May 19, 2016 • Life for Leaders
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we began to reflect on the surprising truth of Revelation 22:5. In the New Jerusalem, the people of God, those who are servants of the Lord, will also reign with him forever and ever. According to John’s inspired vision, we will be, not only servants of God (22:3), but also co-regents with God (22:5).
Our leadership is an expression of our servanthood to God, first of all, and then to others. By submitting myself to God’s sovereignty and by seeking God’s will most of all, I am ready to become a wise and gracious servant to those whom I lead.
I’m struck by this juxtaposition of our servanthood and our rulership. In the future, we are God’s servants who exercise a priestly authority as we offer our worship to God. Yet, as servants, we are also co-rulers with God. Our servanthood is expressed, not only in actions directed to the Lord, such as songs of praise, but also through exercising our God-given authority as his co-regents. In other words, our servanthood of God and our rulership with God are not contradictory. Rather, they are profoundly complementary, since we serve God, in part, by ruling.
Revelation 22 reminds me of what we call servant leadership. This notion, popularized by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s and promoted by people like Howard Butt, Jr., in The Velvet Covered Brick and Max De Pree in Leadership is an Art, sees the essence of leadership as serving those whom we lead. You can certainly find this view of leadership in Scripture (see, for example, Mark 10:45). But this is not exactly what John envisions in Revelation 22. John is not saying that we will serve those whom we rule. Rather, he is saying that we will serve God and, as God’s servants, we will also be rulers or, if you will, leaders.
What impresses me here is something that I believe is absolutely essential to effective servant leaders. Our servant leadership is anchored in our fundamental role as servants of God. If we want to serve well those for whom we are leaders, we should begin by acknowledging that we are servants of God. Our leadership is an expression of our servanthood to God, first of all, and then to others. By submitting myself to God’s sovereignty and by seeking God’s will most of all, I am ready to become a wise and gracious servant to those whom I lead.
Today, as you exercise leadership in your workplace, school, community, family, church, or wherever else you lead, may you do so as a servant of God.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When you think of servant leadership, what comes to mind?
Have you experienced servant leadership in your life? As a leader? As one being led?
How does anchoring our leadership in our role as God’s servants make a difference in how we lead?
Gracious God, thank you for John’s vision of the future. We look forward to the day when this vision will be our reality. It will be such a privilege to be your servants and, as your servants, those who reign with you.
May this vision of the future help us today, Lord. May we seek to serve you in all we do in every part of life. Then, as your servants, may we exercise leadership in a way that serves others. Help us, Lord, to be servant leaders in our decisions, interactions, and goals. May all that I do this day glorify you. Amen.
Image Credit: Charles V Picking up Titian’s Paintbrush, 1808.
Bergeret, Pierre-Nolasque. Oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. Public Domain via Web Gallery of Art.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.