Jesus is our role model for leadership. He was and is the greatest leader who ever lived. He led by being a servant to all of those around Him. He knew who He was because of His intimate relationship with His Father, and out of that relationship He ministered to the needs of individuals. He was secure, and He was free to serve as a leader—a servant-leader. Matthew 20:25-28 indicates that the disciples had been influenced by the leadership patterns of the Gentiles. Jesus, however, explained to them that leadership in the kingdom of God is servanthood!
An attitude of serving is the key to servant leadership when leading a small group. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says that whatever we do for one of the least of His brothers or sisters, we do for Him. In Matthew 9:36 we see the Lord’s compassion for the crowds. His attitude was always to serve. Leadership must have the same heart attitude to serve.
A true Christian leader is a servant and has an intimate relationship with the Father; he or she is a person of prayer and walks in humility, being totally dependent on Jesus. If you observe a true leader when he or she is not in the spotlight, you would find that leader serving others.
I am a people watcher. I find that true leaders serve wherever they find an opportunity. There are countless ways we can serve others in a small group. You are modeling servanthood by being willing to lead a small group or assist a small-group leader. Obviously, you can’t serve everyone in the world. You certainly cannot meet all the needs in a small group, but you can set the standard.
You can serve by helping someone move to a new house, by serving a meal, visiting a shut-in or praying with someone who has a need. There are hundreds of examples I could give of the servanthood that takes place within small groups. One small group gave time and money so a single mom, worn out by the demands of her young children, could take a vacation. Others have given time freely to help remodel or repaint a room in a small-group member’s house or to repair a car. When a member of a small group announced that her toilet had just broken apart, with water gushing everywhere, the small group converged on her house and assisted her husband in buying and installing a new toilet. Sometimes, we must strip away our selfishness in order to serve others. In a small-group setting, we learn how to serve and to be served.
Larry Kreider, What Every Small Group Leader Should Know (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2010).