Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Servant Leaders

Our service to others is not only within the Kingdom, but for the sake of it.

Let him be imperturbable, never agitated. he should be wise, studious, and devout. Let him keep vigil; let him not be reproachful. Let him be the servant of all, humble and kind.

  - Anonymous, The Rule of Ailbe (Irish, 7th century)

"But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all."

  - Mark 10.43, 44

Jesus taught His disciples that serving others is a primary quality for Kingdom leaders. This teaching was not lost on the Christian leaders of the Celtic period.

As our anonymous writer (perhaps following Ailbe, a fifth century Irish leader) indicates, good leaders must be in control of their emotions. There will always be people and situations that could easily cause a leader to fly off the handle, but good leaders know that you can't serve others if you let them get under your skin.

Note also the combination of "wise, studious, and devout." Good leaders have great practical skills. They know how to get things done and to work well with others. They make study - of Scripture, God's world, and more - an important part of their own growth in the Lord, together with a sound devotional life that includes extended periods of waiting on the Lord in meditation and prayer ("vigil"). By these means they continue to grow in the Lord and His calling to serve.

Good leaders are not fault-finders. They're not always correcting and criticizing others. Instead, they help others grow and improve by encouragement, example, and gentle exhortation. They seek to build others up, not to show themselves superior to others by looking for things to criticize.

Most of all good leaders serve. All believers are called to be servants, to consider others as better than themselves and to give themselves selflessly to meet others' needs. This was the example of Jesus (Phil. 2.5-11), and it must be the practice of all who would follow Him. But for the followers of Christ to learn true servanthood, they must follow leaders who, by their example of service, show them what this requires.

Those who would serve like Jesus must have a clear and compelling vision of the Kingdom of God, for our service to others is not only within the Kingdom, but for the sake of it.

True servants are good listeners. They are attentive to the needs of others and reach out to help whenever they can. They make themselves of no account in order to lift others up, leading them to grow beyond themselves into ever-greater manifestations of the indwelling Christ.

At The Ailbe Seminary we hope to train such leaders, men of true spirituality, committed to study and wisdom, and following Jesus along the path of increasing maturity in the Lord. Pray that God will give His Church servant leaders like Jesus, and like the servant leaders of the Celtic period - the anonymous scores of thousands of them - whose faithful ministries recovered the Gospel and extended the Kingdom when the lights of learning, devotion, and truth were burning very, very dim.

T. M. Moore, Principal

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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