Noeku Moses Msimanga is director of Health and Temperance, Lay Activities, and Sabbath School departments of the Zambesi Union, Zimbabwe, Africa

Jesus has been called the ultimate servantleader, and we are to be like Him. An African brother provides guidelines on how to become a servant-leader.

Jesus, the world's greatest leader, came to serve. Today we would call Him a servant-leader. Only Christ's method of leadership can produce practical and effective leaders. Like Christ, a servant-leader must live a life worthy of emulation by others. The leader's life must silently say that he or she is an imitator of the Lord (1 Thess. 1:6), and become a model to all the believers (verse 7).

A servant-leader does not leave all the work to others, nor does he or she take on the whole task. Like Moses when Jethro advised him on his workload, a self-motivated leader assigns work equally among those who have been chosen to help him or her to lead. Jesus used this delegation method.

Christ's leadership style does not necessarily negate all other models, but it does contain some essential components. Five major aspects of a good leadership model are:

1. Physical. A servant-leader submits his or her body to do the will of God. God says our bodies are His holy temple, thus they must be guarded from external (immoral behavior) and internal (unhealthy personal practices) impurity.

We maintain our bodies for service─rather than vanity─by following a preventive and temperate lifestyle. Exercise and a nutritious diet keep the body fit and strong so that illness is less likely to become a barrier to effective leadership. The servant-leader offers oneself to God as a living sacrifice.

2. Mental. The servant-leadership role can be too demanding for an intellectually lazy mind. Leaders must keep learning and listening all their lives.

An effective leader thinks before talking and does not talk too much, giving others a chance to express themselves. The servant-leader will be open to the ideas of others, not feel threatened by rivals, and will acknowledge mistakes.

A thinking leader works at being organized, saving time and energy. He or she engages the mind in analyzing daily challenges instead of acting too hastily, and therefore does not become confused about priorities. The servant-leader uses all five senses, adding to them common sense, and the supersensitivity made possible by daily conversion to Christ.

3. Social. First of all the servant-leader must be a loving and responsible spouse and parent. Paul says one cannot be effective in serving and loving on a large scale if he or she does not love on a smaller one (in the family). Next, the servantleader must know the purpose of God's call to be the "light of the world." To reflect God's light, the leader's presence must be seen; it must influence his or her surroundings, dispelling darkness. Such light will be a beacon for the lost, clearly showing the difference between good and evil.

The servant-leader sees God's image in all people, regardless of color, nationality, religion, or tribe. On this truth, many leaders stumble and fall. Failing to represent their Saviour, they cause many to turn away from the light. A competent leader cultivates good public relations, and becomes an asset to his or her community by involvement. Such a leader tells the community that the church cares.

4. Economical. An important principle of the servant-leader role is to remember that leadership is not ownership. A leader has been given responsibility by God first, and second by his or her peers. The servant-leader must be accountable to both.

a. Time. A leader has no time to waste, for time is more precious than gold. Time cannot be manufactured. Time comes to us as a gift of life. This gift can be saved and used effectively, or be thrown away. There is a time to work, a time to rest, a time to be with family and friends, and a time to praise God. As a steward of time, the leader needs to follow a schedule.

b. Talents. People choose a leader because of certain talents he or she possesses. The servantleader uses his or her unique talents to the maximum. Being true to oneself, the leader does not copy predecessors or heros. Unlike time and money, talents are not saved but used. The more they are used, the more they multiply.

c. Treasure. The servant-leader acknowledges the ownership of God over all living creatures and treats them with respect and value. Because our treasure is in heaven, the leader recognizes God's ownership of money and all earthly riches. These things are to be shared laterally (with people) and vertically (with God to spread the gospel). A servant-leader cannot be "bought or sold" but serves without expecting incentives or worldly reward.

5. Spiritual. Spirituality is the roof over all the rooms of the Christian leader's model. The servant-leader has one ultimate goal: to lead people to Christ. The Christ he or she brings others to does not just dwell somewhere in the heavens, but also dwells in the heart. The leader opens up the treasures of peace and joy that come from his or her own heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus. The leader's relationship with Christ gives him or her the motivation to serve whenever and wherever needed. Genuineness, sincerity, and truthfulness characterizes a servant-leader who does not pay lip service to the church nor pretend piety. Turning to Christ for strength, such a leader struggles and wins in the battle with discouragement. Convinced that Christ died for all (2 Cor. 5:14, 15), the servant-leader is constrained by the love of Christ.

Multiple components make up the servantleadership model, and I have named only five major ones. These elements are interdependent. A spiritual leader must have good public relations, but a noble image remains useless if the leader lacks a living spirituality. Fitness and strength will be wasted without an intellect that can put them to good use. An old English proverb accurately states: "A fool and his money [time, talents] are soon parted."


Noeku Moses Msimanga is director of Health and Temperance, Lay Activities, and Sabbath School departments of the Zambesi Union, Zimbabwe, Africa