On Worship Series by FAP
Lent and Lamentation Series
FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
A FAITHFUL SERVANT’S REWARD
November 15, 2009
Today’s psalm reading (Ps 16:5-11) points us to a
To be a servant leader is hard and at times thankless work. One may be unappreciated
or misunderstood. One may even be maligned and persecuted. It is even ironic since one does what he does for the sake of the
But if we live out servant leadership, there is One who will always be grateful, and there will always be
His reward to look forward to, if not in this life, then in the next. In fact, given that we serve God, our perspective should
really be that of eternity. If we look to rewards in this life, we may be disappointed. But if we look to the life that is
to come, we will never be disappointed. “For you will not abandon me to Sheol, nor let your faithful servant see the
pit. You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” (v.10-11).
all, eternal life in heaven with God is our ultimate goal, and the reason why we serve and pastor others.
can we assure this reward? Just serve faithfully.
How do we assure that we are serving faithfully?
must always maintain our relationship with God. “I keep the Lord always before me” (v. 8a). It is He whom we serve,
it is He who gives us grace to serve, it is He who helps us to endure. Further, we are called to holiness, and servant leaders
ought to show the way to holiness for those whom they serve. As we walk in the footsteps
of Jesus, as we live out God’s commandments, then we will be holy.
Second, we need godly wisdom and understanding
in order to serve well. Since this is God’s work, then we look to God. “I bless the Lord who counsels me”
(v.7a). God will show us the way, if we are willing to seek Him. Thus we pray, we read the Bible, we take instruction from
the Church, we seek the wisdom of other wise leaders.
Third, since we are weak human flesh doing godly work, then we
need a power beyond ourselves, and that comes from God. We recognize that we are mere instruments. We take our anointing and
empowerment from God’s Spirit. Our strength is the Lord’s, and “with the Lord at my right, I shall never
be shaken.” (v.8b).
When we realize that God gives us the privilege to serve, that God is there for us,
that we can look forward to our eternal reward, then the effect should be that we are joyful and we feel secure. “Therefore
my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure” (v.9). Whatever happens, even if we are unappreciated
or maligned, we rejoice. Whatever happens, we are secure in God’s love and the blessings that He has already reserved
for His faithful servants. When Peter quoted this psalm of David at Pentecost, he said, “my
flesh, too, will dwell in hope.” (Acts 2:26). So we should have great hope, and we can confidently face the future.
has already decided how He wants to treat His faithful servants. We just need to reap what has already been reserved for us.
It is ours to take. Thus David speaks about his allotment and his inheritance. “Lord, my allotted portion and my cup,
you have made my destiny secure. Pleasant places were measured out for me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance.” (v.5-6).
A secure destiny and pleasant places--what great things we can look forward to!
A secure destiny spells hope. Knowing
God and trusting in Him brings hope. As we have encountered in the book
of Lamentations: “My portion is the Lord, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” (Lam 3:24). Our
share is the Lord Himself. If such is the reward of faithful service, then we are privileged indeed. Then we, as did Peter
and David, can truly look forward to a future full of hope.
God promises, and we simply need to receive.
* * *
(Note: Get your copies of our new
book “Servant Leadership” and learn more about this great calling.)
FROM THE SERVANT GENERALNovember 11, 2009
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
BEING ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD
Today’s reading from the book
of Wisdom (6:2-11) has important instruction for servant leaders.
Servant leaders stand in God’s
place, doing His work and caring for His people. Now that is an awesome privilege and responsibility. God entrusts His plan
for the life of the world to His people, especially His servant leaders. God gives them His anointing, and they do their work
under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. As such, “for those in power a rigorous
scrutiny impends” (v.8).
God holds us accountable! God will probe our works. God will test the quality of our
service. “Hearken, you who are in power over the multitude and lord it over throngs of peoples! Because authority was
given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High, who shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels!” (v.2-3).
will be the standard of God’s judgment?
The standard is God Himself. Servant leaders must judge “rightly,
and .... keep the law, (and) walk according to the will of God”
(v.4). We are to live righteous lives, avoid sin and wrongdoing, and make decisions according to His ways. This is because
we represent God, and we are tasked to care for His people. Thus we reflect the image
of God. Thus we obey God’s commands and do things His way, not our way.
If not, our punishment will be
severe. “Terribly and swiftly shall he come against you” (v.5a). But why? We are just trying to serve Him. It
is voluntary and we may not be getting paid for it. Punishment will
be severe “because judgment is stern for the exalted” (v.5b), and “the mighty shall be mightily put to the
test” (v.6b). God gives us power and authority, entrusting His people to us, and we must care for them the way God wants
It seems such a heavy burden. Why even take the chance of being punished by God by becoming a servant
leader? Well, it is a great privilege. And if we truly love God, and if we know that He acts through leaders that He chooses,
then we must respond if called.
For those called, God provides the grace to be able to serve well. First, God gives
us His commands, which lead us to righteousness and holiness, which in turn transform us into the image and likeness of God.
God assures us that “those who keep the holy precepts hallowed shall be found holy” (v.10a). God desires that
we be holy as He is holy. If we desire this as well, and strive to live according to His ways, then we will be holy. “To
you, therefore, O princes, are my words addressed that you may learn wisdom and that you may not sin.” (v.9).
as we strive to obey God’s laws, and thus grow in godly wisdom, then we will know how to respond to God’s call,
and act according to His will in caring for His people. God again assures us: “those learned in them will have ready
a response” (v.10b). God will not withhold His wisdom, grace and anointing. He just wants to have obedient leaders,
whom He is committed to form and transform.
To be a servant leader is a great and wonderful calling. It is both
a great privilege and responsibility. Being tasked to do the very work of God, we will be held accountable. In this we must
not be afraid, but trust in the God who calls us.
God provides for all we need in order to do His work and be effective
servant leaders. God guides us and instructs us, and God does want us to succeed. He has given us His guide book, the Bible.
He has given us the Church and her magisterium. He has given us our community, with elders and brethren.
it is up to us. “Desire therefore my words; long for them and you shall be instructed.” (v.11).
* * *
FROM THE SERVANT GENERALNovember 10, 2009
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
Today’s gospel reading (Lk 17:7-10) teaches us about our proper
posture as servant leaders. The following reflection is taken from my new book Servant Leadership, chapter 16.
are important to a master. A master gets things done by having servants do tasks for him. We too are called to serve God,
and as such are important to Him. In fact, though God can and does act directly in the lives of people, most of the time He
acts in and through human instruments.
Now problems come when the instrument given the privilege to serve and empowered
by the master for service begins to think that he, having done great things, is himself great. When such pride comes in, the
fall inevitably follows. God wants to avoid this, so as to keep His servants functioning well so that He can accomplish His
plan for the world.
The key is in the servant being constantly aware of who he is before the Master, and of knowing
that apart from the Master he can do nothing. If the servant simply obeys and knows his place, then he will be used by the
Master and be blessed.
The attitude of a servant
Jesus himself illustrated the proper
attitude of a servant.
A first observation is that it would seem Jesus is quite harsh, perhaps even cruel. After all, servants,
even with their lowly status, should be afforded proper respect and due consideration.
- “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come
here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to
that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Lk 17:7-10)
To think that is to miss the
meaning of being a servant, or a slave, during those olden times. Today we think of a servant, or perhaps an employee, as
someone who has rights, is paid justly, has set hours of work, enjoys vacation and other privileges, or can even go on strike.
It was not that way in Jesus’ time. The so-called servants during those days were actually slaves. They may have been
taken captive in a war or in a raid on a village, and then sold in the marketplace as a slave. Once purchased, they became
the property of the owner. They had no rights, no identity, and could not complain if they were overworked or not fed.
when Jesus told his disciples about a servant being called by his master from the field and told to recline at table for a
meal, his listeners might have burst out in laughter and engaged in good-natured ribbing. Such was simply unthinkable. When
the laughter died down, Jesus then told it as it really is. What the servant needed to do, even after a hard day’s labor
out in the field, would be to serve the master at his meal. Only after the master finished could the servant have his own
But there is more. The master did not even have to thank the servant for his service. Why? The servant was only
doing what was expected of him. He was only doing his duty. He was only following orders.
Then the clincher. The servant’s
own posture is simply to accept that he is worthless or unprofitable. It was not a question of what service he rendered, or
of how valuable he had been to the master, or how much he had sacrificed. Rather, it was simply a question of who he was.
He was a slave, a nobody, one with no rights. He was one who did not need to be thanked or acknowledged.
attitude of a servant leader
We are servants of Jesus,
our Lord and Master. We had been under the dominion of the evil one, a situation of slavery to darkness and sin. Jesus redeemed
us with his blood. He purchased us, and we now belong totally to him.
As such, our proper attitude is the same as that
of the slave. In serving God, we are to expend ourselves, we are not to look to our convenience or comfort, we are not to
demand wages or perquisites, and we should not expect to be thanked. We are only doing what we ought to do.
if anyone is to be thanked, it should be we the servants thanking Jesus the Master. Jesus has given us the privilege to do
his very own work, to participate in that very wonderful task of proclaiming him to the world, to care for the very people
whom he died for and saved, to help bring people to their eternal destiny in heaven. Jesus allows us to stand in his very
own place, caring for his very own flock. Such is a privilege like no other.
