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3-8  Part I:  Concept and Spirituality of Servant Leadership

massive overthrow; it may be adopted quickly or gradually assimilated over many years, but it must take place.  Greenleaf rightfully contends that "The strongest, most productive institution over a long period of time is one in which, other things being equal, there is the largest amount of voluntary action in support of the goals of the institutions."6 Goals must be clear, comprehensive, understood, and enthusiastically supported.  Then people believe in the things they are doing and take the necessary action without continual direction.  Greenleaf believes institutions that achieve most of this kind of teamwork will be judged stronger than comparable institutions with less community involvement.  Congregations can expect the same high returns.

Distinguishing Servant Leadership

from Christian Discipleship

We conclude with a necessary distinction.  Congregations are not institutions in the ordinary sense, but sacred commissions, the body of Christ on earth.  Therefore the rules of man, however insightful and well motivated, are always a secondary source of guidance following prayer and scripture.  This distinction, and the resulting alignment of servant leadership within the spirituality of Christianity, is explained at the beginning of the next chapter.

Servitude and leadership are true dimensions of Christian discipleshipactive following of Christ.  But in all things discipleship precedes, creates, and guides leadership and service, however admirably and humbly the later elements are carried out.

Robert K.Greenleaf7 was an original and creative thinker to whom we are all indebted.  His intuition derived the contemporary model of servant leadership, however, is not the blueprint for this book, however dependent we are on his insight and writings.  Our inspiration is Jesus Christ.  We become servants and leaders in his name only and through his grace, not of our own free will.  We must continuously remind ourselves that all good comes from our heavenly Father.  Not by might, nor power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.  (Zechariah 4:6)

( Larry C. Spears, "Preface" and "Introduction" in Robert K. Greenleaf, The Power of Servant Leadership (San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler, 1998), pp. xix-xx, 3-4.

( Ibid., pp. 4-5.

( Ibid., pp. 5-8.

( Robert K. Greenleaf, The Power of Servant Leadership, pp. 124-126, 129-131.

( Ibid., pp. 120-121.

( Ibid., p. 51.

( Greenleaf's writings provide some evidence of his personal religious posture.  The distinction between his "spiritual search" and our conviction through faith warrants citation.  "I consider myself fortunate that my early religious training, the little that I had, did not take very well.  I arrived at my mature years with a sense of religion as something not yet found but, rather, something to be sought.  It is something that will grow as I grow.  I see belief or faith as a consequence, rather than a source.  Such faith as I have is a consequence of my own experience framed in the religious feeling that is the light of my search.  I am aware of and interested in what others have experienced and believe.  

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