Paradox of Servant Leadership

By: Jenna DeWitt

Have you ever had to write a short bio about yourself? I make writers do it all of the time when they contribute to MORF and I have read about a zillion as a social media guru ninja monkey professional. It’s always interesting to me to see how people perceive themselves and convey that identity to the world, especially under space constrictions.

Some boldly proclaim: “I am awesome! I am loved by all and am well on my way to achieving my goal of speaking/performing/writing for an audience of millions. Follow me if you want to be in the fanclub of The Next Big Thing.”

Others hide behind disclaimers: “I am nothing. Nobody of consequence. Just an average Joe with some unimportant thoughts. Follow me if you have nothing better to do.”

Is either of these biblical? Surely, as a chosen generation, a holy priesthood, sons and daughters of the King, we can claim “We rock!” as we can even approach the throne of Grace Himself with confidence. On the other hand, that same King humbled Himself to be born in a barn, consistently exhorted the meek and low, declared the “first shall be last” and divinely inspired those that proclaimed “I am not, but I know I AM.”

Perhaps our identity lies somewhere between the two extremes of greatness and nothingness. We lead with confidence because we know Him. We serve with humbleness because we know Him. In the end, He is both the One we can righteously boast in and the One we give our servant-hearts to. Through His Holy Spirit, we are given strength and meekness, confidence and humbleness, boldness and dependence upon Him. Or, as one of my journalism professors once encouraged me: “It takes developing a certain brand of arrogance, the right kind, alongside a willingness to learn and be made new.”

I think what he meant by that is that we stand firm in our convictions, unmoved by challenges and struggles, confident – almost arrogant – in our secure identity. As we learn who we are in Christ, we grow even more assured that we are loved. We are simultaneously broken and re-formed in the Potter’s hands, yet we are precious to Him. We are made in His image. We are His Creation and He has declared His Creation good.

We are also nothing without Him. Those Potter hands are working with dirty jars of clay. The fulfilled life is one dependent on His sustenance. When we see our own weakness and inadequacy, He is not only enough; our cups overflow with His provision. So may we rest even as we run, wait upon Him as we go and listen to His still, small voice as we proclaim His praises loud.

So are we children of the King or are we children of the Servant?