A note from Kelly King: Maybe the Lord is teaching me something new this week, but I’ve been reminded a few times of the importance of servant leadership. While this is the model I want to emulate, I know it’s a continual process of surrendering my selfish desires so that I can truly serve those I lead. I hope you’ll be reminded of these things today as you read Cindy Townsend’s article. If you would like to hear Cindy, she will be teaching at the October 11 You Lead event in Oklahoma City.
As women, one of our greatest challenges is to teach those entrusted to our care the essence of servant leadership. The world’s ladder of success is one of selfish ambition and walking on whomever, whenever, to get to the top and be THE positional leader. God’s leadership design embraces an entirely different model of living. We must teach and model true servant leadership.
It’s not doing. It is being.
Servant leaders can only significantly impact the world around them as they choose to continue the process of becoming more like HIM every day. If Satan cannot lead women into deliberate sinful activities, he will seek to busy our lives with meaningless “good” activities. If we are busy doing good things, it is easy to neglect the best and most important thing—time in the presence of the Lord! There is no substitute for the power, direction, refinement, cleansing, and refreshment that comes as you strive to be like Jesus before you do anything in HIS name.
Philippians 3:9a: “and be found in him…”
It’s not commitment. It is surrender.
Servant leadership is not about making a commitment to fulfill another task. Servant leadership is waving the white flag in a lifestyle of total surrender. A committed servant leader fulfills responsibilities out of a desire to be obedient with a sense of duty and feels the overwhelming burden of the task. A surrendered servant leader is compelled by a heart-felt love for the Lord and knows how to roll the heaviest of burdens onto the shoulders of the Lord. The surrendered servant leader experiences incredible joy. Joy beyond the circumstances. Joy in the journey of service. Challenge women to wave the white flag!
2 Corinthians 5:14a: “For the love of Christ compels us…”
It’s not “I’ll do my best.” It is “Whatever it takes.”
Shortly after beginning a ministry at a new church, I started phoning all the members assigned to the ministry area entrusted to me (435 people to be exact—quite a task!). My purpose in calling each person was to introduce myself as their new minister and invite them to be a vital part of what God was doing in HIS ministry. The majority of the people responded, “I’ll try to be there,” or “I’ll do my best,” or “I’ll think about it.” I was so discouraged and prayed for God to raise up a nucleus of people who would respond with a “whatever it takes” spirit! Servant leaders must adopt that same spirit. It’s the same spirit that Jesus took with Him to Calvary—the whatever it takes spirit!
Philippians 2:5: “Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.”
It’s not exaltation. It is humility.
There is nothing more devastating than climbing to the top of the world’s ladder of success only to discover that the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall. The world’s ladder challenges leaders to move up, up, up in the world by exalting self and doing so through our own efforts. God’s ladder to true greatness would have us humble ourselves and serve others. His way began as God in heaven stepping down to earth as a man, serving others around Him, then carrying our sins down the most difficult road to death on a cruel cross. He showed His love for us as He stepped down the ladder to true greatness. Women who desire to live by God’s model must follow the example of their leader—the Lord Jesus Christ! It is true: the way up is down.
Matthew 20:26b: “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”
Dr. Cindy Townsend serves as the Minister to Women at First Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. Cindy’s passion is equipping women and students to discover their full potential in Christ Jesus. She has served in a variety of ministry and leadership positions throughout her career, including service as a student minister, minister of music, minister of discipleship and education, as Executive Director of Woman’s Missionary Union and Women’s Ministry for two Baptist state conventions, as Director of an international ministry group, and as the founding Director of the Global Leadership Institute at Jackson Preparatory School. She and her husband, Bill, are the parents of two adult children.