Leadership is influence. Any person who has had a significant influence on those around them has been in some sort of leadership position. Take the president of the United States, for instance. He has is in a large leadership people, being the president over a large nation, and therefore he is a very influential leader. On the other hand, Adolf Hitler also had a great deal of influence on those in his country. So was he a leader? A very corrupt one, but yes. Leadership is influence any way that you twist it. But what separates a great leader from an Adolf Hitler is the motives behind that influence. Are you influencing those around you for the good of mankind or for the kingdom of God? Or are you influencing those around you to manipulate them to fit in to the mold of your own personal agenda? This is the main difference between a servant leader and the type of leader that today’s culture teaches us to be.
Somewhere along the line in our culture’s history, it became more important to have the skills to get what you want rather than to maintain your integrity as a leader. One of the most important skills they teach you to have is the ability to manipulate others into jumping on board with your vision or agenda. Now, they do not phrase it this way, but when you put all “cuteness” and politically correct language aside, it is the message that they are teaching. But Jesus Christ gave us an amazing example of what it meant to be a servant first, and then through that servitude, allow his influence to effect others in a positive way. Doing this is an expression of love, and in my opinion we can use Jesus life to guide us into become Godly leaders who understand the importance of fulfilling Luke 9:23 where Jesus states, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and pick up their cross daily and follow me.” (NIV)
Jesus understood something that many people don’t. In order to be an effective leader, you must be a servant first. Too often leaders of today try to implement servanthood into their leadership style. They take the time now and then to serve others in order to gain the respect of those who follow them. But at the end of the day, their number one priority was leading. The example that Jesus gave us was the opposite of this. He chose to be a servant first. A true servant leader leads from the overflow of their servant-hood. They understand that they are a servant to God above all else, and that through being a servant to God and others they might be blessed with the opportunity to lead those who are willing to follow them. At the end of the day, they are a servant first and foremost and they understand their place in the Kingdom of God.
A great way to tell the influence of a leader is to look at the lives of his/her students. When you see the direct influence their teachings have had on those who followed their leadership then you can truly see whether they were effective or not and also the true motives behind their influence. I look at the life of Paul. Paul was one of the most effective evangelists in the history of Christianity. Why is this? Because he took the teachings of Christ and the examples that he gave and he accepted them into his own belief system.The Scripture that came to my mind was 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.It states:
"And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power."
Here Paul was making the claim that he didn't come and teach the Corinthians with a greater wisdom then they had or by any of his own power. The reason he came to teach them was because of Christ and it was through the power of God and the work of his Spirit that made him successful. Paul wasn't excepting the earthly role of leadership. He was giving all of the glory and recognition to God. But we can all agree that Paul was one of the most influential Christian leaders of all time, yet he didn't try to become this leader. He just became a servant of Christ and others and the leadership followed suit.
The conclusion that I want to draw is this: Where did Paul learn to be this kind of leader? Through the teachings and influence of Christ. If you compare Jesus’ teachings and example of being a servant first to the teachings of worldly leadership today, it seems nothing short of radical. But think about this. Jesus Christ was the most influential man to ever walk this earth. Whether you believe he was the Son of God or just a crazy lunatic, you cannot deny his overwhelming influence that has spread throughout the entire world. And he didn’t do it through any public form of leadership. He didn't do it by learning how to manipulate others according to his own agenda. He did it by teaching us to be servant’s first and allowing God to work through the leadership opportunities that will arrive from that servitude.