A Couple of Servant Leaders, Part 3*

December 18, 2019

 As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, we will focus on a couple of servant leaders, Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. John would be called by Jesus as the greatest man ever born (Matthew 11:11). In what way did John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, influence him as servant leaders?

They served faithfully. Not many words are written about this couple, but enough to give us insight into their lives of faithful service. “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6).Both were blameless in their walk with God. They served without the visible blessing of children so we can assume that their service was not dependent on positive outcomes. Yet, they continued serving faithfully. Their lives influenced John to be able to serve faithfully as he called many to repentance by the Jordan River. He boldly proclaimed truth even when it cost him his life. Servant leaders aren’t perfect, but their hearts’ desire is to serve the Lord as Zechariah and Elizabeth did, faithfully living out the call of Christ in their everyday life.

They served humbly. This ordinary couple served with deep humility. Their humility is evident in Elizabeth’s response to Mary’s visit in Luke 1:39-56. For three months they hosted this visitor in their home, humbly serving her many meals and giving Mary their time and resources. They both knew that Mary’s child would be greater than their own, but they were able to humbly accept God’s role for their son. Their humility foreshadowed John’s humble declaration that Jesus should become greater and he should become less (John 3:30). Servant leaders serve with humility as this couple did, not drawing attention to themselves, but allowing others to rise.

They served patiently. When we first hear of this couple, they were “both very old” (Luke 1:7) and were childless. They had prayed for years without seeing the results. But they continued serving patiently in a situation in which many would have been tempted to give up. As they waited, they continued serving. They demonstrated to John how to serve patiently as he waited on God’s timing in the wilderness and in prison where he finally lost his life. Servant leaders learn from Zechariah and Elizabeth to keep serving in whatever role they have no matter the results. They serve faithfully and trust God for the results.

They served joyfully. Praise and rejoicing are very much a part of this couple’s story. Elizabeth gave thanks as soon as she was pregnant. When Zechariah’s tongue was set free, “he began to speak, praising God” (Luke 1:64). Elizabeth was not jealous of Mary’s miraculous pregnancy; instead, she rejoiced! Servant leaders learn from this couple that service is not a burden but a joy. They rejoiced as they served! And John was able to follow their example as he joyfully testified that the “bridegroom” had come (John 3:29).

Elizabeth and Zachariah served well individually. But together, their impact multiplied as they brought John into the world and raised him to be the forerunner of the Messiah. Their hearts for service left a legacy that we would do well to imitate.

This Christmas, the world needs more servant leader couples. Will you be one of them? Will you join together with your spouse, if married, and ask God to double your impact in the coming year as you serve faithfully, humbly, patiently, and joyfully?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Read the account of John’s ministry in Luke 3:1-20. In what ways do I see the influence of His parents in this story?
  • Could my leadership be described as “blameless”? If not, in what ways is God inviting me to change?
  • How has my leadership in the past week demonstrated humility? Am I able to rejoice in the success of others? If not, why not?
  • In what areas am I tempted to give up when things don’t change quickly? What can I learn from Zachariah and Elizabeth?
  • Can my leadership be described as “joyful”? If not, what can I do to imitate Zachariah and Elizabeth?      
  • For couples. In what ways can our marriage multiply our influence? Are we aware of this and using it strategically to have a greater impact?
  • If unmarried, what more can I learn from this couple to strengthen my own leadership impact and legacy?

Next year, we’ll begin a series on the sound of silence in our leadership! Shh…!

Until then, I wish you and your family a wonderful time of celebrating the joy of Jesus’ birth. He still inspires all of us over 2000 years later!

*We looked at the first couple in this series, Joseph and Mary, during the 2015 Christmas season. If you missed those, or want to see them again, click below.

Copyright, Global Disciples 2019.

Leading with Grace: Share it.

December 11, 2019

Leaders who learn to receive God’s grace and integrate grace into their daily lives are then ready to share this grace with others. As they do, they recall the words of Paul:  

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Servant leaders rejoice in God’s grace to them. They marvel at His goodness to call them to lead others. And they learn to extend God’s grace to those they lead. How do servant leaders share grace with those who follow?

Servant leaders envision followers with grace.

When servant leaders look at their followers, they do not only see workers who will help them accomplish their vision; they see future leaders by God’s grace! They see potential. They see a future. They do not only see the flaws. They see what could happen with the power of grace. They see men and women upon whom God’s grace can work to also do what He “prepared in advance” for them to do. Servant leaders see others through the eyes of God’s grace.

Servant leaders expect followers to need grace.

Servant leaders have learned that they need God’s grace in their own lives, so they are not surprised when their followers need grace! They see themselves as Paul explained in the next chapter of Ephesians: I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, (Ephesians 3:7-8).

Since servant leaders have learned to find their own identity in God’s grace and not in their works, they expect that their followers will also need grace.

Servant leaders extend grace to those who follow.

Leaders who have not experienced God’s grace strive to do good in their own strength. They measure themselves by their performance. And they do the same with their followers. They point fingers of guilt, judgement and shame. They read the policy handbook loudly and underline rules that are broken! They cannot acknowledge their own failures.

But servant leaders know they need grace and can extend it to those who follow. Servant leaders do not beat their followers with lists of “do’s and don’ts”! They don’t use shame to control behavior in others. They invite others to see God’s great grace.

Grace allows a servant leader to forgive the mistakes of a follower. Grace allows a servant leader to say, “I know you failed, I have also. God’s grace will help you make it.” Grace allows the servant leader to give second chances.

This doesn’t mean that there is never a time for a servant leader to correct, rebuke or release a follower. But it means that the overall tone of their leadership will be a posture of grace. Because they know they need grace, servant leaders can pass it on to others. Servant leaders lead with grace by sharing God’s grace.

Sharing grace profoundly shapes the way we lead. Servant leaders approach leadership as one sinner saved by grace, leading another sinner in need of the same grace. Servant leaders receive God’s grace, they learn to live in it, and then they share it with those they lead. They become like Jesus, leaders “full of grace.”

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Do I see those I lead with grace, as they can become with God’s help? Or do I see others as they are and hopeless? How could what God has done in my own life shape what I expect in others?
  • When those who follow me make mistakes, what is my default response? Does it reflect grace? Am I able to treat others when they make mistakes like I want God to treat me when I make mistakes?           
  • Would my followers describe me as a leader “full of grace”? Why or why not? What can I do to become more like Jesus in this area?

Copyright, Global Disciples 2019.