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Being a servant leader within a military structure can seem like an oxymoron but it’s far more attainable and effective than one might think.

Good leaders and good leadership can make or break an organization, and no other organization relies on leadership more than the military, which survives on the chain of command in life-and-death scenarios. For Christians in the military, what does it mean to be a “godly servant”?

A Servant-Leader

Being a servant-leader in the military can seem like an oxymoron, but it’s not. Servant-leaders put their people first, winning battles for those who are under their purview. These battles can be as simple as fighting for a raise, some extra leave time, or understanding what a person is going through and doing the best you can to help. Jesus was a servant-leader, going so far as to even wash his disciples’ feet – the job of a slave!

A Clear Vision

Good leaders have a clear vision and direction for organizational momentum. Leaders must show the people below them that a clear, achievable plan is in place. This erases confusion and ambiguity within the ranks and increases productivity and trust for those in power. When people see a clear vision for their future, it allows them to focus on their tasks, creating an environment for better and better goals to be met.

[Related: Getting 5-point Clarity for the Team]

A Clear Path

Leaders must be clear of the path for their people and they must lead where they want others to follow. A strong, effective leader leads from the front and is willing to do the exact same things they ask of their people. Weak leaders delegate the undesirable jobs while scooping up the easy tasks. Authentic leaders get in the trenches when they need to. This type of leadership shows people that the leader isn’t asking the people to do anything they wouldn’t do.

Jesus Christ didn’t just ask us to forgive; he showed us what it means to forgive. And he didn’t tell us to wash others’ feet without first doing it himself.

A Leader is Last

Loyalty and respect are necessary for leaders to achieve their goals and accomplish their missions. Building respect and loyalty among people isn’t easy and requires a leader to win battles for their people. In some cases, especially in the military, these battles may be literal, but often, people need a leader to win the daily battles for them. Taking responsibility, being the last in line, and not abusing your rank to make your own life easier to the detriment of others will build respect and loyalty.

[Related: Jeff Bezos and the Golden Rule]

Being a leader is tough, especially in the military where the stakes are higher than a normal job. Fortunately, the ideals of good leadership are the same in every walk of life and position. People follow good servant-leaders. Leaders of this caliber fix organizations, remove barriers, and leave things better than they find them. True servant-leaders improve the lives of each person under them.

The best example of living our servant-leadership will always be Jesus, as his life and leadership still improves lives today.

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Share about the best boss you’ve ever had. What made them great?
  3. Share about the worst boss you’ve ever had? What made them so terrible?
  4. Identify as many differences you can between a good leader and a bad leader.
  5. How does a servant-leader instill loyalty and respect in their people? Give an example.
  6. Why does a leader need the respect of their people? Give one reason.
  7. Read Mark 10:42-45. How does Jesus describe worldly leaders? How has Jesus modeled servant leadership for us?
  8. How can you be a better servant-leader right now at work, home, or elsewhere?
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.