10 Behaviors of Servant Leaders

This post is part 2 of 2. Check out part 1 of 10 Behaviors of Servant Leaders here.

5. Leaders ask questions.

“‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked.” (v. 36) Jesus’ questions always drew out a person’s thinking and (more importantly) what was going on in their heart.

  • Why do you say/think that?
  • Is there anything that anyone’s holding back?
  • What’s at stake if we fail in this task/project/initiative?
  • If you could solve this your way, what would you do?
  • Why do you think you responded that way?

Good questions can change the tone of the room, reframe an issue, bring clarity to the discussion, and uncover the “why” behind a conflict. Servant leaders ask clarifying questions.

6. Leaders invite commitment.

Can you…?” Jesus asks. And they reply, “We can.” “You will…” Jesus agrees. (vv. 38-39) He doesn’t command; he doesn’t bark out orders or force obedience. He invites the disciples deeper into a relationship, deeper in commitment. It’s easy to assume that everyone is onboard with your vision, but leaders ask for a response which brings increased ownership and action. Clarity of vision and a relational connection with the leader make it easier to commit. Servant leaders invite commitment.

7. Leaders speak the truth.

(vv. 39-40) As the best servant leader of all time, Jesus was full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). Leaders speak the truth, even (especially!) when it’s hard. Kids can enjoy fairytales, but shouldn’t live in one! Employees/students who are struggling need to know what’s true about where they are and what to do about it. Truth isn’t a weapon to wack someone, but a tool to be used with grace to build up others. Servant leaders are full of grace and truth.

8. Leaders know their team.

Jesus called them together and said…” (v. 42a) Jesus is with his disciples. He takes the time to get to know them, find out how they think, what motivates them, where their strengths are, and also where they need to grow. The very task of using your influence to take team members or kids from where they are today, to somewhere better REQUIRES you to know them. Do you know their stories? Their goals? Their ideal work role? What do they do for fun? What stresses them out? Servant leaders take the time to know their team.

9. Leaders invest in their team.

Jesus not only got to know his disciples but invested in them for their growth. If you’re a Christian, you’re in the middle of a life-long process where God is transforming you to be more like Christ. As a leader, on this side of heaven, you’ll always be able to learn more, produce more, and improve your knowledge and skills. Do you have a personal growth plan? Do you have this expectation for the people you lead? Don’t be shocked by missteps or mistakes; it’s just evidence of the need for growth. Smart leaders join God in the work he’s already doing in the lives of their people. Servant leaders invest resources in helping their team grow.

10. Leaders serve.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (v. 45) Jesus wasn’t asking his disciples to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself. He knew that he was setting the pace for their leadership. The greater the servant leader he was, the greater servant leaders they would be. And he was willing to give it all, his whole life in the process. But remember that even the greatest of leaders among men and women are first called to be followers of Jesus. Servant leaders pattern their leadership after Jesus who came not to be served but to serve.

May we humbly grow in the 10 behaviors of servant leaders—not for our gain but so that we might better use our influence to take people from where they are today, to somewhere better.