the weblog of Alan Knox

Mentoring leaders

Posted by on May 9, 2009 in elders, service | 8 comments

So, I’m considered a leader by the church. I’ve been recognized as an elder. While I often teach, I try to lead through serving. I try to encourage people to follow my example by serving others. Obviously, I’m not a perfect servant – I’m often self-centered. I’m learning to serve, and I’m trying to help others learn to serve.

I think it is important for me to teach, so I teach. However, I do not think my ability to teach makes me a leader, nor does an ability to teach make me qualified to be leader. I know that some people follow me because of my ability to teach. I try to encourage those people to follow by serving.

I also think it is important to be educated. I’m pursuing a PhD in biblical theology. I do not think being educated makes me a leader, nor does it qualify me to be a leader. Some people may be following me because of my education and studies. I try to encourage those people follow by serving.

This last week, I had a good conversation with a brother who likes working with young people. He said that he liked to encourage them to be leaders. I asked him what he meant by being a leader. I encouraged him to think about service. In other words, encourage people to serve and encourage people to follow those who are serving. This seems to be Jesus’ focus when he talks about leadership.

I’m learning to think of service instead of other things that are often called leadership. It’s not an easy way to think or live. I don’t want to follow servants, because if I follow servants then I will be serving others myself.


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  1. 5-9-2009


    You said: I’m learning to think of service instead of other things that are often called leadership. It’s not an easy way to think or live. I don’t want to follow servants, because if I follow servants then I will be serving others myself.

    I believe one reason Jesus referred to those who serve others as leaders is that it is not an easy life and it is most difficult to truly serve others and get off on a power trip.

    Christian media is filled with preachers and teachers who would tell us they are leaders. But they would never think of serving any one else. In fact they think others should serve them. Many of them love power and abuse it.

    Jesus said that it is the person who would be considered the least by worldly standards, who will be considered the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.

    Once again Alan, a very good post.


  2. 5-9-2009

    I am in a leadership position in my church and in a ministry I am associated with.

    Servant leadership is the only model that I believes holds up, day in and day out in a way that models Christ and follows biblical principles. It is the only way that people will ultimately respect and joyfully submit to.

  3. 5-9-2009


    Yes, it is difficult to serve other. I would even say that on our own it is completely impossible to serve other the way God wants us to serve. But, of course, it is possible for the Holy Spirit, if we submit to him.


    I agree with you, on certain conditions. Too many times, I see the phrase “servant leadership” as nothing more than using the term “servant” for authoritarian leadership… as if leadership is the ultimate form of service.

    As long as you means leadership through serving others, then I agree.


  4. 5-9-2009

    I love how you write about leadership and the church, Alan. It is hard for you and all of us, I know, as it is so counter cultural. Another example of a cultural struggle I have had is when people, including myself, focus on “what someone does for a living.” One of the first questions anyone asks when meeting another in the West is “What do you do?”

    I am considering focusing on telling people and asking people about what they are learning or how there character is developing. What do I do? I try to hear God’s direction and follow it. What am I learning or how is my character becoming more like the character and nature of God? I am growing in my understanding of gentleness and authority. I am… fill in the blank.

    All of that sounds so strange, and I am tempted to say it sounds pious, but is that just because it is so outside the norm? I so want God to change the lens through which I see the world, life, others, organization, everything.

  5. 5-9-2009


    Thanks for that. It’s a real joy to see those words.

    They also remind us of that new birth means that a changed heart attitude is the essential evidence that we are truly what we claim.

    There was much about Jesus which stood out, but one of those was that He was radically different to the religious leaders of the day.

    As He said,”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 people.”

  6. 5-9-2009


    I like the idea of moving away from asking people “What do you do?” One of the questions we’ve been using is “What is God doing in your life right now?”

    Aussie John,

    Yes! Jesus-style leadership is radically different. Exactly!


  7. 5-9-2009


    Your recent post, “When you Think of Leaders”, really made me think. My struggle is I have seen so little real church leadership. The men I most respect and follow do not happen to be the leaders in my fellowship, and that bothers me.

    I see men I admire and respect who are “leaders” in the church, but when it comes to their ecclesiology, I can’t go with them. There seems to be a disconnect when they get in the four walls of the “church”.

    So the question I ask, “Are they serving me?” Are they enabling me and my gifts to participate and be a part of the fellowship? That may seem a self-serving question, but it is very frustrating to see men who you would emulate outside the “four walls”, but their ecclesiology gets in the way of the “one anothering” that needs to happen when we gather. So my focus has to be on just serving those brethren that I can.

    I don’t know if this all makes sense, but I would love to see some more discussion on some practical ways we can serve one another, and how to deal with leadership.

    Our home fellowship has been an outlet for me to serve, but it is completely separate from what we do on Sunday mornings.

    Keep up the discussion Alan. It is a blessing.

  8. 5-9-2009


    Many times, I write these posts as reminders to myself. For example, your question, “Are they serving me?” does not sound self-serving to me at all. In fact, Jesus said that the ones who are leaders should serve ALL.