in the past. These instructions use this same picture of shepherd as seen in the Old Testament but now a further picture is added for contrast in the picture of a wolf. Servant Leadership is taught in many different ways through the epistles of the New Testamnt as authored by Paul, James and John. The Romans and Corinthian correspondences give instructions for leaders both directly and indirectly about humility and the leader overcoming self-focus.  In the Prison Epistles Paul gives strong exhortations about theology, the Christian life and how to lead using several pictures like that of a Roman guard. Then Paul becomes emphatic in the Pastoral Epistles about the leader being blameless and showing good fruit through relationships. These are issues that need consideration in the context of Servant Leadership and they even extend beyond Servant Leadership. John focuses on love in leadership which is an important component of Servant Leadership and James focuses on compassion. Then there is the leader in the apocalyptic context that must lead by serving others with the message of reality, not that the world is ending but that the world is the place we live until the end and in light of that we must lead to help others and bring glory to God. However, there are other models and concepts of leadership that are taught in the text of the New Testament. Some of these models would include transformational, situational and authentic leadership. In addition, there are concepts for leadership that do not fit any present models. So what is to be done with these New Testament issues of leadership? The leadership lessons from the New Testament are broad and very profound. Many of these lessons will include a deeper understanding of issues like humility, love and compassion. Other lessons will include the way to becoming a servant that is ontological, it is part of who we are and the path is both countercultural and counterintuitive. In addition, the leader will serve people and God by bringing glory to God. The teleology of leadership is to show the real God to others and with compassion help them to fulfill the divine purpose given to them. This moves beyond Servant Leadership.

            A. Servant leadership in the book of Acts

                        1. Barnabas

                        2. Aeneas

                        3. Priscilla and Aquila

                        4. Peter as the Servant Leader

                        5. Instructions to Leaders

            B. Servant Leadership in the Epistles

                        1. Romans and Corinthians

                        2. The Prison Epistles

                        3. The Pastoral Epistles

                        4. The General Epistles

                        5. Apocalyptic Servant Leadership

            C. Other Leadership Issues and Models in the New Testament

            D. Leadership Lessons from the New Testament

Chapter 7 – Biblical Servant Leadership

                        Abstract: So what is Biblical Servant Leadership? Is it Servant Leadership that has been discussed in the models with their connections to each other but as critiqued and expanded by the teachings of Scripture? In these Biblical concepts are found not only virtues and contructs but methods of learning leadership. Jesus used the method of modeling which would include several current ideas like mentoring and action learning but it expands these with concepts about the effectiveness of the “follow me” method. There are several concepts that need attention in their connections between Servant Leadership and the teachings of Scripture. These are issues like humility, love, self-issues, fear, confidence as well as issues of ontology and how to teach Servant Leadership. Granted there are differences in some of the models of Servant Leadership however; in examining the Scriptures we have found ways to bring cohesion from a divine perspective on leadership. The way forward is to critique these models in light of the overarching teaching of Scriptures on this issue. In this place is found that Servant Leadership is a virtuous theory with several aspects of leadership that proceed from this foundation. However, the Biblical concept goes deeper to issues of character and formation. The concept of godly character becomes the root from which the virtues and other centeredness spring. In overcoming conflicts and differences there is also the issue of definitions. He who writes the definitions wins the argument. For instance love is defined in so many diverse ways and applied in some bizarre ways. Therefore, the definitions must have divine roots as found in Scripture and this must be done carefully to overcome existing biases in the researcher. How can this model be applied? It must be applied ontologically. In other words ways must be found in leadership development in this model that the person is changed in the area of the soul. Part of this change comes from spiritual formation and addressing the issues of the soul. This is very personal and individual but it can be done. Character can even be developed as leaders learn to deal well with difficulties and learn the secret of perseverance. However, the issue is whether the model as found in Scripture is Servant leadership or some other more Biblical model of leadership. The way ahead could be a more robust model that includes issues of serving but moves beyond Servant Leadership. This concept of leadership can then be applied in the business world like the original model was applied at AT&T. As Christians we can learn to be servant leaders and lead in this way in the context of the world of business with results which will bring attention to this way of leading. Then in the church this needs to become an issue of leadership. Perhaps this model will provide a way of leading that overcomes the dark side of leadership which causes many leaders to fail.

