“Christian Servant Leadership -Quotes and Scripture”, C.S. Lewis & Christian Leaders (humility, shepherding, servants of God)

Christian Servant Leadership – Quotes from Servant Leaders and Scripture. 

Qualities of a Strong Leader; Quotes of C.S. Lewis 

• You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

• Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

• Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

• Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.

• The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.

• We are what we believe we are.

• Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.

• The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

• If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.

• There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

• The Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.

• No good work is done anywhere without aid from the Father of Lights.

• It is not your business to succeed, but to do right; when you have done so, the rest lies with God.

You must ask for God’s help. … After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.

• God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.

• Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.

Quotes on Leadership from Servant Leaders

“The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”–Robert K. Greenleaf

“One of the problems with discipleship is you can’t hide…You have to be a Godly person”. “Natural temperament always has a dark side because it participates in your idols”. “Unless you’re really a Godly person, discipleship will not work because people aren’t going to believe you”. “You can’t lead them where you are not yourself”. —Tim Keller

The three Cs of spiritual leadership are Character, Competency, and Confidence. Character must lead.” “Humility is the most important attribute of character”. “If you lead with confidence, your competency is going to be exposed.” “The hardest person that you will ever lead is yourself”. “A good leader is a great listener”. –Tom Holliday, Alexandria Presbyterian Church

“A true shepherd leads the way. He does not merely point the way.” — Leonard Ravenhill

“It takes more than a busy church, a friendly church, or even an evangelical church to impact a community for Christ. It must be a church ablaze, led by leaders who are ablaze for God”. —Wesley L. Duewel

“The heart of the learner is humble, the student is not above his master, he must learn to lead, Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-25 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”. You offer yourself to Him. We do that to the Power to make ourselves Holy. Without Effort. It is His Effort. Not our own. It is Divine Power.” —Tom Holliday, Alexandria Presbyterian Church

“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.” —John Stott

“Never when in authority rebuke anyone in anger, but only when anger has passed away; and so shall the rebuke bring forth good fruit.” – Teresa of Avila

“The first order of things to be changed is me, the leader. After I consider how hard it is to change myself, then I will understand the challenge of trying to change others. This is the ultimate test of leadership”. – John Maxwell

“The very first thing which needs to be said about Christian ministers of all kinds is that they are “under” people as their servants rather than “over” them (as their leaders, let alone their lords). Jesus made this absolutely plain. The chief characteristic of Christian leaders, he insisted, is humility not authority, and gentleness not power”. –-John Stott

“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.” – John Stott

“According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character. It’s not about style, status, personal charisma, clout, or worldly measurements of success. Integrity is the main issue that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one”. –John MacArthur

“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me”. —Jim Elliot

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” –-Martin Luther King Jr.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. —John C. Maxwell

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“God ultimately raises up leaders for one primary reason: His glory. He shows His power in our weakness. He demonstrates His wisdom in our folly. We are all like a turtle on a fence post. If you walk by a fence post and see a turtle on top of it, then you know someone came by and put it there. In the same way, God gives leadership according to His good pleasure.” —Matt Chandler

“A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead, but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of the external situation. Such were Moses and David and the Old Testament prophets. I think there was hardly a great leader from Paul to the present day but that was drafted by the Holy Spirit for the task, and commissioned by the Lord of the Church to fill a position he had little heart for. I believe it might be accepted as a fairly reliable rule of thumb that the man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The true leader will have no desire to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing, and altogether as ready to follow as to lead, when the Spirit makes it clear that a wiser and more gifted man than himself has appeared.” — A.W. Tozer

Scripture on Leadership

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
John 10:2-4

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. Luke 22:26

As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10

(God said…) “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.”

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.
Matthew 20:26

He must become greater; I must become less.
John 3:30

Select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain–and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
Exodus 18:21

“Seeking Greater Things or Seeking God”, from D.A. Carson (leadership, motive, serving God)


Seekest Thou Great Things for Thyself?

by D. A. Carson  2016

D. A. Carson is emeritus professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and president of The Gospel Coalition.

Probably it’s a sign of my advancing years, but not infrequently a young pastor or a theological student asks me the question, “What choices did you make to get to where you are today?” I fear I always have to disabuse the questioner. No one is more surprised than I am at the turns my life has taken.

Not as frequently, but far from rarely, I hear a variation on that question. In the following paragraphs, I consolidate several different questions that have come to me recently, questions that can usefully flock together. Some of them spring from zealous young Christians who spring from a somewhat charismatic background. Nevertheless, similar questions, with variations, are posed by zealous young Christians with cessationist commitments. If I had to make a composite of these questions, they’d run something like this:

Several times during the last few years, brothers and sisters in Christ have prayed over me or prophesied over me, saying that they see me one day ministering to “masses” or “vast crowds” or “preaching to the nations” or the like. Some have told me that I have the potential to be the next Spurgeon [or Whitefield or Billy Graham or whoever]. One person simply prayed the word “fame” over me.

