The Serving Leader

“What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young” -George Bernard Shaw

Ever run across a statement that at first doesn’t make sense? Jumbo Shrimp. Wise Fool. or my favorite- “Nobody goes to that restaurant, its always too crowded.”

These are all examples of paradoxes. Two words or concepts that seem to have no way to reconcile them or to coexist.

Calvin and Hobbes painting, posted on the obsessive imagist

Thankfully some paradoxes do work.

The first shall be last and the last shall be first. – Matthew 20:16

Divine Humanity- a God-Man.

That same God-Man being perfect, accepting punishment for an entire sinful world.

That is the Paradox of the Gospel, and when paradoxes line up with our Creator’s plan, they are resolved.

A focus of ours on Leaders in Motion is servant leadership. A concept that is rife with paradox.

A great book that chronicles in easy-to-read story form the paradoxes of servant leadership is The Serving Leader by John Stahl-Wert and Ken Jennings.

serving leader

In that great book the authors connect paradoxes to five pillars of Servant Leadership. All of these apparent paradoxes actually work because, of course, they align with the Creator’s plan for humanity. Our story as humans is interwoven with Love, a concept that is selfless and paradoxical in the highest degree. So when our ideas about leadership seem to be at odds with conventional wisdom, we can examine if that contradiction is based in true selfless love and if so, it will reflect the Love poured on humanity by Christ.

Here are the five pillars from The Serving Leader.

Run to great Purpose

Paradox: to do the most possible good, strive for the impossible.

Upend the Pyramid

Paradox: You qualify to be first by putting other people first.

Raise the Bar

Paradox: The best reach-down is a challenging reach-up.

Blaze the Trail

Paradox: To protect your value, you must give it all away.

Build on Strength

Paradox: To address your weaknesses, focus on your strengths.

This is merely an introduction to the paradoxes in servant leadership. At a later time we will examine these pillars of leadership more in depth. For now go in the words of the greatest servant leader of all time, Jesus Christ

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28

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