Such an attitude should manifest
itself in different ways in our service.
attitude of Jesus
- We serve without counting the cost, ready to bear any sacrifice.
do not serve according to our own priorities or interests.
- We are totally obedient to the Master, following his directions
- We think of nothing else but serving the Master, and how we can be pleasing to him.
- We do
not look to being thanked, and many times might be unappreciated or even rejected by the very people we serve.
always realize the great privilege we have been given in serving God.
- We rejoice in our holy slavery to Jesus.
Our attitude is clear: we are merely servants or slaves of Christ. We must know our
But here is something very important. Jesus is not a cruel taskmaster. He is in fact everything to the
the divine Master treats human servants in this way. In that lie our great privilege and joy.
- Though he owns us, he respects our free will.
- Though he is the Master, he washes our feet.
we are his slaves, he has made us his friends (Jn 15:15).
- Though we are worthless, he has endowed us with dignity
and honor as his own brethren.
- Though he holds our lives in his hands, he is the one who gave his own life for our
- Though we are unworthy, he has entrusted the very gift of salvation into our hands.
- Though we should
serve him at table, he allows us to eat and drink at his table in his kingdom (Lk 22:30).
 Other translations have “useless,” “unworthy,” or “worthless.”
 Other translations have “our duty” or “what we ought to have done.”
FROM THE SERVANT GENERALNovember 8, 2009
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
THE SCRIBES AND THE WIDOW
Today’s gospel reading (Mk 12:38-44) teaches us about servant
leadership. It gives us a DON’T and a DO, with many ramifications on how we serve God and others.
Jesus denounces the scribes, who look to trappings of authority, and being acclaimed and recognized (v.38), who look to prestige
and being honored (v.39), but prey on those they serve, while making a pretense of spirituality to cover up their wrong acts
So what are the things that a servant leading is NOT to do?
Second, Jesus affirms the widow, who put in two small coins into the temple treasury, versus the many
rich people who put in large sums. Jesus said that the “poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the
treasury” (v.43). Why? “For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has
contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (v.44).
- Look to the wrong P’s as one’s
motivation for service: power, position, prestige, perks and pay.
- Look to being acclaimed, or even aspire for Church
or secular awards.
- Be unduly protective of one’s reputation.
- Look to always being affirmed or acknowledged
in one’s service.
- Take undue advantage of those one serves (borrowing
money, using their time and resource for one’s personal benefit, and so on).
- Make a pretense of one’s
world extols leaders who are like the scribes, while ignoring or putting down those who are nobodies in society like the poor
widow. Worldly leadership looks to high positions of power and authority, while servant leadership looks to taking the lowest
place, to serve and not to be served, to being last while putting others first.
- What does this teach us about what a servant leader is
- Just serve, knowing that everyone has something to offer in serving God, no matter how seemingly menial according
to worldly values.
- Do not be overly concerned about so-called performance, for it is not what one is able to accomplish
that is important, but what one puts into the effort in his service. Know that it is up to God to provide the fruit. We simply
need to be available to become His instruments.
- Be willing to make a sacrifice in serving, even giving out of one’s
poverty of resources, even depriving oneself of what he can justifiably use up for himself.
- Trust that if one honors
the Lord and His work, then the Lord will be the one to take care of his needs. The Lord is never outdone in generosity.
For the true Christian, whether in
service in the Church or in secular society, there is only one way--that of Jesus, and that of the poor widow.
* * *
FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
SERVING GOD AND NOT MAMMON
November 7, 2009
Today’s reading from the gospel of Luke gives
us some points about servant leadership, which is so different from leadership in the world. Worldly leaders often think in
secular and humanistic terms, and seek to be pleasing to human beings. But God warns
us: “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination
in the sight of God.” (Lk 16:15).
God’s ways and thoughts are indeed so far away from our own (Is 55:8-9).
What we esteem could be an abomination to God. Worldly leaders seek power, position, perks and pay, which could all lead us
away from God, even as we endeavor to serve Him. Worldly leaders, even as they serve God, could actually be serving mammon.
is “mammon”? Mammon here is the Greek transliteration of a Hebrew or Aramaic word that is usually explained as
meaning “that in which one trusts.” When we trust in our human wisdom rather than God’s wisdom, when we
look to human esteem rather than God’s approval, when we serve as lord over others rather than as a slave of Christ,
when we have our own personal agenda and priorities, then we are serving mammon.
Such a posture could creep into our
hearts without our knowing it, or perhaps without our being fully aware of it. Thus we need to always look to God for guidance
and wisdom, humbly seeking these as we serve. It is God who knows our hearts, since He created us and is all-knowing.
warns us right off. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to
one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Lk 16:13). Those who are worldly leaders, even as they
strive to serve God, will ultimately have to make the choice.
But here is the interesting thing. While we do
not serve mammon, we can make mammon serve us. This is the point of Jesus’ parable of the dishonest steward.
this parable, Jesus is not approving of dishonesty, but rather is commending the steward for his prudence, given that he was
about to lose his job. As steward, he followed the Palestinian custom of adding a usurious commission for himself on business
transactions made on behalf of his master. Now he was foregoing such commission. In letting go of his monetary interest, while
still protecting the interests of his master, he assured his own future well-being.
Then Jesus says, “I tell
you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth” (Lk 16:9a). As servant leaders, we do make use of power, authority
and position. We do enjoy acclaim. We utilize money and modern means of communications, such as the Internet. All these things
of the world could easily lead people astray. And so we need to guard our hearts, and ensure that we are truly serving God
rather than mammon.
If we pass the test, then God can truly use us for His purposes. If we remain faithful to God in
our exercise of leadership, then He can use us for greater things. “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones” (Lk 16:10a).
What are the great matters God can entrust us with? It
is the salvation of souls. This has to do with our mission and our work of evangelization. It is the very work of God. It
has to do with the very salvation won by Jesus on the cross. This after all is the true work of the servant leader.
can entrust such work to us if we are found trustworthy with small matters, that is, with money, worldly possessions, positions
of authority, power, and the like. If however we are found untrustworthy with the worldly blessings that God provides for
us, then we will miss out on the privilege of bringing Christ to others. “If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with
dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?” (Lk 16:11).
Further, if found untrustworthy and thus
unable to bring Christ to others, we will miss out on what God wants ultimately to give us, which is eternal life. If by our
infidelities we fail to become the instruments that God intends to use to bring to others what God wants them to have, we
endanger our own salvation. “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?”
And so Jesus tells us, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that
when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Lk 16:9). We can be sure that dishonest wealth, the world’s
goods and what is esteemed by the world, will fail us. But this ought not be any cause for concern. What we simply do is to
utilize all worldly resources at our command to pursue the Lord’s mission.
Thus will we be placed in right relationship
with God, and make many friends, the new brothers and sisters in Christ whom we would have helped evangelize and pastor.
when we finally leave this world, we are assured of welcome into our eternal home.
* * *
FROM THE SERVANT
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
MISSION AND MONEY
On the 12th death anniversary of Jun and Ben
A servant is one who is a slave of Christ,
who belongs totally to him. As a slave, a servant has no rights. He is to simply obey the commands of his master. His very
life is in the hands of the master.
Jesus was the suffering servant of Yahweh. He washed the feet of his disciples,
taking the lowest place. He suffered and died on the cross, winning for us our salvation.
As the servants of Jesus, we are to follow him. When we follow him, we must deny ourselves and take up
our cross. When we follow him, he leads us all the way to the cross. When we follow Jesus, we must be willing to give up our
lives for him, just as he gave up his life for us.
Martyrs for the cause
Today I honor,
once again, our brothers Ben Donato and Jun Frias. They are our first martyrs. They died 12 years ago in Vanuatu while on
mission. They gave their all, to the offering of their very lives. They died with their sandals on. They were true missionaries
and servant leaders.
Today we persist on our mission and our work. We are an evangelistic and missionary community.
We continue to field our missionaries to different parts of the world. And there will be more of them to come.
missionaries face hardships (just listen to their testimonies) but rejoice in the privilege. And our missionaries lay their
lives on the line every day for Jesus.
Our missionaries in Ghana had
an encounter with death. Our brothers Mike Javier from Canada, Deks Gonzales from the Philippines, and David from Ghana, had
a terrible road accident. Their Ghanaian driver was killed. They were
bloodied and bruised, with cuts and broken limbs. They needed to be hospitalized and operated on. But they lived.
also, while on their way home from our conference, our brethren had a serious accident in Italy. The car was a total wreck
and cannot be repaired anymore. But thank God, all four passengers were unharmed.
In the Philippines through the years,
there have been various vehicular accidents involving our brethren while on mission, causing various injuries and also deaths.
the missionary par excellence, suffered a great deal (just look at 2 Corinthians 11:23b-28!). He made four missionary
journeys. He did not have the modern conveniences of vehicles or the Internet. His was a hard life. But he rejoiced in the
privilege of serving Christ, and especially in suffering for him.
Today we do mission, and our missionaries indeed
suffer. But we have not been lashed or stoned. We have not been shipwrecked. We have not been imprisoned. But we do face the
possibility of serious accidents and even death.
