Servant Leaders Demonstrate Courage

Servant Leaders Demonstrate Courage

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).

One misconception that often exists regarding servant leadership is the idea that servant leaders are somehow weak. To the outside world, being both a servant and a leader is contradictory, if not impossible. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. It takes courage, strength, and humility to be a servant leader because it requires the ability to sacrifice one’s own self-interests for the good of others and the organization. In order to illustrate this, let’s take a look at the differences between the actions of self-serving and servant leaders, as it relates to courage.

Self-serving leaders lack courage for many reasons, but there are three that stand out. First, they are overly concerned about what people think of them, and as a result, they try to please everyone. Second, self-serving leaders seek to promote themselves. When self-promotion is the goal, courage is not necessary because decisions are made based on what is most expedient and easy for the leader. Third, self-serving leaders lack courage because they will not admit making mistakes for fear of looking bad. As a result, their insecurity prevents them from being transparent and vulnerable with those they lead.

On the other hand, servant leaders demonstrate a great deal of courage in how they lead themselves and others, and they are able to do so because they are clear about three things: purpose, vision, and values.  

Servant leaders know who they are at their core, and they are very clear about their reason for existence. As a result, they live and lead with a focus on doing the things that enable them to achieve the purpose for which they were created. According to Rick Warren, “Without a clear purpose you have no foundation on which you base decisions, allocate your time, and use your resources.” Servant leaders understand that God created them to serve, not to be served.

Servant leaders have a compelling picture of the future—they know where they are going long-term. As Bill Hybels says, “Vision is a picture of the future that inspires passion in people.” As a result of having a vision and demonstrating the courage necessary for acting on that vision, servant leaders are able to inspire others to join them in attempting to achieve something great for the Kingdom.

Servant leaders are clear about what is most important in life—they have a distinct set of core values that guide their actions. These values are non-negotiable, and servant leaders demonstrate courage by standing up for what they believe in, even if it means being criticized for their core beliefs. Patrick Lencioni asserts, “A core value is something you are willing to get punished for.”

If you want to inspire others and transform your organization, get clarity about who you are, where you are going, and what you believe. Then, act with courage by living out your purpose, pursuing your vision, and standing on your core values. When you demonstrate unwavering courage in these three areas, others will follow you because they will see a leader that is emulating the example set by Jesus himself.



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