Jesus unashamedly taught that his sole purpose was to fulfill his Father’s agenda. For all of the miraculous deeds that Jesus accomplished while he was on earth, he constantly gave credit to his Father for the words he spoke and the works he performed (John 14:11). Jesus even proclaimed that he did not speak of his own initiative (John 14:10). In Christ’s commitment to fulfilling his Father’s mission on this earth, Jesus set out to obey his Father through service and sacrifice (Phil 2:5-8).
Most people would not normally characterize a leader as one who is committed to service. As Jesus consistently changed the paradigm in many people’s thinking, he did so again in requiring that a leader become first and foremost a servant. A servant leader is one who “serves the mission and leads by serving those on mission with him.” Leaders are normally not viewed as men and women who are submissive to anyone else. Leaders are thought to be strong and ambitious with a definite personal vision. Jesus displayed bold leadership by submitting to only one authority – his Father.
Jesus taught that to follow him was to cause someone to deny themselves daily and to take up their crosses (Matt 16:24). More than just lip service, Jesus modeled this type of service to his Father. As Jesus prayed on the eve of his crucifixion, he asked his Father, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matt 26:39). Understanding the upcoming torture and brutal death he would experience, Jesus did reveal that he possessed an actual will. But his will was always subordinate to the service of his Father’s will (Matt 26:39, 42). Christians are taught that they will suffer if they live godly lives (2 Tim 3:12), and for Christian leaders following in the footsteps of Jesus as a leader, they need to expect to suffer and to sacrifice for the Father and his kingdom.
Not only did Jesus submit himself to service of his Father, but he also submitted himself into the service of others. Jesus spoke out against rulers who led to “lord it over” the people to whom they were supposed to serve (Mark 10:42). Instead, Jesus taught that the one who wanted to be great must become a servant to all (Mark 10:43-45). While many people love many of Jesus’ teachings, this type of service leadership is often avoided and neglected when mentioning leadership.