Not everyone is privileged to do mission. In that our missionaries
should exult and rejoice.
Mission and money
There are many more opportunities for
us to do mission. The potential missionaries are there, especially among our young single brethren. It is of course not limited
to them. Ben’s very own widow Menchie has gone to many different and difficult mission areas, all by herself.
our big problem is finances. There simply is not enough money.
This is tragic. How I wish that we could simply call
on God to send His angels who can bodily whisk away our missionaries to Africa or to Latin America or elsewhere. But every
time I pray, the Lord says the same thing, “You need to buy a ticket.” It sounds funny, but I am not laughing.
I am grieving.
How can we let such a mundane thing as money prevent us from serving the Lord more, from being the missionary
community that we are called to be?!
It is doubly tragic because it is not for a lack of money on your part. If only
every CFC-FFL member gave some amount every month, no matter how small, we would have more than enough for mission. Is that
too much to ask? I am not wringing blood out of you. Far from it! You would not even notice what you forgo if you give.
at times ask why God does not provide for our needs. But God has indeed already provided. Whenever we respond to His authentic
call, then He will provide. So where is the money? It remains in your pockets and purses! “Dare a man rob God? Yet you
are robbing (Him)!” (Mal 3:8a). What a tragedy for our mission. What a tragedy for you.
In the accident
in Ghana, we needed to raise money for the hospital and for operations. You responded! Do we have to wait for such serious
accidents before we give for mission? Does the Lord have to allow an accident before you take out your wallet or purse?
continue to die in their sins. They are the object of our evangelization. Physical death, especially martyrdom, is not tragic,
for we live and die for Christ. But spiritual death is tragic.
And for you who already know the Lord and are striving to live a truly Christian life, failure to give is even more tragic.
You are accursed because you rob God (Mal 3:9). But this does not have to be. You can prevent this by your giving.
Ben and Jun died on the birthday of Mama Mary. So death and life come on the same day. But
our brothers’ death has led to eternal life their own and those they have helped evangelize. This is the wonderful work
that we have been given the privilege to do.
Our singles, couples and handmaids are stepping forth and willing to become
missionaries. They know the hardships this entails, and even the possibility of death. But they persist.
You can do
your part, from the comfort of your homes, in the presence of your loved ones, without the threats to life that they face.
You can pray for them. But you can also make it possible for them to be sent as missionaries, by your giving of your finances.
This can be your way of going on mission.
Our call as servant leaders
We are all servants
of Jesus. And our community has been tasked to raise the leaders who will pursue the work of Jesus, that of evangelization
and mission. There is much to be done, and we must give of ourselves so that we can lead the way for many others.
servant leaders we must take on the mind and heart of our Master. We must be willing to give our all, including our very lives.
And if we are to give our all, we certainly must be willing to give back to God what He has entrusted to us our time, talent
Today we honor our brothers Jun Frias and Ben Donato. Thank you, Jun and Ben, for your ultimate
May there be more of them, including those who will give their lives for the cause.
May our community
be so blessed.
FROM THE SERVANT
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
I suppose none of us who are serving
as leaders in CFC-FFL would disagree with the call to servant leadership. We readily agree and actually try to live out its
high ideals. However, the problem might be in our not realizing certain aspects of leadership that actually keep us from fully
embracing true servanthood.
I would now like to take up some of these.
When Jesus washed the feet
of the apostles, he took the lowest place. The washing of feet was not even fit for the lowest slave, but that is what the
Master did. To have to wash others’ feet is to experience shame, humiliation and being looked down on (literally and
Jesus was Master but he did the work of a slave, even lower. This is the context by which we must understand
that we are leaders but more importantly servants.
Authority and power
Leaders do have authority
and power. But it is authority and power to be able to serve. It is not authority and power to be able to dominate.
- Being dictatorial. We are pastors and not tyrants. We guide, advise, enlighten, encourage and also give direction.
We are there to give care. We are there to love.
- Being controlling. We do not have to have everything under our control.
We in fact should delegate and practice the principle of subsidiarity. We trust in our subordinates.
- Acting in any
way that intimidates subordinates, thus preventing them from freely expressing their views and giving their inputs. Leaders
must not only not act in an authoritarian way, but must actively encourage subordinates to give their inputs, even negative
- Demanding blind obedience. We are not a cult, and the freedom of our members to choose can never be taken from
them. What we in fact promote is active submission, where they can freely (but respectfully) question anything and give their
- Becoming impatient with people, to the point of just dictating on them. We must learn to work with and to
walk with our people. It indeed is our privilege, and burden, to help form our brethren through loving pastoral care.
- Acting unilaterally on decisions affecting the body. We must make it a
habit to consult and seek the wisdom of others, especially of counselors and core teams, who are there precisely to give wise
- Becoming functional. While we do have a function to perform, the basic reality is that we live in community,
where loving relationships are at the core. Our relationships are primarily personal and fraternal, not merely functional.
For their able leadership, leaders ought to be respected, emulated, esteemed and even extolled. This is to
encourage the brethren and help them trusting in their leaders, for the good of the body and the mission. However, looking
good ought never be a factor in our handling our leadership. Jesus was demeaned and spat on. If circumstances cause us to
suffer that same fate, then it is cause for great joy.
What to avoid:
Looking to one’s own shortcomings
- Preventing subordinates from having access
to a higher authority where the subordinates can express their disagreements with their leaders, so that we do not look bad
to our superiors. We in fact should welcome such, so that if we are doing anything not right, then we can be corrected. We
must humble ourselves. We should also trust in our superiors to be able to wisely handle any complaints against us.
subordinates to take up matters with us first before going to a higher authority. While we do have a pastoral-hierarchical
structure that brings order to our day-to-day community life, a subordinate must not be intimidated into not freely going
to a higher authority if he/she feels the need to do so.
- Becoming defensive or overly sensitive when criticized or
questioned. Rather, welcome the criticism, which hopefully is constructive, and learn whatever needs to be learned. If there
is no validity to the criticism, then simply explain and then leave the matter in the hands of the superior.
resentful when corrected by a superior due to the inputs of a subordinate. Rather, welcome every correction, wherever and
however it comes about. Thank the one who gave the input that led to the correction.
- Not fully disclosing problems
when asked by one’s superior. The superior is there to help us in improving our service.
- Keeping quiet about
problems when not asked by one’s superior. Rather, we should volunteer “negative” information
and eagerly solicit advice and inputs.
are leaders. But we are leaders in spite of ourselves. We stand in the place of the Chief Shepherd Jesus,
and so we will always fall short. But such realization is in fact a blessing, if only we will acknowledge our shortcomings
and look to Jesus for grace and help. Such help is often given by God through our brethren.
What to avoid:
Trusting in God’s
working through subordinates
we have all the answers, and that seeking inputs from others especially subordinates would diminish us in their esteem.
humbly and actively seeking help from superiors or peers. We work as a team with other leaders. We compensate for weaknesses
and enhance strengths. Not seeking help when needed is missing out on a great resource.
- No longer being open to learn;
being fixed on our ways, even if such have proven problematic at times.
- Insisting on one’s stated position or
decision even in the face of clear indications that a change is desirable. This is sinful pride.
- Not constantly being
in a posture of dependence on and trust in the Lord. Such a posture is foolhardy.
God raises leaders to lead, but God does not speak to His people only exclusively
through His chosen leaders. Every member of community has a gift from the Holy
Spirit, and every member can become a particular instrument of God to manifest His will and His direction for the community.
Leaders must keenly desire to tap on to the mind of God through
What to avoid:
- Looking on subordinates only as those under one’s leadership, rather
than as brethren who are equal in personal worth and dignity, and whom God can use to give wise inputs to their superiors.
being open to the work of the Spirit in subordinates with regards to matters of governance. Even though authority resides
in a particular governor, it is always wise to seek counsel from others.
- Fault finding; being focused more on the
faults of subordinates. We are all works in progress. Leaders should in fact thank God that they are given the privilege to
help form subordinates, and so patiently do so. God has every reason to be impatient with us, but that is not what we experience
- Cold shoulder treatment to critics. We must always be patient, tolerant and forgiving, trying to win people
over by our good works and loving care.
Jesus not only washed the feet of the apostles, but he went to the cross to suffer a humiliating and
extremely painful death. The cross is the only way to glory. This is why Jesus tells his disciples, if they are to truly follow
him, to deny themselves and take up their cross. As leaders, Jesus certainly wants us to travel the same path.
We have a long way to go in fully appreciating and living
out servant leadership. But this can be the only way for us in CFC-FFL,
because this is the way of Jesus.
- Being depressed when things do not go our way. We must realize that God uses difficulties, challenges and
crosses to keep us on the right track and to purify us. As such, they are blessings to be embraced.
- Being discouraged
and even wanting to give up one’s service whenever we meet with opposition or correction from superiors. We should persevere
and endure. We in fact should be encouraged that brethren care enough to correct or chastise us.
- Looking on affliction
as undesirable. Again, the cross is the way of true discipleship. Suffering is redemptive. As long as we act in righteousness,
being misunderstood or being unjustly persecuted is to be considered as part of our continuing purification and growth to
- Not rejoicing in affliction for the sake of righteousness.
