Strong Servant Leadership


Strong Servant Leadership

Highlights from Chapter 6 in Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century by Aubrey Malphurs

"A Great Commission vision is vital to any planted church. From the outset, it provides a sense of direction for the church--everyone knows where the church is going. But it takes leadership excellence to implement this vision." (96)

A Leader

"Christian leaders are godly persons (character) who know where they are going (direction) and have followers (influence)." (97) 

Godly Character is foundational

  • Motives must include
    • spreading the gospel (Paul's example in 1 Thess 2:2)
    • pleasing God (1 Thess 2:4)
    • telling people what they need to hear (1 Thess 2:5)
    • serving God (1 Thess 2:5)
    • living in the grace of God (1 Thess 2:6) (97-98)


"When a leader has a clear idea of his direction, not only will he know where he's going, but he will also be motivated to get there. Direction consists of mission and vision." (98)

  • Ministry Mission
    • broad, brief biblical statement that drives the church
    • all ministry should fit "under it"
  • Ministry Vision
    • a clear and challenging picture of the future of the church as it can and must be (99)


Most definitions of leadership include the word influence. Malphurs cites Chuck Swindoll as writing, "At the risk of oversimplifying, I'm going to resist a long, drawn-out definition and settle on one word. It's the word influence. If you will allow me two words--inspiring influence." (100)

Influencers attract people. "When they turn and look behind them, they see people. Those who insist that they are leaders but have no one following them are not leaders at all." (100)

A Strong Servant-Leader

"Not only must church planters be strong leaders, but it's also imperative that they be strong servant-leaders." (111)

"Christ called the disciples together and said, 'you know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.' This is the Savior's evaluation of absolute leadership. He describes it as a chracteristic of pagan not Christian leaders."(112)

"The greatest example of a servant-leader is the Savior. He proved to be both a strong leader and a servant-leader. No one would question the fact that he was in charge. His entire ministry was characterized by a personal, spiritual strength." (113)

Jesus displayed a servant's heart:

  • Mark 10:45
    45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.
  • Matthew 20:25-28
    25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your •slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”
  • John 13
    Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
        2 Now by the time of supper, the Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Him. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. 4 So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. 5 Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him.
       6 He came to Simon Peter, who asked Him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?”
       7 Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t understand now, but afterward you will know.”
       8 “You will never wash my feet—ever!” Peter said.
       Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with Me.”
       9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”
       10 “One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely •clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him. This is why He said, “You are not all clean.”
       12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.
       16 “I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. 18 I’m not speaking about all of you; I know those I have chosen. But the Scripture must be fulfilled: The one who eats My bread has raised his heel against Me.


For Reflection: 

  • What is your definition of leadership? What is your definition of Christian leadership? (270)
  • What are your motives for wanting to plant a church? Are they the same as those found in 1 Thessalonians 2:2-6?
    On the contrary, after we had previously suffered, and we were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition. 3 For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. 4 Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts. 5 For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives—God is our witness— 6 and we didn’t seek glory from people, either from you or from others
  • What are you doing to develop your character? (271)



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