            A. Biblical Concepts for Leadership

            B. The Difference and the Cohesion in the Servant Leadership Models

            C. Moving from Concept to Application

            D. Application in the Business World

            E. Application in the Church World


Chapter 8: A Call for Biblical Leadership

                        Abstract: In the context of leadership studies there have been several examinations of Biblical leadership from the analysis of different texts of Scripture. These studies have revealed a rich fabric of leadership principles for the present issue of a Biblical model of leadership. Some of these studies have developed separate models of leadership while others have found principles for leadership and even leadership development. These studies include exegetical studies like the study from Bekker (2006) while others are longitudinal qualitative studies that include an analysis of leaders in the Biblical text like the work from Clinton (2012). In addition there are dissertations on leadership as taught by Jesus, Paul or Peter as well as works on leadership characteristics from Old Testament figures like King David. There is a great amount of insight to be gained from these existing studies. Nevertheless, there is more to be gained from viewing these studies together for insights from convergence and distinction in these examinations of Scripture. Then, as was found in this study, there is more that can be gleaned from a close examination of the text to include issues of shepherding and character. How could these principles be used in a contemporary context? Are there any organizations who are using this way of concept of leading? These are important questions of application. There are several leadership principles here that can be located in a beginning model. This model would include issues like humility, the proper use of power, developing perseverance through suffering, developing character in life situations, steward leadership as well as servant leadership concepts. This model could then be used for leadership development in these specific areas of life and leading. This way of leading could be developed over time using mentoring concepts. Many of these concepts for leadership have been used in Manna Church. This church has developed their own leadership pipeline with these issues of leadership in the heart of the training. This is one of the 100 largest and fastest growing church in the United States and was founded in the1970’s but has not undergone leadership change due to failure of the leader. Many of the leaders are trained within the context of the organization.  Then the organization works with a college in further developing these potential leaders in the areas of theology, life and leadership. The application of Biblical leadership can be done in this contemporary context though it will need to be done intentionally with careful consideration for proper development and with the understanding that in some ways it will be countercultural.


            A. Existing Research on Biblical Leadership

            B. Moving on in Biblical Leadership

            C. Application of Biblical Leadership



            Abstract: This is an opportunity for a new model of leadership that includes serving and concepts of servant leadership that is informed, critiqued and expanded by concepts of Biblical leadership.  Several models of leadership including Servant Leadership have served our organizations and our churches well. Nevertheless, there has been a dark side of leadership that seems difficult to overcome. This soft underside of leadership is found in success. When the leader succeeds she/he can develop such a self-focus that Narcissistic Leadership develops. This form of leading brings destruction to the leader, follower and the organization. Often the models of leadership do not include development in the internal areas of the person to overcome this narcissistic temptation. This issue in leadership is seen in all types of organizations from government, to business to the church. The problem is that leadership studies view leadership externally from the results. This is a good beginning but leadership needs to also view the inside of leadership in the person of the leader. Scripture is uniquely qualified in this area since its first concern is the person who leads not just in leadership behaviors. Some models have begun to address this issue recently but the Scripture gives us keen insight into this area of life and leadership. This model of leadership would include several issues that are in the servant leadership model. However, it would include other issues as well from the Old Testament shepherd model of leadership that moves beyond the servant mode to the mode of caring direction. It would also include some of the broad issues of New Testament leadership that are transformational and yet include internal issues of character development as well. This is from the principles of leadership as found in both the Old and New Testaments and forms a new model that moves past Servant Leadership to Biblical leadership. This is a model that is ethical, effective and adaptable that helps us overcome the human temptation to corruption and self-indulgence.  
Steven Crowther is President of Grace College of Divinity, USA and is involved in missions work training leaders in Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. His research interest lies in organizational leadership. He also does consulting work to help colleges with accreditation and leadership development, particularly in Latin America. 
This book explores the concepts from Scripture for Servant leadership and compare these findings with contemporary models of servant leadership. It is an examination of Christian leadership for the contemporary world in its global and increasing secular context. Leadership studies typically view leadership externally from the results. This is a good beginning but leadership needs to also view the inside of leadership in the person of the leader. Scripture is uniquely qualified in this area since its first concern is the person who leads not just in leadership behaviors. The author uses examples from both the Old and New Testament to establish a new shepherd model of leadership that moves beyond the servant mode to the mode of caring direction. This model will provide scholars and researchers as well as leaders themselves with a way of leading that overcomes negative forms of leadership which lead to failure.
Offers a study of servant leadership from the Christian perspectiveCompares contemporary models of leadership and how the model offered can be applied to the business worldViews leadership as a behavior issue (external) as well as a character issue (internal)