- Missing out on the reality that our enemy
is Satan and not our brethren. Satan opposes God’s work in and through us. At times he is able to use brethren to afflict
us. But we should always know that he is the true enemy.
Servant leadership is to be lived out, from the very top to the bottom, from the
Servant General to the Household Servants. Servant leadership is the way to unity and peace in the body.
FROM THE SERVANT
GENERALIn CFC-FFL, we serve as a team, from the
Servant General down to the Household Servants.
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
AS A TEAM
Our pastoral-organizational structure, characterized by a pyramidal
structure of leadership and the subdivision of the whole community into groups and sub-groups, can be traced to the time of
After the exodus from Egypt and before they arrived in Sinai, where God entered into covenant with them, after experiencing
much grumbling from the people right after God had miraculously freed them through Moses from centuries of slavery, Moses
was given some sound advice by his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro told him to group the whole people into smaller sub-groups,
into “groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” (Ex 18:21b).
Such today is our community
- a household of 5 couples
- a unit of 5 households
a chapter of 5 units
- a district of many clusters and chapters
The purpose of the structure
is the purpose of such a structure of pastoral leadership? Jethro advised: “Enlighten them in regard to the decisions
and regulations, showing them how they are to live and what they are to do.” (Ex 18:20).
Leaders are to inform,
educate and help form members in the ways and means of community life, culture and service. For us in CFC-FFL, this is about
our life and mission in Jesus. We enlighten brethren regarding our Covenant, our Core Values, our ways of relating with one
another, how to live our marriage and family lives, how to build the Church of the Home and the Church of the Poor, how to
give of ourselves in service, and so on. We teach them “what they are to do,” that is, to be obedient to God.
We are to teach them “how they are to live,” that is, to be holy.
Further, the structure is designed to
enhance our transformation in Christ. Moses said, “The people
come to me to consult God.” (Ex 18:15). We are primarily concerned about each member’s relationship with God.
It is the leadership at each level that helps feed members. As members start to mature, they go up the pastoral ladder and
are given more mature leaders who can continue to help them in their spirituality.
Moses further said, “Whenever
they have a disagreement, they come to me to have me settle the matter between them and make known to them God’s decisions
and regulations.” (Ex 18:16). Peace and unity in community is crucial. But because of people’s sinfulness, there
will always be disagreements that can lead to strife and division. Leaders help resolve these by making known God’s
ways and showing how differences are resolved in the Lord.
Serving as a team
it necessary to subdivide the community into such sub-groups?
As the community grows in number, the task becomes too
heavy for one man or a few leaders. “You will surely wear yourself out, and not only yourself but also those people
with you. The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” (Ex 18:18). When the task is too heavy, people are
not all properly attended to. Jethro gave his criticism to Moses, “Why do you sit alone while all the people have to
stand about you from morning till evening?” (Ex 18:14b). The result is a failure in adequately tending to the flock.
Both the overburdened leader and the under-cared for people suffer.
This is especially true with caring for people
who grumble, which inevitably many of us do. As the number of Israelites grew, Moses said, “But how can I alone bear
the crushing burden that you are, along with your bickering?” (Dt 1:12). When things are going great, there is not much
pressure or burden for leaders. But the world, the flesh and the devil conspire to ensure that things will not go great all
the time. Then bickering can cause a really heavy burden.
So different servant leaders at different levels have different functions. The basic purpose remains the same, that is,
to help brethren be more deeply transformed in Christ, but there is a sharing of work, a team effort, to accomplish this.
“They rendered decisions for the people in all ordinary cases. The more difficult cases they referred to Moses, but
all the lesser cases they settled themselves.” (Ex 18:26).
When the pastoral-organizational structure is working
well, then the community is well poised to do the mission God assigns it. “If you do this, when God gives you orders
you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (Ex 18:23). The heavy burden will
be shared, both leaders and people will not be worn out, everyone will be satisfied, and community is able to carry out its
Choosing servant leaders
How are servant leaders to be chosen?
gives four basic qualifications. “But you should also look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy
men who hate dishonest gain” (Ex 18:21a).
First, servant leaders are able. This means that they are “technically” competent for the task. Since this is
spiritual work, this means they are growing in their own spirituality, ahead of those whom they are caring for, so that they
have something to give. Moses expounds: “So I took outstanding men of your tribes, wise and experienced, and made them
your leaders as officials over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties and over tens, and other tribal officers.” (Dt1:15). They have the human intelligence to understand teachings and our ways, but more especially they manifest wisdom that
is from on high. They are experienced not in the sense of having already done the task assigned to them, but in what they
have learned as they moved up the pastoral ladder, as they grew in spirituality and service.  They are outstanding in the sense that they stand out among their peers, from among whom they are chosen.
servant leaders are God-fearing. They have a personal relationship with Jesus as Savior and Lord, they are obedient to God,
and they live their lives and conduct their service under the inspiration and strength of the Holy Spirit. They are striving to live righteous lives, and desire to be holy as God is holy. They
are living out their family lives according to God’s ways.
Third, servant leaders are trustworthy. They have
been entrusted with the pastoral care of the flock, and desire to do their task willingly and not grudgingly. They will work
without having to be pushed, without their overseers looking over their shoulders, with initiative and enthusiasm. They are
loyal to God and to community, and will not betray their Covenant and our Core Values.
Fourth, servant leaders hate dishonest gain. They are not in this for money, power, prestige, position or acclamation. Their
single desire is to please God and to serve His people. They live lives of integrity. They will not move up in pastoral leadership
through deception, lies and half-truths, through being a toady, or through power politics. They will never deprive God of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him alone.
task at hand
CFC-FFL has been raised by God to do His work in this third millennium. We are to renew
the family and to defend life. This is an awesome task, befitting an awesome
God. We are mere instruments, but how we respond will determine how we will experience the anointing and power of God.
has built a large army that will grow larger still. For peace, order and unity, God has given us our pastoral-organizational
structure, and our call as servant leaders. We will do well to make such a structure work.
Let us listen to what Jethro
has taught us, and what Moses has demonstrated to us.
“Now, listen to me, and I will
give you some advice,
that God may be with you.”
“May the Lord, the God of
increase you a thousand times over,
and bless you as he promised!”
 This is so much like people, even renewed Christians, who often grumble in times of adversity even as they have experienced
so much blessings from God.
 5 couples more or less.
 5 households more or less.
 When we say “tens” we mean several 10s. When we say “fifties” we mean several 50s. But when we
say “hundreds,” it can mean 100 or 300 or 500. So here we presume 5 units, more or less.
 In the same way as “hundreds,” when we say “thousands,” we usually mean several thousands. A cluster
of 5 chapters will already number around 1,250 people, more or less. A district of 5 clusters will number around 6,250 people.
In CFC-FFL there is no limit to the number of clusters in a district. Thus “thousands” can go to any number.
 See paper on “Roles of District Pastoral Leadership.”
 In CFC-FFL, aside from the basic district pastoral leadership, there are many other servant leaders, such as core team members, coordinators,
 For example, a Household Servant would have been a member of a household for at least a year, who would have experienced
many household meetings and would know how they were handled. With adequate training and such experience, they are qualified
for the task.
 In certain unusual situations, we may appoint leaders who are not experienced. For example, when starting in a new territorial
area and our first CLS results in a big harvest, some CLS graduates might already be assigned as Household Servants. With proper guidance and regular pastoral support, we hope
such leaders will quickly learn on the job.
 When looking for a new Household Servant, we look at the members and see who among them might be ready to now take on servant leadership. This is the same pattern at higher levels of leadership.
 In Tagalog, “sipsip.”
 In Tagalog, “palakasan.”
FROM THE SERVANT
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
WASHING THE FEET
reading (Jn 13:1-15), we have one of the clearest lessons on servant leadership, taught and demonstrated by Jesus himself.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
People during Jesus’ time traveled by foot on unpaved roads. They stepped
on dust, mud and dung. When entering into homes, it was customary to wash their feet. It was such a lowly task that it would
not even be required of the lowliest slave in the household.
Thus it was that when Jesus came to Peter to wash his
feet, Peter objected vehemently, “You will never wash my feet.” (Jn 13:8a).
Taking the lowest
By washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus demonstrated servant
leadership. Jesus took the lowest place.
At the end, Jesus gave his lesson on servant leadership. “You
call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher,
have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” (Jn 13:13-14).
Jesus knew well enough the
fallen human nature’s inclination to power and position. This would be especially true of those given leadership positions.
Had not an argument in fact broken out among the apostles as to whom should be regarded as the greatest (Lk 22:24)?
would be using his apostles powerfully for the spread of Christianity and
the building of the Church. They would be great missionaries and founders of Christian communities. They would occupy places
of prominence in the Church hierarchy, with Peter becoming the first pope. It was time to impress upon them the true meaning
of servant leadership. It was to be a lesson they would never forget.
What is servant
First, it does not belittle the position of being a leader. Jesus affirmed the apostles’ recognition
of him as teacher and master, saying, “rightly so, for indeed I am.” (Jn 13:13). Such positions of leadership
are important in the work of the Church. We need not be apologetic or embarrassed in being recognized as leaders.
second, it recognizes that to be a leader is to be a servant. As Jesus said, “I, therefore, the master and teacher,
have washed your feet” (Jn 13:14a).
