The greatest leaders’ misapprehension is the expectation to be served by people instead of serving the people. The perception and expectation of leadership prominence, glory and positional benefits have invaded the governance structures of the church. Leaders are expecting to be served by church members while they are doing less or close to nothing to serve the church members.

A common misconception among those who want to exercise a leadership authority over others is a thought that leadership comes with wealth, fame and power. There are a number of leaders who are self-centred, egocentric and self-absorbed. The church is faced with this. It’s a huge challenge whereby there are very few true leaders who embody the attitude of a servant.

The most perilous misunderstanding is that many leaders measure their success by the number of followers they have kept instead of the number of followers they trained, equipped and built to become exceptional leaders. Countless number of people in churches are not assisted to recognise their divine callings, ministries and gifts but all they are taught is how to make their leaders great people of all times.

The intention of this article is to remind one another about two kingdom leadership principles taught and demonstrated by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. These principles have worked for corporates, non-profit organisations communities, cities and nations. In fact the principles discussed below are the pillars of kingdom leadership of all times.

The first kingdom leadership principle that He taught His disciples is that if anyone wants to be great he must be a minister. This was taken further that whoever wants to be greatest must be a servant of all. In Mark 9:33-35, the disciples of Jesus had an argument about who should be great amongst them and this is the similar argument that exits amongst leaders today. Someone great in the kingdom is the one who is the servant of all not the one served by all. The one served by all might be an idol of all. The truth is that according to the world view, being a servant is associated with lack of class and low prestige no honour. However, the kingdom usage of this term is associated with greatness. Apostle Paul encouraged the Galatian church to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

The second principle Jesus taught his disciples is that a great leader should be willing to wash the feet of his followers instead of just waiting for his followers to wash his feet (John 13:12-15). The washing of the feet was a symbol of humility and letting go of the personal ego and status. Individuals generally feel as though they have to fight to get to the leadership positions such as church boards by stepping on anyone who gets in their way. Instead of having the love for the positions and lofty places, leaders need to love the people to the extent that they will unconditionally serve people with or without positions.

The challenge is that most leaders in our generation do not have time to reach out to their followers particularly those classified as downtrodden, poor and uneducated. If Jesus as the Son of the living God humbled himself to wash His disciple’s feet why are we not reaching out to one another? I assume that most leaders have too much pride and ego. As leaders we need to be able humble ourselves and perform even the despised work in the kingdom of God regardless of our lofty positions and gifts. This simply teaches us that selfless leadership is not spoken but is seen when performing even the menial work.

There are great selfless leadership lessons that we can draw from legendary bible leaders such as Moses the Lawgiver, Gideon the Deliverer, Nehemiah the Kings Cupbearer, Esther the Queen, Deborah the Judge, Solomon the King, Paul the Apostle, Peter the Apostle and David `the King. In leadership the focus should not be about personal gain, glory and fame but serving God’s purpose in one’s generation (Acts 13:36). All these legendary leaders of the bible did not prioritise their positions of power but they prioritised the responsibilities attached to their positions. True kingdom leaders are prepared to perish or be sacrificed for the sake of the deliverance, wealth and success of the whole nation than sacrificing the whole nation for the sake of their selfish ambitions.

It does not matter whether one is leading a mega church, worship team, ushering team, or any other group; leaders are in those positions to serve not to be served. If you are given an opportunity to lead it is a divine privileged to serve not an achievement that can make one demand to be served. It is ungodly for those who are in positions of leadership to demand to be served in the kingdom of God.

In conclusion, leaders are not called to create personal wealth at the expense of the welfare of the followers, leaders are not called to pursue power and positions but they should pursue love and service to others, leaders are not called to compete with their followers but should complement others as we are all the members of the body of Christ. Authentic leaders are mostly concerned about serving people not self-centred pursuit of power and wealth. However, this does not suggest that followers have to abuse and take advantage of their leaders.

Modise Moloi, founder of Tiisetso Leadership Foundation, is a leadership expert, coach, and minister of the word.

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