Today, I met with a 95-year old Wold War II veteran who was also a successful businessman before then turning to pastoral ministry in a church which grew considerably and released many more leaders to also start churches: one of those was where I first went after becoming a Christian at 16. He is still preaching, following up leaders weekly, having appointments daily and writing and publishing booklets (despite being almost blind) and lives out his clear convictions with admirable humility.
Lives lived from a perspective of serving others whilst also serving a cause greater than ourselves not only provide inspiration, but also leadership. This is true of faith-based, as well as secular people. In his international best-seller Good to Great, business leader Jim Collins presents the compelling evidence for so-called ‘Level 5 Leadership’ as that which recognises the importance of people as vital and valuable contributors to the whole. Level 5 leaders, he says, are not just tenacious and effective leaders (where competence grows through his levels). They are also humble influencers who recognise the priority of each individual.
Of course, this is not new; we know it as servant leadership. Jesus Christ modelled it 2000 years ago.
If to Him, people matter, then I want them to matter to me, too. Of course, the more my heart beats as one with His, the more I feel the heart of a shepherd who had compassion for His ‘sheep’ (Matthew 9:36). Leadership demands delegation and prioritisation, but even where people are managed via others, they must remain important to every leader who seeks to be great.
Do you want to be great? It is not just about being skilled, competent or effective. It is importantly also about service, as Jesus so plainly emphasised (Luke 22:26). This is not intrusive and not overbearing. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) and the original word translated as grace is the same used to describe gifts from God in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12! Gifted, but humble, all in the same servant-hearted Level 5 person of greatness? There’s got to be something in that!