What does it mean for a leader to be a servant?
“took off his outer garments” (Jn 13:4a). Our outer garments are often our expressions of position, power and
acclaim. It might be the expensive branded shirt, the medals and insignia, or the bejeweled cape. Some of these might have
been given to us as well-deserved expressions of appreciation and honor. But when we serve, we shed these. We do not stand
on privilege and pomp. We are just servants.
Jesus “took a towel and tied it around his waist.” (Jn 13:4b).
It is not a sword or a gun that we have around out waist, which are instruments of power and domination. Rather, it is a towel,
a standard tool of servants. When we serve, even as we do exercise authority and indeed power, we are not authoritarian or
dictatorial or domineering.
Jesus knelt before his apostles to be able to wash their feet. Jesus literally took the
lowest place. Jesus humbled himself before those who were his subordinates. When we serve, no task is too menial for us.
“poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet” (Jn 13:5). What Jesus did was degrading
work. It was also an allusion to his humiliating death on the cross. Jesus did not look to acclaim or glory which he richly
deserved. Rather, he embraced the cross, with all its pain and shame. When we serve, our only concern should be those whom
we serve, and we look not to our own comfort and privilege. We serve simply in order that those we serve may be refreshed,
cared for and loved. And if ever such service causes us great difficulty and even pain, then it is cause for rejoicing.
washed the feet of even his betrayer Judas. Jesus “knew who would betray him” (Jn 13:11a), but he washed the feet
of Judas anyway. When we serve, we do not discriminate against those who do not like us, or who do not respect us, or who
have done us wrong.
Jesus told Peter, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
(Jn 13:8b). The ultimate aim of our service is to help bring people to their eternal reward. Our service is centered and founded
on Christ. Our pastoral care is intended to help people grow
in holiness and righteousness unto the Lord. We extend to people the love
of Jesus, in order that they might grow in that love. We help bring them to their true relationship as children of
the Father, being able to take hold of their eternal inheritance.
A lesson to be learned, a model to be
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to give them a lesson they would never forget. Though
washing of the feet is done in churches every Holy Thursday, it is not
meant to be done literally for those who are servant leaders. Though there might be occasions that will call for it, we do
not normally go around actually washing the feet of those whom we serve. The “washing of feet” is not external
but rather an internal disposition of the heart.
Servant leadership is a posture that calls for humility and
unconditional loving service.
Because this is not easy to do, because the temptation to pride and authoritarianism
is something that will always beset us, Jesus needed to demonstrate what he wanted us to learn. “I have given you a
model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (Jn 13:15). In his call to service as leaders,
Jesus now directs us, “you ought to wash one another’s feet.” (Jn 13:14b).
We ought to realize
what a great privilege it is to be given the opportunity to serve. Because Jesus loves his people, he touches their lives,
even directly without the intervention of others. But Jesus calls us to service perhaps not so much for the good of others
so that they might become pleasing to God (though using human instruments certainly is God’s way), but for us to
have the opportunity to be pleasing to God.
Jesus says, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet
washed, for he is clean all over” (Jn 13:10a). People can be purified and can attain to holiness without us. But God
gives us such people to have their feet washed, so that we may have the opportunity to do so. When we serve, it is for our
good as well as for the good of those whom we serve.
Such servant leadership is a radical overturning of the
wisdom of the world. We might object like Peter. We might find the demands of servant leadership unreasonable or even unacceptable.
But Jesus tells us, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” (Jn 13:7).
us take to heart the lesson that Jesus is teaching us. And be assured, if you humble yourself, you will understand.
April 9, 2009
FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
TENDING THE FLOCK
What is the work of servant leaders? Here is the instruction of the first pope.
Here in a nutshell
are the marching orders for servant leaders. What does it mean?
I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in
the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have
it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when
the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Pt 5:1-4)
Peter is addressing presbyters.
Presbyters are the officially appointed leaders and teachers of the Christian community. They were appointed for each church
that was set up by the apostles (Acts 14:23), and later for each church in every town set up by others mandated by the apostles
(Ti 1:5). The presbyters shared with the apostles in the governance of the whole Church (Acts 15:6,22,23).
(presbyteros) were also called bishops (episkopos) (Ti 1:5,7; Acts 20:17,28).
The Greek term episkoposmeans “one who oversees” or “one who supervises.”
communities such as CFC-FFL, the overseer of the particular community in the diocese is the District Head, supported by the
Chapter Heads for the local communities in the parishes. However, there are also many other functions that are categorized
as overseers, or “elders,” or “seniors” (in current CFC-FFL usage). Further, there are also other
positions of servant leadership.
As a Catholic movement that is fully a part of the Roman
Catholic Church, CFC-FFL’s seniors and members are subject to the overall authority of the Church hierarchy.
The people of God
In our work of leading people, one of the most important
aspects is to realize that we are taking care of the flock of God. God’s people belong to Him, not to
us. This has certain ramifications.
First, it is such a great privilege. We do the very work of God! We care for God’s
own people! God puts us in His place with regard to the well-being of His people. God takes a chance on us, entrusting to
us the people He loves and whom Jesus died for. We become instruments of His grace and blessings to others.
it is such a great responsibility. God went to extreme lengths to win salvation for all, sending His very own Son Jesus to
the cross. God wants all to be saved and to make it home to heaven. But first they have to travel the narrow path in a world that is in darkness. That is a great challenge, and many people lose their
way. Jesus now enlists us to help his flock along that path. Though every person needs to take responsibility for his own
response to Jesus, God intends His servant leaders to play a big role as well.
Third, we are not free to care for people
the way we want to or the way we believe is best. We care for them according to how God would have cared for
them. That necessitates that we know God and His ways more and more. We shed off our secular minds and put on the mind of
Christ. We eschew worldly wisdom and take on godly wisdom, which many times can lead us to be fools
The flock of God
Jesus is the chief Shepherd and we are delegated co-workers. The people
of God are the flock. This speaks about the kind of care that we are to give. It is pastoral care. What does this mean?
us consider the role of a shepherd. Since Jesus is the chief Shepherd, we look to his definition. Jesus says, “I am
thegood shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (Jn 10:11).
Jesus pins down the most basic requirement for a shepherd, and that is, to be willing to lay down one’s life for the
flock. This is the call to unilateral, unconditional and self-sacrificial love. We are to be ready to give our all, without
holding anything back, even our very lives.
Practically speaking, how do we give pastoral care to those under us?
Peter gives some particulars.
First, we do it not by constraint but willingly. Servant leadership is something we volunteer
to do, because we want to serve Jesus and God’s people. We are not just ordered to take on this service, we are not
compelled, but rather we are requested to do so. We are not just forced into it by circumstances, though at times circumstances
conspire to bring out what is good in us with regard to serving. We do not grudgingly accept to serve, while repressing our
negative feelings, but rather we joyfully take on the challenge.
Second, we do it not for shameful profit. It is not
a job, it is not a secular undertaking, it is not to carry out our own agenda. Our only profit should be our reward in heaven,
and on earth the satisfaction that we have served. Any focus on our own personal benefit, whether material or otherwise, would
be a shame. Thus we never look to personal advantage, whether making money, having power and influence, building turf, being
acclaimed, or the like.
Third, we do it eagerly. This means enthusiasm, zeal, intense interest, strong and urgent desire,
quick responsiveness. The task is important. We are standing in for Jesus himself. Our efforts can have eternal consequences.
It is one of the best things we can do in our lives. It is worth investing our time and effort.
Fourth, we do not lord
it over those under us. Though we have God’s authority, it is given so we can serve. Though we are authoritative, we
are not authoritarian. Though we issue directives, we are not dictators. Though we pastor, we do not run the lives of people.
Though subordinates are to obey their leaders, we do not seek blind obedience. Though we correct, we are open to correction,
even from subordinates. Though we are leaders, we are servants. Though we are first, we are the least of all.
we are to be examples to the flock. We live what we teach. We model how to follow Jesus. Though we face personal challenges
in responding to God, we are on our walk towards holiness.
We see that in all of these, Peter stresses the proper
attitude or posture. He is not after the technicalities of doing a job, that is, what tasks to perform, though those would
be important as well, but rather he is concerned about the condition of the servant’s heart. If the heart is right,
then everything else would fall into place.
Servant leadership is hard and challenging work.
Many times it seems unrewarding, as even the people we serve would not appreciate what we do for them. Thus Peter even mentions
his being “witness to the sufferings of Christ.” Jesus is the chief Shepherd and so is our model. He is the suffering
servant (Is 53:3-11). He was spurned, stricken, afflicted, crushed, oppressed and condemned. But precisely through his suffering,
he justified many (Is 53:11b). We walk the way of Jesus. As such, we open ourselves to affliction for the sake of others.
God is never outdone in generosity. In His love and justice, He also rewards those who serve. As such, Peter counts himself
as “one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.”
We do spiritual work so we receive spiritual wages.
We look forward to the unfading crown of glory, to be given by the chief Shepherd himself. This is a great treasure, far surpassing
any material rewards. This is wonderful recognition, not by worldly acclaim, but by God Himself. This is satisfaction not
only for the moment, but for all eternity.
