A few weeks ago I raised the question of how a leader – or anyone for that matter – surrounds him/herself with good people. How do I convince the best of the best that I’m someone they want to hang out with? How would I ever earn their respect and be listened to by them?
Last weekend I was given the answer: by serving them.
The speaker on the weekend away I was at, shared the following quotation from Steve Hill:
“We’re asked to rule ourselves by dying to ourselves.
“Those that do so will have functional leadership through example and by invitation, but they will always know themselves as servants.”
He illustrated this with an example of someone in our church – let’s call him ‘Bob’. Bob was a student when he first started attending the church, and quickly came to the attention of the leaders because of his attitude: unlike many of his peers, he didn’t arrive late to church, sit at the back whispering with his friends, then head off to the pub immediately the service was over. No, he got stuck in, playing an active role in the life of the church.
Bob threw himself into serving. He joined a Bible study group, he attended prayer meetings, he encouraged others, and went out of his way to serve and bless them.
His attitude was one of servant-hearted love, and for that reason, the leadership began to give him roles of responsibility in the church – he became a small-group leader and developed great friendships with some of the leadership team.
People were willing to follow him, not because he was hugely intelligent, charismatic, good-looking or powerful, but because they respected and trusted him. People in senior positions to him soon allowed him to speak into their lives because he had shown that what he most wanted to do was to serve them.
Andy, telling us the story, reminded us of the old adage that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” – a maxim perfectly illustrated by Bob’s example.
Bob’s motivation is important, though.
He didn’t, to the best of my knowledge, plot and plan how to worm his way into the affections of the church leaders. He didn’t seek the best tactic for ingratiating himself, and serve outwardly but with a heart for making a name and a position for himself. He served because he wanted to be more like Jesus who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
If your motivation is to ‘become great’ (see Matt 20:26), you may be able to achieve that – in the eyes of man – by acting as a servant. I think the quotation above, though, captures what Jesus was really saying in the Matthew passage: when you serve in truth, and begin to love your neighbours as yourself, you begin to put their needs ahead of your own; you begin to die to yourself.
When that happens, you’ll find people are willing to listen to you and, perhaps, to follow your example.