What Is Servant Leadership?
I briefly introduced the idea of Servant Leadership 2 weeks ago, but what is it? In a lot of ways, the term describes itself very well. But to provide more clarification, James Autry explains that it is “leadership in service to others” in his book The Servant Leader. The Greenleaf Institute points out that this is a “philosophy and set of practices.” They also comment: “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first…”
For today’s post I have chosen to interview a leader who has faithfully modeled Servant Leadership for me in a variety of ways. Brother Bill Hauser was my pastor growing up, and he graciously agreed to answer some questions for me. Enjoy!
OPL: What does Servant Leadership look like to you? What thoughts, attitudes and actions exemplify it?
BH: Servant Leadership is being Jesus to one person at a time because Jesus exemplified Servant Leadership in his personal life and ministry. It didn’t matter if he was going to someone’s house for fellowship or trying to get away to rest…the next thing you know his time is interrupted by healing someone. Not being afraid to be interrupted is something that is certainly necessary. All of us have agendas, but God sometimes just conveniently changes those agendas to help us focus on doing His will, His way.
Here is a little poem by Charles Meigs that exemplifies this idea so well:
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for—Others.
Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.
OPL: How do you keep focusing on serving through good days and bad days? How do you persevere?
BH: Nothing improves my day better than serving Him. When you have the attitude to save the Lost at any cost as long as Christ gets the glory, then your good days and bad days turn into His days and you don’t go wrong with Jesus. Does that mean I never have a bad day? Of course not, but remembering who I am and whose I am always helps me stay at least as consistent as possible.
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth, give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me.” Psalms 86:11-12
OPL: How do you draw the line between serving others and being with your family?
BH: First of all, I chose the right companion who shares my goals and dreams, which I pray are God’s goals and dreams. I can’t say that I have always had my priorities in order. But I will say this: Connie has been a real blessing and has helped me realize on more than one occasion to keep the first thing first. Christ does not want us to win the world, and lose our families. There is such an attack on the family that we have to be aware of the work of the evil one.
OPL: How do you draw the line of listening to the Spirit’s guidance for when to say no and when you have to stop serving?
BH: You have to learn to say “NO” and I don’t have a formula. I love what we teach in our children’s ministry:
- Trust God no matter what
- Make wise decisions based on God’s Word
- Treat others the way you want to be treated
If you don’t recognize that the Holy Spirit is available then you are going to have problems. Sometimes the Holy Spirit once again will guide and direct me through my wife and those I am closest to.
OPL: How do you purposefully exemplify servant leadership day in and day out?
BH: I think that integrity is such a vital part of a person’s own personal life and public life. I would like to think that what I do in secret could be revealed in public. I, once again, don’t believe I have a magic formula with this, but one thing I want to make clear is that my personal worship is vital to my walk and my leadership. Nothing, I mean nothing takes the place of daily fellowship with our Lord. I am ashamed and sorry that I had to be 38 before I really realized that, and at 65 I am a work in progress.
OPL: How does Servant Leadership benefit the people that you lead?
BH: I hope that I will be someone who will live a life where the ministry team, the congregation and the world around us would say that I have let them see more of God and less of me. That the joy that I have, and the zeal that the Lord has blessed me with is because I have been loved, disciplined and a disciple of the One who paid it all for me.
[Nate’s Note: I have edited Brother Bill’s answers to fit within the space constraints of our blog. ]
Thanks again to Brother Bill for agreeing to this interview. I hope that all of our readers will be inspired to live a life of servant leadership.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)
Others, by Charles D. Meigs