#365 Secure Leaders are Serving Leaders

January 17, 2024

How secure are you in your leadership role? And how does your personal security as a leader impact your ability to serve others? In this series we’ll examine the differences between secure and insecure leaders and discover why secure leaders are serving leaders. Many persons in positions of leadership are insecure but Jesus modeled a very different way.

3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:3-5, NIV).

Much has been written about Jesus’ actions here, washing the feet of His disciples with water and a towel, the work of a servant. But the verses that precede His actions reveal that His act of service flowed from three things He knew that gave Him security as a leader.  

Secure leaders know their authority.

 Jesus knew that all things were “under his power…” He was aware of the power and authority He carried with His disciples. Because He was secure in his authority, He could stoop to wash the feet of His disciples. His act of serving did not diminish His authority in any way. He had nothing to prove and nothing to hide.

Some leaders are afraid to serve others because they fear it would make them look less powerful. They believe that powerful leaders have others serving them. So, the more that they get others to serve them, the greater of a leader they believe they are. This is a low and distorted view of leadership! Serving leaders are secure and recognize, like Jesus, that they are in a position of authority to bring value to others and to serve them. Serving leaders use their authority for the sake of others, not themselves. This happens only when they are secure in the authority they have.

Secure leaders know their identity.

Jesus knew that His relationship with His Father was the source of His authority and that “he had come from God…” He was secure in who He was. His title or leadership role did not in any way change His identity. He could wash feet without changing who He was.

Insecure leaders by their actions or words ask others, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the chairman, the CEO, or the pastor!” They want to be seen and recognized as important people and they look to their leadership role as a validation of their identity. They get their identity from their title and cannot serve others because that would seem to lessen their status.

But secure serving leaders are not focused on who they are; they focus on who others are—and seek to build and strengthen those they lead. They don’t need to prove their identity; they are secure in who they are. Therefore they have no problem serving others.

Secure leaders know their destiny.

Jesus was aware that “he was returning to God.” He understood that His ultimate destiny was not tied to His leadership role. Therefore, serving others would not change His future.

Some leaders are afraid to serve others because they fear that if they give power away and build others up, there will be nothing left for them to do! They are afraid to serve because they are not confident of their own destiny.  

But serving leaders are confident about their destiny. They acknowledge that their leadership is not about them or what they will get out of it. They are in leadership to serve others and serve because it is the right thing to do, not because of what they might gain from their actions.

As a secure leader, Jesus served. Secure leaders are serving leaders.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How secure am I as a leader? What evidence of this do I see in my leadership?
  • Do I use my leadership role to demonstrate my own power and authority? In what ways
  • Are there ways that my identity is tied to my leadership role? What would happen to my perception of myself today if I lost my title or position?
  • Do I ever fear that serving and empowering others may result in me not having anything useful to do? How does this impact my leadership?  

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issues we will look at the actions of secure leaders, first at how secure leaders encourage.