When asked if you want to be first or last in the race, naturally we all want to be first. Of course we do, right? Winning is awesome. 1 Corinthians 9:24 goes so far as to tell us to run the race to win. [Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!] Remember here, context is key and we can’t miss the prior is telling us all is done for the sake of the gospel, so that we may share in its blessings. Changes the purpose and tone of winning according to the worldly views, doesn’t it? What does that mean for Christian leadership in a management role?

As Christian managers, given authority over others, we need not look much further than our Bible for leadership lessons. The greatest leader of all time is Jesus and the Bible is the primary source for learning. We cannot forget in 2 Timothy 3:16 we are told all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. There is no other book that comes before nor other source we should find direction in. Our only direction, outside the Bible, should come from books that directly compliment and assist in further explaining the principles found in scripture.

The greatest leader of all time is Jesus Christ. The Son of Man, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords did not come to be served, but to serve and give the ultimate sacrifice of laying His life down for us. (Not sure I’m ready for that kind of leadership! How about you?!) He came to serve and the example he set is obviously modeled in the concept of Servant Leadership being popularly taught and sold in numerous management books today. I love when the “new concepts” can be tied directly back to biblical principles.

While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in “The Servant as Leader”, an essay that he first published in 1970.  (Greenleaf, R. (1991). The servant as leader ([Rev. ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Robert K. Greenleaf Center.)

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy. Traditional leadership generally involves the exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Servant leadership turns the power pyramid upside down; instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people. When leaders shift their mindset and serve first, they unlock purpose and ingenuity in those around them, resulting in higher performance and engaged, fulfilled employees. (“What Is Servant Leadership”Servant Leadership Institute. Servant Leadership Institute. Retrieved 20 June 2017.)

Do you see that – there is a whole Institute on this style of leadership. Now, let’s walk through the scriptures on just a few of the leadership style of Jesus.

Whoever wants to be a Leader among you, must first be a servant, and whoever wants to be first shall be servant to all.  Mark 10:43-45.  The word used here for servant is similar to “waiter” as in a subservient or humble role.  Through Jesus, the leadership model is clearly;

  • Care for your team’s human needs. You would assume they are coming to work they are getting physiological needs met, but are they getting their other needs met? Do they feel like part of the group and accepted? Are they confident and recognized for their accomplishments? Do they feel fulfilled and see a growth plan?
  • Grow your team. Seek the best for each team member’s personal growth, even as we seek the best for our organization. The people make the company. Grow your people.
  • Show authority with humility. Essential to leadership, is humility, because it authenticates a person’s humanity. This gives an avenue to not only show your accomplishments but your character as well and thus, inspire your team toward greatness.
  • Respect your team. Plain and simple.

Jesus examples this in washing the disciples feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. John 13:15. I am not suggesting you wash your team’s feet. Surely there is a time and place for such an intimate act of service, however the message from Jesus to His disciples is clear to follow His example in the heart of this act of service.

  • You accomplish goals when you meet the needs of others. Allow yourself to become the one on your team seeking out the needs of the rest and meet them.
  • Your God honoring behavior is going to benefit your team. By behaving in a Christ-like manner, the work of the kingdom is being done.
  • You lead best by helping others achieve their goals.
  • Do humble acts of service.  This might be as simple as going last in line at the team lunch or getting the trash up afterwards.

There is so much that can be learned from the leadership of King David it would be hard to encompass it all in one small section. In relation to his servant characteristics, I believe we see his humility (2 Samuel 7:8) and patience (Psalm 27:14) in the Lord before he even took the throne. With God the primary focus, David’s life embodies long term personal, professional and spiritual growth.

  • After being anointed King, David went back to shepherding awaiting the Lord’s timing.
  • David willingly played music, on demand, for King Saul.
  • David still served his brothers as guided by his father.

