The Leader Needed Today (Part One)

Over the past year I’ve taken several classes in seminary on Biblical leadership and church management. Those classes have included several papers on the subject of the kind of leader that is needed today. I thought I’d condense those papers into a short series I’ve titled “The Leader Needed Today.”

There are thousands of books you can read about what effective leadership today is, but I’m not going to discuss the latest model of what works. I’d rather focus on the timeless things that are needed in effective leadership, because those are the things being lost in the shuffle.

Part One (Today): Entitlement and Trust

A servant leader gives up entitlement through the acts of servant hood. What I mean by this is that often leaders want to rest on the laurels of past achievements and personal titles. Servant leaders rely on neither.

Randy Alcorn has a good perspective on how entitlement and leadership should work: “I view leadership as a privilege, not an entitlement. Too many of us act as if we deserve a leadership role. We’ve worked hard. So what? The guy at the tire shop works hard, the young mother works hard, the farmer works harder than we do.”

When we see leadership as something entitled to us, there is absolutely no way for us to also be servants. As leaders let go of their need for entitlement for the sake of serving those under and around them, there is an incredible need for trust in the process.

I would go as far as saying that without trust, servant leadership has no power to shape us in positive ways.

Robert Greenleaf identifies the importance of trust in leading as a servant: “If there is not enough trust (in most institutions today there is not enough trust) and if the level of trust has been low long enough, then it must be assumed that internal administrators, as institutions are now structured, will not deliver…it is the obligation of leader to fulfill what their title implies and become initiating builders of trust.”

Service to others carries as much weight as there is trust in the relationship. We allow pastors to speak into our lives as much as they have built a trust through time and relationship with us. We allow a concierge to give travel information based on a trust that they were hired to do their job well.

All of these relationships to leaders, who are serving, are based on trust.

We need leaders today who are willing to give up entitlement for the sake of doing the hard work of gaining trust.