Jesus’ teaching never loses its power or relevance. In a recent Inc. Magazine article, titled, “In Praise of Selflessness: Why the Best Leaders are Servants” there is the following nod to Jesus Christ:
“Servant leaders, by contrast, put their people and their organizations before themselves. They don’t view employees as a means to an end; rather employees’ happiness and satisfaction is the end. A former AT&T executive named Robert Greenleaf introduced the concept in 1970 (although the authors of the New Testament had laid the foundation a bit earlier). In the movement’s argot, servant leaders “wash others’ feet.” (May 2007).
Sure it was only a nod, but it was a nod. And sure it wasn’t the authors of the New Testament that laid the foundation for that teaching: it was THE Author of the New Testament, Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t just lay the foundation on that principle: He built the house on it. The idea that Greenleaf or any man from the 20th century invented “servant leadership” is almost laughable. I have a pretty good idea that Greenleaf himself would agree.
Whether we are taking on the role of businessmen, parent, teachers, or something else, Christians do well to recall again this important lesson by Jesus Christ. If we do not, we are always in jeopardy of losing our bearings. It is easy to lose focus and get off track. What is our mission? Why are we here? These questions are best answered by turning to Jesus’ example and words.
“So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?” – Jn 13:12
It was the washing of the disciples’ feet where Jesus took one more opportunity to show the importance of service. Worldly, egotistical, and self-serving leaders don’t do that. They aren’t like that. The value of selfless service is minimal when you can force and coerce instead. And so they aren’t likely to lower themselves to wash feet. For a worldly leader, maintaining control and dominance is more important. Washing feet, or any kind of service, might risk looking weak and vulnerable. But Jesus wasn’t trying to be a typical leader. Jesus came to serve and to show us to serve.
“For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” – 13:15
Business can learn a lot from Jesus Christ. In fact, all of the world can.