Additionally, a strong leader recognizes their team’s interdependence. Paul, in the book of Romans, clearly shows this model from the church. [Just as each of us has one body with many members, and not all members have the same function, so in Christ we who are many are one body, and each member belongs to one another. Romans 12:4-5.] If the entire church is dependent on one another to function in a healthy manner, naturally each team member has value in our teams. The team needs to be keenly aware of their individual roles in team’s successes and is best served by a leader who nurtures the relationships inside the team as sums of the greater whole.

FIRST or LAST? The biblical model of leadership tells us to be first (or rather to lead), we elect to be last. This model, obviously, adapted from scripture by Greenleaf when he coined the term “Servant Leader” in the early 1970s.  [What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9]

The best leaders, the leaders most likely to impact the people entrusted to them, the leaders making large scope impact for the kingdom of the gospel and ultimately giving the best to their particular organization, follow the leadership model described and lived by Jesus Himself.

To be your best leaders, follow Him.

You’ve got this!  Ashlee Gillis Vickers, CPC



You CAN master the art of small talk.

I am sure, at one time or another, we have all had the dreaded feeling of attending another group function where we felt slightly awkward because we would have to stand around making small talk with people. Ever been unsure of how to keep the conversation going – me too! Even the most extroverted people, have the planned emergency “my cat is sick” or “my neighbor’s garage door is stuck” text already worked out to make their escape exit as soon as possible. Then others might avoid the function all together.

Believe it or not, these functions can be fun. Yep, I said it, fun. And if you can’t go that far, let’s just agree interesting. The key is knowing how to get and keep conversations going beyond, “Hi, sure is hot/cold/rainy isn’t it?”.

Most people enjoy talking about things they are interested in and all you have to do is kick off their topics. They will do the talking for you.  However, remember a really critical key is that you are the listening participant, so listen. Engage in the conversation with head nods, ask more questions where necessary and keep eye contact (without an impromptu stare off of course, ‘cuz that’s creepy).

Here are ten questions to get you started:

  1. What made you chose your profession? – This might be insanely insightful or they may hate what they do, but either way you can spring into more topics from here easy enough.
  2. What is now (or has been) your most meaningful way to give back in a charitable way? If they have nothing, they are a slug of society, run! I’m KIDDING!! You could let them off the hook easily by saying either you have been looking for a meaningful way to give back as well. Or even say it took you a while to find the right fit to dedicate your time in the best way. Very diplomatic way to get them out of feeling like “less than” if they aren’t currently investing time charitably.
  3. What are you reading now? If nothing, maybe ask what they have read recently? If nothing, maybe what was your favorite book in school? If they still have nothing… you are probably trying to start a conversation with the coat rack and very nonchalantly step away real cool like because you are going to look really silly.
  4. Tell me about your journey that got you here? People are fascinating and their journey is never boring. Hands down one of my favorite questions.
  5. Do you say YES or NO as a general rule? Why would you say that answer? You have no idea how much this can tell you about a person. Listen carefully.
  6. What’s one thing you have tried that you are glad you did, but won’t do again? Maybe this is skydiving? Bungee jumping? Eating monkey brains? I don’t know, but imagine what you might learn.
  7. What is the most important thing I should know about you? Can you just imagine the amazing things you will hear? Think about your own answer….. what is the most important thing you would want someone to know about you?
  8. What are you most passionate about? I love to hear what really stirs people up. Where are their dreams living?
  9. Do you have a life defining moment? There is no question or hesitation for me –  in my life, the defining moment is when I began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  Do you know yours? Aren’t you curious about others?
  10. How can I be of most help to you right now? People are genuinely touched by your true desire to be of help to them. Whether personal or professional, this could be a feasible question. They could have said something in the conversation about their charity that really appeals to you and you want to join in with your help.  Or bridge a potential business connection. Maybe you have a product that can solve their problem at work and maybe you know someone else who does you can connect them with.

It is good to keep in mind to gauge your depth of dialog by the event and be respectful of what your conversation partner is open about sharing.

These tips will have you much more comfortable with small talk, making some great connections and maybe even some amazing friends.

They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.
—Carl W. Buehner

You’ve got this!  Ashlee Gillis Vickers, CPC