Are You Known for “Serving” or “Being Served?”

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to sit with a group of leaders where we discussed servanthood, question asking, and communication. Our guest was Todd Sinelli, author of One Simple Word. Todd made a statement in his presentation that challenged me (or perhaps I should say “convicted me”):

“When people think of you, do they think of someone who likes to serve or someone who wants to be served?”

This is such a simple yet profound statement. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race of productivity that we forget to serve the people who make so much of our achievement possible in the first place. Todd noted that Jesus’ most frequently asked question is, “What can I do for you?” (Matthew 20:32, Mark 10:36, 51, Luke 18:41). As leaders, our default is often to ask what others can do for us. But when we follow Jesus’ model–“What can I do for you?”– we exhibit the true heart of a servant.

I know it’s impossible to meet every need. I also know that leaders are pulled in every direction and that it’s humanly impossible to stop and answer every request for help. But if we’re not careful, we’ll become known for “being served” rather than serving others.

So what does serving look like for leaders? Max Depree once said, “The leader is the servant who removes the obstacles that prevent people from doing their jobs.”  What are the obstacles that you could help remove that would allow your teams and volunteers to experience greater satisfaction and fulfillment? And is there a person you could serve that can do nothing for you in return?