I am, what is known as a co-vocational church leader, which means as well as pastoring the Vine I work in industry for some of the week too. As part of my work in the world of commerce, I see the latest trends in leadership being touted as the way to transform your business, motivate your staff, and improve both productivity and the wellbeing of your workforce. Over time I have seen consultants spouting the benefits of 'authoritative leadership' or 'delegative approaches' to leadership. I have attended courses to develop a 'coaching style' of leadership, or whatever is the current leadership trend. I raised a wry smile recently though as the ‘next best thing’ was declared: Servant Leadership.
I smiled as I am pretty sure this has been around for a while and is not really a new thing in business. I was also somewhat familiar with this idea of servant leadership in the context of my faith in Jesus, where it is a tried, trusted, and essential way of working.
Jesus served his friends as he washed their feet, highlighting the humility that should accompany leadership. In Galatians 5:13 believers are reminded “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows.”
The end of this month and beginning of June sees the Platinum Jubilee, with a series of events and an extra bank holiday to celebrate not 70 years of the Queen being Queen, but as the official statement reads a ‘celebration to mark 70 years of service to the people of the UK, the Realms and Commonwealth.’ The Queen is and always has been a fan of servant leadership.
In her 1957 Christmas broadcast, Queen Elizabeth II conceded that she could no longer lead the nation in battle or give laws. “But I can do something else - I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations”.
In a changing world, where the role of the Royal Family is questioned and the concept of the commonwealth is changing, the Queen has stuck to this concept of servant leadership as her core approach not just to her role as Queen but as a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law and a grandmother.
Each of us is a leader in some way, either influencing those around us or in our families or simply choosing how we act ourselves – whatever your role I recommend following Jesus’ lead and like the Queen being a servant leader.
Whether you are an avid fan of the Queen, a republican or somewhere between I pray you will get a chance to enjoy the extended break at the end of this month.