When I started this series on Servant Leadership, I had promised that we will continue to look at Servant Leadership in the context of day to day life. I do not want any of us to be put off
How do we convince others about something that we want done? How do we make some do something that we want done? How do we get some thing from others. There are multiple ways. Each of us adapt our own ways of doing this. We just celebrated Mother’s day a couple of weeks back. I am sure all of us must have heard this at-least once in our lifetime. “do it because I am saying so”. When we are children, generally we hear it from our mothers. When we grow up we hear this from our teachers probably. When we get spouses, it is said in a very different manner. “You don’t love me any more” is a common refrain which convinces husbands to do some things wanted by the wives. When parents grow old, the convincing becomes a sort of “emotional black mail”. “I carried you for nine months and looked after you so well, and is this the way you treat me now?”
How about Leader follower relationship? The sad part is, we keep hearing this, from the so called leaders. The words might not be exactly the same, but the message is very clear. “Do it because I as a leader am telling you!!” This is not uncommon in leadership. In the traditional Power and Authority model of leadership, many people go with this definition of leadership “Leadership is the power or right to give commands, enforce obedience, and make final decisions.”
There are many leaders who “rule” by this law. By coercion and by the power that goes by their position.
On the contrary, Servant-leaders rely on persuasion, rather than positional authority in making decisions. Servant-leaders seek to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of servant-leadership. The servant-leader is effective at building consensus within groups. Paul had a relationship with Philomen which gave him the right to order him or command him, but Paul chooses to use love and affection instead of coercion to communicate to him about Onesimus. Paul says “…Although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.” (Philemon 8-9)
But the real question is, Can servant leaders be persuasive? One of the myths about Servant leaderships is that Servant Leaders are expected to be quiet, not speaking up, and agreeing to every one. Is that your understanding of Servant Leadership also? How can one expect Servant Leaders to be Persuasive?
Acts 26: 1-29 is one of the most compelling court speeches by Paul. He nearly converted King Agrippa. This passage gives us many clues on what is required for persuasion. John C Maxwell, the well known Leadership Guru, says that there some characteristics which make people listen to you.
1. Our Relationships: People listen to us because of who we know. : Paul was clear about whose name is he using to make King Agrippa listen to him. He was talking about his relationship with Jesus. (Acts 26: 14-18)
2. Sacrifice: People listen to us because of what we have suffered. Paul brings forth his suffering at the hands of Jews ( Acts 26:7 and Acts 26:21)
3. Character: People listen to us because of our integrity : The Jews knew Paul well and knew that he had kept all laws. (Acts 26: 4-5)
4. Relevance: People listen to us because we identify with their needs. The need of the Jews was a messiah, and Paul was telling them that this promise is being fulfilled ( Acts 26: 6-7)
5. Insight: People listen to us because of what we know. Paul knew the Gospel Truth, that Christ is the messiah and that He would suffer, that He would be the first one to rise from the dead, and would bring light to the Jewish people and to the gentiles (Acts 26: 22-23)
6. Vulnerability: People listen to us because we are genuinely transparent. Paul was not afraid to talk about his past, what he did to persecute those who believed in Jesus Christ. (Acts 26: 9-11)
7. Experience: People listen to us because we’ve succeeded in the past. Paul explains how he was successful in declaring the Gospel to the people (Acts 26: 19-20)
8. Humility: People listen to us when we incarnate meekness. Paul know that he stands on the strength of his God, and he is also making sure that he speaks the truth to both great and small (Acts 26: 22)
9. Competence: People listen to us because of our abilities and expertise. King Agrippa know the things that Paul was talking about, and knew that Paul had the competence to talk about the same.
10. Courage: People listen to us when we demonstrate conviction. Paul’s courage in standing up to the rulers and the Jews in the face of stiff opposition was obvious and evident in all his missionary journeys
11. Value: People listen to us because we make them feel that they are important to us: Paul made it clear to Agrippa and all listeners that their salvation is importnsat to him (Acts 26: 29)
Peter, one of the best examples of a “turn around leader” in the Bible, manages to make people ask “What shall we do?” at the end of his speech in Acts 2:14-38, through sheer persuasion.
“The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding.” (Proverbs 10:21)
Needless to say, Jesus is the best example for us to see how we can Make Him known. His relationship with his Father made it possible for Him to reveal the father so effectively and persuasively. None of us can really match His skills, but it is good for us to understand the principles behind that persuasive power. One of the very touching incidents of Jesus making Him known is in the story of the Samaritan Woman at the well, narrated in John 4:1-26. He grabbed the opportunity that was presented to him while traveling by the shortest route to Galilee. He took the risk, risk to His reputation, of picking up conversation with a woman, a Samaritan woman, a woman of doubtful character. Overriding all that was the fact that he knew that she needed to hear the truth. If we are convinced that the people need the Lord, we will not have reasons not to speak to people. It is interesting to note how Jesus began his conversation. He started with the immediate interest of the person, “water” and then lead the conversation to the living water. He was able to overcome the barriers that the Samaritan woman put up one by one. First she brought up the issue that she was a Samaritan and he was a Jew, He moved on to a higher issue of living water. She asked Him if He was greater than Jacob, he once again raised the issue to a higher level. Her moral problem could have become another barrier, but Jesus dealt with it tactfully and gently. She brings up a religious issue of the proper place to worship, Jesus counters it by explaining that God is spirit and hence everywhere. Then Jesus talked about the truth and revealed Himself to her. What a great way of Making Him Known!!
That Jesus is telling us this morning, You have not chosen me, I have chosen you, to go and bear fruit, fruit that lasts ( John 15:16). That Jesus is also telling us this morning, that if we believe in him, we can do all that He did. John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do”
Let us Pray
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen