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Last updated Sun Mar 22 18:31:33 EDT 2020

OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew




  1. The term “servant-leader” originated in 1970.  It was coined by a man named Robert K. Greenleaf.


  1. The practice of servant-leadership, however, was manifested 2,000 years ago during the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1.      Mark 10:45


For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom

for many.


2.      Philippians 2:5-7


Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.


  1. Not only did Jesus assume the position of servant-leader, He also taught His followers to become servant leaders as well (Matt. 20:26-27).


But it shall not be so among you:  but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.


  1. In this lesson we want to address the subject:  “Jesus:  The Ultimate Servant-Leader.”




A.     Many people become leaders because they desire position, power, and prestige.


B.     A servant-leader wants to serve others.

1.      He was serving before He became a leader.

2.      As a leader, he only has increased opportunities to serve.


C.     For some individuals, the desire to serve seems to come naturally (Ex., Timothy, Phil. 2:20-22).


For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.  But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served me in the gospel.


D.    Some individuals will have to really work to have a “desire” to serve.

1.      They desire a position of power.

2.      They desire a position of prestige.

3.      They desire a position for privileges.

4.      They do not desire a position for people.






A.     Humility

1.      Humility involves a willingness to stoop down, to bow down, and to lie down before others.

2.      Jesus (Phil. 2:6-7a)

a.       Thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

b.      But made himself of no reputation.


B.     Lowliness of mind

1.      In Scripture, this is a mindset of being willing to be lower than another.

2.      Two verses:

a.       Philippians 2:3


Let nothing be done through strife or vainglorying; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.


b.      Romans 12:16


Be of the same mind one toward another.  Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.  Be not wise in your own conceits.


C.     Compassion

1.      The word “compassion” involves the prefix “com” which means “with” and then word “passion” meaning “to suffer.”  Thus, compassion means “to suffer with.”

2.      The one who longs to serve sees the suffering of mankind and hurts with them.  His feeling of hurt drives him to take care of others.

3.      Two examples:

a.       Jesus toward the leper (Mark 1:41)


And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and said unto him, I will; be thou clean.


b.      The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33)

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.


D.    A willingness to labor for others

1.      Being a servant is not easy.  It involves the lowly, difficult, thankless tasks.

2.      Jesus

a.       Washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5)

b.      Went to the cross of Calvary (Phil. 2:8)




A.     When some hear about the qualities just mentioned, they think that servant-leadership is soft and weak.  They think that it has no value.


B.     Four things servant-leadership is not.

1.      It is not weakness.  It finds its power from avenues other than demands and threats.

2.      It is not about position.  It knows that real leadership is about influence.

3.      It is not about authority.  It is about persuasion, example, and getting others to join a team.

4.      It is not about making others fear.  It about others seeing our character.


C.     One of the best examples of servant-leadership involves the apostle Paul while he was making his voyage to Rome (Acts 27).

1.      It was not about position.  Paul was only a prisoner (Acts 27:1).

2.      It was not about authority.  He was under the command of a Roman centurion (Acts 27:1).

3.      It was not about instilling fear.  It was Paul’s strength, knowledge, patience, and godliness (Acts 27:9-10; 21-26; 33-36).

4.      It was not about weakness.  He saved an entire shipload of men from utter disaster.  276 mean total (Acts 27:44b).


And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.




A.     Self-awareness

1.      The ability to look at yourself, think deeply about your emotions and how they impact others.

2.      Hosea 1:5


Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.


B.     Foresight

1.      This is the ability to

a.       Predict what will happen in the future

b.      Understand what is happening now

c.       Understand the consequences of your decisions

2.      Ephesians 5:15


See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.


a.       This involves the future, not just day-to-day operations.

b.      The cheapest way is not always the best way.

c.       Question:  How does this decision impact every member of the church?


C.     Conceptualize

1.      Develop the ability to dream big dreams.

2.      Examples:

a.       Nehemiah:  rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:17)

b.      Jesus:  take the gospel to the world (Mark 16:15)


D.    Be able to persuade

1.      Persuading is the ability to induce another to believe by appealing to reason and understanding.

2.      Two examples:

a.       God wants to reason with us (Isa. 1:18).

b.      This is what gospel preaching is all about (Acts 18:4)


And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

E.     Communication

1.      Servant-leaders know how to speak (Jesus, gracious words, Luke 4:22, see Mark 12:27).

2.      Servant-leaders know how to listen (James 1:19).


F.      Resources (Healing)

1.      The servant-leader has a vision.  He persuades people to grasp this vision.  When this happens, he has to give people the resources needed to make the dream come true.

2.      People have to be supported both physically and emotionally.

a.       Jesus left and sent the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).

b.      He also promised to be with them always (Matt. 28:20).


G.    Empathy

1.      We must be able to understand the perspectives of those we lead.

2.      Two examples:

a.       Nehemiah heard the cries of the people against those who were extracting usury from them (Neh. 5:1-13).

b.      The disciples responded to the words of the Grecians whose widows were neglected in the daily ministration (Acts 6:1-7).


H.    Commitment to the growth of people (Jesus, fishers of men, Matt. 4:19).


And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.


I.       Building family

1.      The church is a family that must grow in their love and care for each other (I Thess. 3:12).

2.      Leaders must develop ways to bring people together and develop love and closeness.


J.        Stewardship

1.      The servant-leader takes responsibility for his actions and the actions of his group.  “The buck stops here.”

2.      The alternative is to blame, justify, and rationalize.  These are not acceptable behaviors for the servant-leader.




A.     Jesus was the absolute servant-leader.

1.      He was the Son of God, but He was a servant.

2.      He was the Lord, but He was a servant.

3.      He was the King of kings, but He was a servant.

4.      He was the High Priest of God, but He was a servant.

5.      He was a rabbi, but He was a servant.


B.     We need servant-leaders in the church today.  We need man who:

1.      Desire to serve.

2.      Care about people.

3.      Who manifest Christ as they lead others.


C.     “Lord, make me a servant.  Lord, make me like you.  For you are a servant.  Make me one too.”