Thinking aloud on servant leadership
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves”, (Luke 22:25-27)
The Bishops of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) gathered at the Centre for their yearly retreat and by God’s grace it ended on Friday, January 13. This yearly retreat was a welcome one, especially as it took care of BURN OUT in the ministry. It was also a time of spiritual rejuvenation and sincere prayer unto God for His children and the nation at large. No time is better than now for prayers as Nigeria is battling with economic recession, which we hope God will intervene on behalf of His people. Therefore, it is heartwarming as the Primate of All Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishops and all the Bishops were made to be at this important prayer retreat at the Centre at this time.
Interestingly, the Bible Study topic chosen at the Bishop’s retreat centred on SERVANT LEADERSHIP. Of course, the secular understanding of leadership is that, which lords it over the people. In this way, leaders insist that they do not only have their say but also their way in all issues. To that extent, people now groan because this type of leaders are not selfless but after their own personal aggrandisement. What a shame! Necessarily, it was this type of leadership that Jesus saw in His day and was very much displeased. So, He decided to lay an example so that His disciples and Christians by extension would follow. His type of leadership was to be an honest, caring and loving attitude to those around Him. He had the heart of a shepherd who nurtured and bandaged the wounds of those who felt hurt and through it brought consolation unto them.
Notice, Jesus became a loving example of a servant leader. The scripture is replete with His role as a servant leader. He submitted His own life to sacrificial service under the will of God (Luke 22:42) and that sacrifice was freely out of service for others (John 10:30). He came to serve (Matt. 20:28) although He was God’s Son and was thus more powerful than any other leader in the world. He healed the sick (Mark 7:31-37), drove out demons (Mark 5:1-20), was recognised as teacher and Lord (John 13:13) and had power over the wind, the sea and over death (Mark 4:35-41, Matt. 9:18-26).
Further, in John 13:1-17, Jesus gives a very practical example of what it means to serve others. He washed the feet of His followers, which was properly the responsibility of the house servant. The Bible noted that at the middle of meal, He used the towel to clean the feet of His disciples. The cleaning was voluntarily done, even though, He was aware that He was the leader. This action was motivated by love and should be emulated. Impliedly, every believer is now to be God’s servant in every aspect of his/her life. But the question that should hunt us is: in this day of many GENERAL OVERSEERS (G.O’S) and Field Marshals in the household of God, how humble are they in the work of ministry. Do we not see a situation where these supposed men of God now lord things over their flock? But, it should not be so!
We thank God the Bishops’ Bible Study was able to place it on the front burner once again on the need for “Servant leadership.” It is hoped that the outcome of their retreat will have a ripple effect on the rank and file within the Church of God. I am sure Jesus is tired of leaders who are not leading by His own example and would wish they get it right this time around. Remember, the scripture says of Him: “He took the form of a servant and died even death on the cross,” (Philippians 2:8). This calls for humility, devotion and commitment on the part of leaders of God’s church as they lead the flock today.
Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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