Just like Peter, as your co-servant, I thus exhort the servant leaders
among you: go tend to the flock in your midst.
(March 22, 2009)
FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM
all called to be servants of the Master, argued among themselves on who was the greatest (Mk 9:33-34; Mt 18:1; Lk 9:46). Jesus
said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (Mk 9:35). Then
Jesus took a child and gave them their lesson. “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will
not enter the kingdom
of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:3-4).
is it about a child that Jesus wants to teach us about servant leadership? What is it about a child wherein unless we become like one we cannot enter the
kingdom of heaven?
Once again, Jesus turns our world topsy-turvy. To be first is to be last. To be the leader
is to be the servant. To be great is to be like a child. While the world expects us to grow up, Jesus expects us to become
like little children. While the world urges us to become somebody important, Jesus directs us
to become a nobody (children were on the low end of the social ladder during those times).
What is Jesus pointing out
about servant leadership?
leadership demands purity of heart.
Little children, though some of them can
be real brats, are basically pure of heart. They are not yet prone to the wickedness and evil that adults manifest. They do
not know how to insult, malign, be intolerant, plot against others, seek revenge, or the like.
On the other hand, relationships
in the world are characterized by lying, cheating, cover-ups, hidden agendas, taking advantage of others, and the like. Even
leaders in the church are not immune from such, leading to much conflict and strife.
But servant leaders, in their
personal conduct and service, are called to be pure of heart and intention. They must not be out for power, position or privilege.
They must not look to build turf. They should not have any personal agenda or ulterior motives. They should simply want to
Second, servant leadership demands total dependence on God our Father.
Little children on their own are basically helpless. They
need their parents to feed, clothe and protect them. This too is our basic relationship with God. We are nothing without God, and apart from Jesus we can
do nothing (Jn 15:5). The good news is that we simply need to ask our Father for what we need, and we are assured He will
provide us all good things (Mt 7:7-11).
The world abhors dependence on anyone other than self. The great leader is
the independent, self-made man. But for servant leaders, it is precisely their dependence on God that enables them to become
His instruments. It is precisely their weakness that enables His strength and power to be experienced in their lives.
servant leadership demands humility.
Little children have nothing to brag about. They have no accomplishments, no money,
no developed talents, no family influence, no extended circle of admirers. Their opinion, advice or counsel is not sought.
Now Jesus teaches, “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever
exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mt 23:11-12).
in the world is accompanied by pride. Pride in human achievement, pride in accomplishing something out of one’s own
strength, pride in besting everyone else. But the servant leader recognizes that all achievements are due to the blessing
of God. Paul puts it this way: “Who confers distinction upon you? What do you possess that you have not received? But
if you have received it, why are you boasting as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor 4:7).
It is humbling to be
totally dependent. But this dependence of ours on God is actually such a great privilege. And it is the acknowledgment of
this dependence, resulting in humility, that is the key to even more of God’s favor and power. As Jesus says, “for everyone who exalts himself will
be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 18:14b). Therefore our response should be that as
directed by Peter: “And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘God
opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Pt 5:5b-6).
Fourth, servant leadership demands obedience.
are simply told what to do and are expected to follow and obey.
Now Jesus teaches that “whoever obeys and teaches
these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:19b).
Christians call Jesus their
Lord. But many Christians do not live their lives with Jesus as actually Lord. A requirement of the lordship of Jesus in our
lives is obedience to his commands. Many Christians need to seriously consider and answer Jesus’ question, “Why
do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?” (Lk 6:46). We will need to come to terms with
and be sobered by Jesus’ warning: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom
of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father
in heaven.” (Mt 7:21).
Servant leaders call Jesus their Master. They should act only in accordance with
the directions of Jesus. They are to obey without reservation. They are to give their all without holding back in any way.
does want us to be great. God does want us to perform great works for the kingdom. But God has His own standards.
Do you want to be first? Then be the last.
- Not the first but the last.
- Not to be served but to serve.
- Not pride but humility.
- Not independence but total dependence on God.
- Not being a lord but the servant of all.
- Not doing it our way but God’s way.
- Not indulging self but embracing the cross.
you want to be great? Then be the servant of all.
(February 27, 2009)
To be a servant leader is to first of all be a disciple of Jesus. Since servant leaders are entrusted
with Jesus’ flock, then they need to reflect the mind of heart of the Chief Shepherd himself. Since as leaders they
are servants, they need to look to the example of Jesus, who declared that he came not to be served but to serve.
FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
BEING A DISCIPLE
Christian leadership is being able to serve, not as a leader (or at least not as a secular
leader), but as a servant.
How do we become a true disciple of Jesus? He himself instructed us:
If we desire to come
after Jesus, that is, to be his disciple, then there are three things we need to do.
wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mk 8:34)
be a disciple, we first of all need to deny self.
To deny self is to not look to our own welfare, well-being, interest,
desires or gratification. It is to turn our back on ourself. It is to count ourself as nothing.
Now such a posture
does not exist in a vacuum. If so, then it is just a lack of true self-worth or it is just self-flagellation, which are negative
and not good. Rather, such a posture is in relation to Christ. Christ is everything and our life is attuned and offered to
Christ. In that sense, then there is no place for self.
In doing so, however, we gain everything, since Jesus himself will be the one to take care of us. And
certainly God can take so much better care of ourselves than we ever can on our own. This in fact is what salvation is all
about. God has redeemed us on the cross, thus purchasing us with the precious
blood of Jesus. We now belong totally to Jesus. We are his slaves. As such we are to expend our whole life for Christ.
We are to live for him and we are to live to proclaim him to others.
- “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
Letting go of self and taking hold of God is
how we attain to the fullness of salvation. Such is the divine contradiction.
to save our life is to live for self. It is the opposite of self-denial. It is what will ultimately cause us to lose the very
life that we desire to save.
- “For whoever wishes to save his
life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mk 8:35)
In what ways do we as servant leaders fail to deny ourselves?
Self-denial is what
enables us to love God with our all, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Loving God with our all leaves no room for self.
But God shares the love we give Him with others our neighbors and ultimately our own selves.
- When we serve God
with a personal hidden agenda.
- When we look to power and position.
- When we look to being glorified and applauded.
we look to being recognized and thanked for our work.
- When we do not submit to those over us (note: we look to active
submission, and not blind obedience).
- When we refuse an assignment simply because we do not like it or have another
- When we look to comfort and convenience, or are limited by comfort zones.
- When we fail to give
our all, without counting the cost.
- When we insist on our own way, contrary to what is right.
- When we are
unable to let an insult pass.
- When we nurse our hurts.
- When we fail to forgive.
Self-denial is what
allows us to give our very lives for the cause of Christ. It is what allows us to focus only on Christ in everything. Our
life and service is not about ourselves but about Jesus alone. “He must increase; I must decrease.” (Jn 3:30).
is what enables us to give our lives for others. In this we fulfill the very commandment of Jesus, to love one another as
he has loved us, and to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (Jn 15:12-13).
The true servant leader,
one who is a disciple, denies self, even life itself, in order to serve God and the gospel
of Jesus Christ.
self is to not embrace self. Once we have denied ourselves, then we are ready to embrace something else other than self. Our
arms, and our hearts, are not full of ourselves. They are empty.
- “Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry
that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)
Now we are able to embrace the cross.
To be a disciple, the second thing we need to do is to take up our cross.
There is only one way
of taking up the cross or carrying the cross, and that is to embrace
it. With both hands and arms. With the horizontal bar across one’s chest. With the wood weighing down on one’s
whole being. The cross is to be clasped tightly, otherwise it will fall away from one’s shoulder.
And of course
the cross is to be embraced, because it is the instrument of salvation.
One who decides to deny self and give his
all to God will inevitably encounter the cross. This is because the cross is the very way of salvation. The cross is the very
message of Jesus Christ. The cross is the very way of life of a committed Christian disciple.
One who serves to proclaim
the gospel will encounter hardships and trials. One who is committed to Christ’s ways will inevitably be persecuted.
Paul asserts this as a matter of fact. “In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
(2 Tm 3:12). This is because fallen humanity is antagonistic to God, and the evil one stokes such antagonism.
cross is something that we cannot avoid, if we are to live for God. Indeed, as Paul and Barnabas asserted, “It is necessary
for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b).
And so it is that one who decides
to serve God will inevitably have to embrace the cross. In fact, just like Paul, it is our very participation in the salvific
work of God, and we are to rejoice in such a privilege. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh
I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister
in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God” (Col 1:24-25).
what ways then, as servant leaders, are we called to embrace the cross?
The cross is our way to be purified. The way of the cross is the way of holiness. It is the only way for the servant leader.
- By not counting the cost of service.
giving our all for the cause of Christ, even unto death.
- By rejoicing even in the most trying of circumstances. “Consider
it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials” (Jas 1:2).
- By not retaliating in kind whenever insulted
or maligned. “Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you
were called, that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Pt 3:9).
- By gladly accepting and being thankful for fraternal
- By continuing to care for those placed under us even is they do not appreciate what we do or even speak
- By enduring and persevering through the trials and tribulations of life, focused only on Christ and his
- By having hope amidst lamentations.
