From time to time, those in positions of authority and those aspiring to lead need a refresher course on the basic, fundamental principles of servant leadership.
1. Jesus Christ established the principles of servant leadership when He taught: if you want to lead, serve; if you want to be great, act like a slave; if you want to be treated like the elder, behave like the younger. Jesus is counter-intuitive.
2. His instructions to those who would become pillars of the New Testament Christian church were drawn in contrast to “Gentile” or unchristian leadership. Unchristian leaders abuse power and authority while forcing their followers to call them “benefactors.” These pseudo-leaders use words about higher ideals and true principles while serving themselves.
3. Servant leadership is powerful, practical, and principle-centered. It is not weak. Plenty of room remains for charismatic, inspiring, passionate, visionary, strong leadership as long as the motive is pure, intellectual (Godly) love for followers.
4. Intellectual love—choosing to do what is best for others, no matter how one feels—cannot be selectively dispensed by a servant leader. All followers, including those who are disagreeable and even those who make mistakes, must be served from a fair, even-handed, consistent, deep wellspring of genuine outgoing concern.
5. Servant leaders are persons of integrity—overflowing with truth, honesty, and righteousness—avoiding hypocrisy like the plague. Integrity only comes when actions are aligned with words. It is, therefore, necessary to judge leaders by their fruits, what they do, not what they say.
6. Servant leaders are completely open and transparent. They abhor being disingenuous, run from spin, and communicate with a refreshing, almost naive honesty about what they are doing. They embrace the vulnerability that truth brings. (On the other hand, true servant leaders are very careful to take the high road and cover the mistakes and sins of others.)
7. Knowing that humans are easily self-deceived, servant leaders are in tune with their own thoughts and motivations, self-aware about their strengths and weaknesses, and vigilant about never falling into the trap of letting the end justify the means. They are keenly aware that processes and methods matter to Jesus Christ, usually more than results.
8. Understanding that appropriate respect for authority - an office - is different than respect for a person, servant leaders will work hard to earn the respect of their followers. They will never demand respect or expect it to automatically accrue because of a promotion. Servant leaders believe authority and position power accrue stewardship responsibilities, not blind obedience, perks, and benefits.
9. Servant leaders will be trusted, and they will trust others. They know trust—the purest lubricant in organized human endeavors—is precious, hard to build, and easy to destroy. Servant leaders understand followers trust leaders who model integrity and competence.
10. Motivated by love, servant leaders will have the humility to learn continuously, always developing their leadership skills. They will have the respect and care for followers to have prepared for leadership opportunities through education and experience. They would never covet or accept a position without having the requisite knowledge and skills. They know in their heart it would be selfish, and a disservice to followers.
Finally, irrespective of political persuasion, those entrusted with fiduciary care of an organization, municipality, state, or republic have a stewardship responsibility to judiciously remove those who prove by their actions to not be true servant leaders, especially those who cannot or will not act with integrity.