A Servant’s Heart: What Every Great Leader Knows

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35

Although written in the Bible thousands of years ago, this truth has remained for generations. And it’s still relevant today. If you want to be great, you have to be like the least and a servant to all. It’s a truth that every great leader understands. If you’re reading this, chances are you consider yourself a leader, or at least aspire to one day do great things and be successful. I imagine this is a universal desire. While many people want to lead, not quite as many know how. Today, I’m going to let you in on a secret that every great leader knows well: what constitutes a servant’s heart.

When you think of servanthood, what comes to mind? Is it the livelihood of fairly low skilled people on the bottom of the totem pole? If this is what you think, you are poorly mistaken. Servanthood is not about a position or skill at all. It’s about an attitude. Many people are in the service industry yet have poor attitudes towards servanthood. We’ve all met them: the rude UPS worker, the frustrated government agency employee, or the annoyed waitress who can’t be bothered. Just as you can sense when a worker doesn’t want to help, so can you also easily detect when someone has a servant’s heart. Here I list 5 qualities that comprise the servant’s heart and nearly guarantee great leadership.

  1. Put others ahead of themselves. This is the beginning of servanthood. It is the ability to put other people and their desires above yourself and your own. You must be willing to put your personal agenda on hold, to be inconvenienced and interrupted for the sake of serving others. It means being intentionally aware of other people’s needs, making yourself available to them, and treating them with importance.
  2. Possess the confidence to serve. How we treat others is always a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. A servant’s heart is marked by security. He who thinks himself too good to serve, is insecure at his core. Only secure leaders can give power to others. They are confident enough in their own ability to help other people achieve their own.
  3. Initiate service to others. It isn’t saying much if you serve only when asked to or when you feel compelled. Just about anyone will serve when they feel like it. A leader with a servant’s heart initiates They anticipate needs, seize the opportunity, and serve without expecting or demanding anything in return.
  4. Is not position conscious. Leaders with a servant’s heart are not focused on their position or rank. They are not trying to “get ahead”, because this would entail leaving others behind. The true servant and leader is simply one person acting to help another. There are no hidden agendas or ulterior motives behind their work.
  5. Serves out of love. Finally, servanthood is not motivated by selfish desires or marked by manipulation. It is fueled by love. Your relationships depend on the depth of your concern for the other. When you have a servant’s heart, you are driven by love and serving others becomes second nature.

Why do you want to become a leader? Is it to benefit yourself and enjoy all of the perks that leadership brings? Or are you motivated by a desire to help others? If you want to become the kind of leader that others will follow, you will need to first become a servant. If you want to become successful on the highest level, you will need to be willing to serve on the lowest. That is the best, and only, way to form truly meaningful relationships, which are, might I add, the indisputable key to success.

The quickest way to become a servant is to start serving. Begin serving with your body and eventually your heart will catch up. Mother Teresa said it best when she said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can all do small things with great love.” Overtime, these small things add up to be a big thing. Try to perform one small act of kindness each day. Better yet, make it your goal to make at least one person’s day, every day. If you want to become a great leader, you must first learn to be a great servant.

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