- By accepting seeming defeats while looking to the inevitable victory
- By accepting humiliation, abandonment and desolation according to God’s will.
- By continuing
to serve even when ignored, forgotten or unrewarded.
self-denial and embrace of our cross, we are now ready to follow Jesus, all the way and wherever he may lead us.
So the third aspect of discipleship is following Jesus.
follow Jesus is to obey him, to live according to his ways, to reflect him in all we think, say and do.
by definition, is one who is obedient. He obeys the master. How can one be a servant if one is not obedient?
ways do we as servant leaders obey and follow our Lord and Master Jesus?
Being a disciple
evangelize and do mission. “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15).
proclaim Christ in everything we say and do, including by means of a silent witness.
- We care for those placed under
us according to how God would. “Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as
God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.” (1 Pt 5:2).
- We do not lord it over our subordinates.
“Do not lord it over those assigned to you” (1 Pt 5:3a).
- We are living examples of paternal/fraternal
leadership. We are to “be examples to the flock” (1 Pt 5:3b).
- We submit to and respect those over us.
“Obey your leaders and defer to them” (Heb 13:17a).
- We are single-minded and single-hearted for mission.
We are not deterred by disappointments, or even betrayals.
- We do not hold grudges against brethren but continue to
serve and love those placed under our care.
- We rejoice in the privilege of suffering for Christ. “But even if
you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you.” (1 Pt 3:14a).
- We strive for holiness unto the
Lord. “Like obedient children, … as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct,
for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” (1 Pt 1:14-15).
we wish to come after Jesus, then the way forward is clear. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. If
we carry our cross and follow Jesus all the way to Calvary, and in our life participate in his salvific work through our sufferings
and dying to self, then we can truly say:
The true disciple, the one who is a genuine servant leader, is the one who not
only lives for Christ, but one in whom Christ lives. He has denied self, such that there is nothing more of self to come in
the way of serving Christ. He has embraced the cross, such that there is no suffering that cannot be endured for the sake
of Christ. He has followed Jesus, such that there is no other Teacher, Master or Lord, who will direct his life and work.
- “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ
lives in me” (Gal 2:19b-20a)
all of us who have responded to the call to leadership be true disciples and servants
February 17, 2009
FROM THE SERVANT GENERALOne
of the most important aspects of servant leadership is integrity. What is integrity? It is a word often used, but superficially
understood, and not so much appreciated in its depth of meaning.
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
The dictionary defines it as "uprightness of character."
Another definition is "firm adherence to a code especially moral or artistic values. Synonyms given are probity, incorruptibility
I would offer my own definition. Integrity is living the
truth in word, thought and deed.
For us to better appreciate the meaning
of integrity, let me give some instances that point to a lack of it. Here I do not speak of what is obvious-such as
dishonesty, corruption or moral failures. Rather, these are instances that are committed even by supposedly renewed and God-loving
Christians, who are serving Him and the Church.
A Lack of IntegritySpeaking
Lying is a sin. In fact, since Satan is "the father of lies" (Jn 8:44),
one who is a liar exchanges his sonship under the Father for that of Satan. But what is more diabolical is deliberately speaking
half-truths. This, in a way, is worse than an outright lie, because it manipulates the truth, twisting it to one's own ends.
Because it is based on a truth, and on the surface might seem like the truth, it becomes more deceptive, and can lead many
Let me give an example. There was a person who had attacked and betrayed me who suddenly found himself
sitting in a plane right beside me. Throughout the 4-hour flight, he slept (or pretended to be asleep), not eating nor taking
a comfort break. When the plane landed, he bolted out of his seat and closeted himself in the toilet, until all had disembarked
from the plane. It was obvious that he did not want to speak to me, or felt ashamed to do so. Later, he made two claims that
were half-truths. One, he said I was seated beside him for 4 hours but did not speak to him! Two, to another audience, he
said it was evidence of our friendship and continuing acquaintance that we were even seated together in the plane.
both occasions, he told the truth, that we were seated together and that I did not speak to him (not wanting to bother him
if he was truly tired, I was waiting for him to wake so we could talk). But on both occasions, he was lying, giving a false
impression, deliberately twisting the reality, misleading his listeners.
Truth is of God, as Jesus himself is the truth
(Jn 14:6a). On the other hand, lies are of the devil, who "is a liar" (Jn 8:44). To lie is already a grave sin. To manipulate
or use the truth in order to lie is even graver.
Saying yes but doing no
Have you ever said yes to something
but then did not follow through and did not do what had been agreed on? Now I am not talking about circumstances changing
from the time you said yes to the time when you were about to act on it. In such a case, we simply go back to the person we
had an agreement with, and work it out.
What makes it a failure in integrity?
Saying yes but
not following through is worse than just saying no. With the latter, at least the other party knows how you stand. With the
former, the other party is deluded into thinking all is well when all is not. And of course, it adversely affects how things
move forward, as seemingly agreed on by the parties.
- If you were just saying yes, but
in your heart and mind you had no intention of doing what was agreed on.
- If you were just saying yes in order to get
the discussion over with, to set aside all opposition, or to put closure to a contentious situation.
- If you were just
saying yes in order to lull the opposition to a false sense of acceptance, but with the intent to ultimately get your own
- If you might have had the intention to act, but later decided to renege, because this was to your personal advantage.
you ignore or maneuver your way out of what was agreed.
- If you put your own interpretation on what was agreed and
carry on accordingly, knowing that it is different from the mind of the one with whom you agreed.
Jesus told the parable
of the two sons (Mt 21:28-31a). The first said no but then changed his mind
and did what his father asked him. The second said yes but did not go. The first did the father's will but the second did
not. Now consider this: if the first son had not changed his mind, then he too would not have done his father's will. But
the posture of the second son would still have been worse, since he said yes but reneged, since he in effect deceived his
father, since by his yes his father was not able to decide on an alternative so the work would be done. The second son failed
This is about being double-faced or hiding behind a mask. It is saying one
thing and meaning another. It is putting up false appearances. It is living a lie.
Some examples of this are:
Another word for being plastic is hypocrisy. It is not only pretending
to be what one is not, but it is worse than that. It is outright deception.
piously while deliberately living sinfully. This is not to speak about the sins that we all commit from time to time, even
as we might not want to.
- Extolling people while thinking ill of them or cursing them under your breath. This does
not refer to the courtesy and respect that we ought to accord to people, because of their inherent dignity as children of God, even if we do not get along with them. We should still be nice to people we have
- Encouraging people to Christian generosity while living selfishly.
- Embracing and patting people
on the back while planting a knife on their backs.
Jesus severely condemned the Pharisees and scribes for their hypocrisy (Lk 11:39ff). This was especially so because they were
teachers of the law and ought to have known better. Where much is given, much is expected. Thus servant leaders are called
to the highest order of integrity.
The opposite of being plastic is being authentic. So say what you mean, and mean
what you say. Live in the light and truth of God's ways.
Own agenda, not the Lord's
We are the Lord's
servants. We serve His agenda. One who looks to a personal or hidden agenda is one who lacks integrity.
Jesus has already instructed
us how we are to serve Him. First we follow Him by denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily (Lk 9:23). Then, when we
go on mission, we are to be "lean and mean," taking nothing unnecessary and relying on the generosity of those we serve (Mt
10:9-11), being detached and completely reliant on God (Lk 9:3). This is God's agenda, even for those wonderful souls who
respond to His call to service. This is how God wants mission and Christian work to be done. We cannot insist on our own way
of doing things. And worse, doing things our own way while proclaiming that we allegedly are doing it for God.
- In what ways
does one serve his own agenda?
- Seeking power or position, or looking to prestige or pay, in doing Christian service.
to be recognized or rewarded for one's service, and feeling resentful when this does not happen.
- Making decisions
not for the good of the body but to consolidate one's position or to build turf.
- Stealing money from God. This includes
outright theft as well as improper handling of tithes and donations for Christian
- Spending community funds lavishly for one's own comfort for mission (travel, accommodation, mission
transport, food, etc.).
- Maligning others in order to promote one's cause. This is especially grave when there is no
truth to what is being said.
- Having a political agenda in helping the poor.
had his own agenda in following Jesus. Though he might have genuinely been looking for the messiah, he was also a thief, helping
himself to the money contributed for Jesus' mission (Jn 12:6). He compounded this sin by feigning righteousness and love for
the poor, complaining about the waste of costly perfumed oil used to anoint the feet
of Jesus (Jn 12:3-5).
Judas betrayed Jesus, accepting money from the chief priests (Lk 22:3-6). When Jesus spoke
about his coming betrayal, Judas even feigned innocence (Mt 26:21-25). This again compounded his failure in integrity.
forewarned. When we fail in integrity, sin will pile upon sin. We will get deeper into the hole. When we have our own agenda,
but hidden within the context of our serving the Lord, we will continually
be lying, dishing half-truths, covering up, giving disinformation. We will find ourselves in a spiral of deceit and deception
that inevitably leads to death.
Living in IntegrityTo live in integrity is
to avoid the actions that rob us of our integrity, such as stated above. However, integrity is not just about avoidance, but
is about compliance. It is complying with the way of God for us.
Integrity relates to the word integral, which denotes
a situation of being unimpaired, or wholeness, of soundness, of being undivided. This is how God would have us.
the end, integrity is all about morality, living according to the truth of
God and His ways. In the end, integrity is all about righteousness and holiness. Such is the way of God; such is the
way to God.
- Structurally sound according to God's design.
- Undivided in love for and loyalty to God.
Integrity has to do with our relationship with God, and therefore, also with our relationship with each other,
especially within the context of community. Living the truth of God's
ways and His call to us as community, integrity is essential for the proper functioning of the body.
- It is being preserved in honesty and virtue (Ps 25:21a).
- It is walking without blame (Ps 26:1a).
is the way by which we can look to God's support and being allowed in His presence forever (Ps 41:13).
- It is the only
way we can continue to serve God (Ps 101:6b).
- It is the way by which we can assure happiness for our children (Prv
Eliphaz the Temanite said to Job: "Is not your piety a source of confidence, and your integrity of life your
hope?" (Jb 4:6). The same is asked of us.
- It is what truly
makes us brethren, open and loyal to one another.
- It is what enables one to be a true and valuable team player, one
in our common vision and mission.
- It is what makes one trustworthy, to whom others can entrust their very lives.
is what enables us to be unique individuals with unique gifts, but who can be formed into one body that God can truly use
for His purposes.
- It is what supports and strengthens one's faithfulness to covenant and the way of life God has given
Let us realize that integrity of the highest order is the call to all Christians,
but especially to servant leaders.
Let us affirm our commitment to the kind of life God desires for us, so we can look
forward with hope, trusting only in Jesus.
"I follow the way of integrity;
I act with integrity of heart"
God bless you all.
February 10, 2009
From: CFCFFL Home Office <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 8:15:26 AM
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP (Part 2)
FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
When things are going well in community, then leaders get along fine. But when disagreements come, this
is where many fail in servant leadership. But disagreements happen all the time. In fact, it is good to have disagreements,
as long as we do not become disagreeable in handling these. Disagreements enable us to sift through a particular situation
or decision, look at new angles, hear fresh insights, and challenge our own thinking about the issue at hand. The result is
hopefully a better solution or decision, being the fruit of different minds and a thorough discussion.
more importantly, God allows disagreements in order to test the quality of our servanthood. When there is no disagreement,
then we can be very nice and agreeable. But when there is someone who opposes what we believe to be right, how do we react?
Do we become defensive? Angry? Do we dig in? Are we onion-skinned? Do we get hurt? God wants what is hidden to surface, in
order that we might address our own shortcomings and sins.
When we handle disagreements in the right way, especially
in the face of provocation and seeming unreasonable opposition, then we are on our way to greater holiness.
do we handle disagreements?
First, when someone disagrees, do not dismiss it outright, but thank God that someone
cares enough to try to come up with a better move or decision. Second, be really open to the input, looking at it as possibly
coming from the Lord. Then go and have a good discussion.
When having your discussion, here are things that you
should NOT do:
- Be defensive. If you genuinely welcome any input, then you do not have to put up any defenses. If you stand up for your
position simply because you already articulated that position, then that is pride.
- Be onion-skinned. Do not take a dissenting opinion negatively. Look at it as being given not as a personal affront but
out of a genuine desire to help out.
- Pull rank, in case you are speaking to a subordinate. He is your brother, and the Lord can speak to him as much as to
- Walk out. You may not come to an agreement, and the situation can become a bit heated, but be committed to working things
out. There is always the right way which is the Lord’s way. If things cannot as yet be resolved, shelve it for the moment
(whether for a little while or over some days) and return to it after cooling down and after praying. Or bring in others who
can help in resolving the impasse.
- Quit your service or even the community, if things do not go your way. Do not penalize and turn your back on others, including
the Lord and the community, because of your conflict with just one person.
On the other hand, here are
some things that you should DO:
- Be pure as a dove but wise as a serpent. That is, be meek and humble and pure in thought, truly open to contrary opinions,
but also fight for what you believe to be right, arguing your case strongly.
- Look on the other party as truly a brother, committed to you and to the well-being of the community. So keep cool, knowing
that you are both on the same side. Do not judge him to be a trouble-maker (he might be, but it is not up to you to judge).
- Look to our pastoral structure and system in community, which provides for ways and means of making decisions in the face
of contrary views. If the system is working, be willing to subordinate your view to the decision of a higher authority.
remember that we are appointed as leaders in order to serve the Master and to carry out His agenda, not ours. We should aggressively
stand for what we believe to be right and true, but we must always consider that we could be wrong, or that there could be
a better way than ours. Then we rejoice that there are brethren, whom the Lord provides, who can help keep us on the right
God bless you.
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Easter Group <email@example.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 5:56:49 PM
Subject: ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
FROM THE SERVANT GENERALNovember 5, 2008
My dear brethren in Christ,
One of our 7 Core Values in
CFC-FFL is Servant Leadership. This is a value that is crucial if we are to become the instruments that God can use for His
A proper understanding of Servant Leadership becomes even more critical, given what happened to us in the
crisis of 2007 and up to now. We saw how brethren who were at the highest levels of “servant leadership” suddenly
acted in unbrotherly and unchristian ways lying, maligning, slandering, attacking, oppressing. What happened? And can it happen
again? Yes, it can, for we are all too human and sinful.
And so we try to look deeper into the meaning of servant
First we see a seeming oxymoron. The words “servant” and “leader” seem opposed.
A person is either one or the other. And so to put the two words together creates a new reality that is somewhat of a contradiction.
And indeed, this is where the problem starts.
Being a leader means having position, power, influence, submission
from subordinates, and recognition. Indeed, even for a servant leader, this is part of his role. These elements are objective
realities that are not per se wrong. In fact, these are necessary for him to function well. On the other hand, being
a servant means having the lowest position, no inherent power, submission to a higher authority, and even non-recognition
of the good one does (Lk 17:10).
What leads a servant leader astray is when he looks to being a leader but not
really to being a servant. This is when he looks to pride rather than humility, to power rather than powerlessness, to being
first rather than being last, to being applauded rather than anonymously doing his work. This is where he lords it over people.
This is when he becomes more concerned about how people look up to him, rather than on how he can look to his people and serve
their needs. In other words, the focus is now on himself as leader rather then on others as their servant.
Jesus is the servant leader par excellence. And the text we often quote is the lesson he gave to his disciples, when
James and John, with their mother, tried to secure places of honor at his right and left. Jesus told them, “You know
that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not
be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you
shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus gave the principle: the great will be the servant, the first shall be the slave. Then he
gave himself as an example. He would model servant leadership. Even if he was the Master, he came to serve rather than be
served. Finally, he said what could be the key phrase for our deeper understanding of servanthood, and that is, Jesus would
give his life as a ransom.
What do we think of when one speaks of ransom? We think of kidnapping (Abu Sayyaf
in the Philippines) or hijacking (Somali pirates in the gulf of Aden). For them to release their captives, whether persons
or ships or goods, a ransom is demanded. The ransom is given by someone who has an interest in the person or thing being ransomed.
The ransom paid then passes into the total control of the kidnapper or hijacker, to do with as he wills.
with Jesus, this is what happened. We were under the dominion of Satan. In a way, since our natural environment as children
of God is heaven, we were abducted. Jesus then offered himself, suffered and died for us, paid the price, and secured our
How about us? As servant leaders, we too are to give our life as ransom. What does that mean?
Remember: a ransom, though having value of itself, in this particular context has
value only in relation to the person or thing being ransomed, that is, only as it can provide relief or well-being to the
captive. A ransom becomes a mere commodity, an instrument to be used. A ransom substitutes itself for the captive, putting
itself in place of the captive, in order to secure the latter’s release. A ransom loses its freedom in order to secure
freedom for the captive. A ransom gives up its own “life” in order to save the captive from “death.”
expend ourselves for the good of others, having the utmost concern for their well-being, especially spiritually.
hold nothing back, even our very lives.
- We give up all human desire for power, position and influence; we look not
to human acclaim nor to protection of our reputation.
- We serve even when those we serve do not appreciate us or might
even act negatively toward
This is what Jesus did. And in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we see the very fact of how Jesus exercised servant
Being a ransom
involves death to self, in order to give life to another.
- “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be
grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:6-8)
Servant leaders are called to expend themselves for
the sake of those they serve. And though their service is what brings benefit to those served, what is important, for the
servant leaders’ own sake, is knowing who or what they are rather than looking to what they do. Knowing and living out
who they are supposed to be is what will keep them on the right track. What they are able to do then simply proceeds from
who or what they are. While their action is to lead; their identity is to be a servant.
A servant leader is not
so much about serving as a leader, but rather leading as a servant. Or put another way, a servant leader is not so much about
a leader who serves, but rather about a servant who leads.
The call to servant leadership is a wonderful calling.
It is the very way of Jesus. It is God’s way of caring for His people. Servant leaders are needed in order to accomplish
God’s plan for the life of the world.
Let those who are privileged to be so called never forget that in
the kingdom of God, the greatest is always the least. And those whom the Lord will exalt are only those who have been humbled.
May we be worthy to be the Lord’s servant leaders. God bless you all.