Frankly, I find these voices both exciting and unsettling—exciting because I would like to minister to large numbers of people, and, if I am honest, I would enjoy their approbation; yet unsettling because I know I am vain, and could easily pursue public recognition for sinful reasons—less to serve and more to win adulation. Yet it has to be said that I know of men and women of God who have unabashedly leveraged their means, gifts, and reputations to gain “spotlight” roles in history that wonderfully glorify God.

So now I find myself wrestling with God, afraid of my pride, but wondering if I should redouble my efforts to be as useful as I can be. So one part of me wants to hide and serve in as small and secret a place as possible, avoiding the temptations associated with the spotlight. But on the other hand, if I am to take seriously what some have told me, should I be trying to network, study certain things, ask advice from people who have been around power without, apparently, being corrupted by it? I fear that pride could drive me to avoid a more visible ministry; I fear that pride could ruin me in a very public ministry. Please direct me if you can, and pray that I may gain clarity and increased humility.

The questions these folk are asking are important and multi-faceted. Any response, even an inadequate response like this one, will necessarily require a bit of nuance. I might respond along the following lines, enumerating several points, in no particular order of importance.

(1) Let’s begin with your words, “I know of men and women of God who have unabashedly leveraged their means, gifts, and reputations to gain ‘spotlight’ roles in history that wonderfully glorify God.” It’s the word “leveraged” that troubles me, for it implies that these believers have cleverly worked things out, played their cards, chosen their courses, made their decisions—in short, leveraged their “means, gifts, and reputations”—so as to play “spotlight” roles in history, roles “that wonderfully glorify God.”

Obviously, the motives of Christians can be embarrassingly mixed, but that doesn’t make the mixture a good thing! Those who are truly godly will be very hesitant to “leverage” their gifts and means to play “spotlight” roles: they will be too afraid of their own motives. By contrast, their greatest desire will be to be found faithful.

(2) Moreover, not a few leaders who have transparently sought out spotlight roles have ended up in moral and spiritual shipwreck. God does not give his glory to another. We do not need to mention names: it is easy to think of some of them.

By contrast, John Calvin did not set out to make a name for himself in Geneva. Guillaume Farel had to persuade him to stay there in 1536. After they were both expelled, Farel had to badger him to return in 1541. So be very careful about using verbs like “leverage.”

(3) Pragmatically, if the Lord does lay a large vision on your heart, feel free to think big, but start small: small assignments, small crowds, faithful relationships. Tim Keller spent the first dozen years of his pastoral ministry in the blue-collar town of Hopewell, VA. That, Tim says, is where he learned to preach and to give simple, straightforward answers. Lloyd-Jones spent eleven years as pastor in Sandfields, in the working-class town of Aberavon in Wales, and frankly expected to be there all his life, before he was called to London. At one crucial point in Spurgeon’s life, he was tempted to turn aside from his ministry to gain more education.

Education can be a very good thing, of course, but it can also be a stimulus to arrogance. Spurgeon records how he walked across Jesus Green, late at night, returning from Waterbeach to his digs in Cambridge.

He writes, “Methought I heard a voice behind me saying, ‘Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not! Seek them not’”—referring, of course, to Jeremiah 45:5 in the KJV. If God is, in fact, going to thrust you into spotlight ministry, do your best to ensure it is clearly God’s doing, not your machination. You will then be much more likely to respond with gratitude than with pride.

(4) For what it is worth, and at a much smaller scale, I made a vow a long time ago never to accept or reject an invitation on the basis of either numbers or money. When students ask me how I “planned” to be in this position at this time of life, I simply have to laugh. Again and again, the Lord surprised me, and plunked me into situations which, in time, were rich in blessing.

True, I sometimes asked what would be most “strategic,” but I tried to avoid measuring “most strategic” in terms of numbers and money and fame, but rather in terms of need. I did not plan to be a pastor; I did not plan to get a Ph.D.; I did not plan to move to the US; I did not seek out a spot on the TEDS faculty; when Tim Keller and I first started talking about what would become TGC, we had no idea it would have anything like the present configuration; and so on and so on. I’m not saying that any one of these plans would have been evil, but I am saying that the arc of my life testifies to God’s surprising grace rather than to my planning!

(5) While most of us go through life afraid that people will think too little of us, one cannot help but notice that Paul goes through life afraid people that will think too much of him (2 Cor 12:6).

If you grow in your knowledge of sin and of your own heart, and of the matchless grace in the cross, your fear will increasingly run in the same direction as Paul’s—and then so-called “spotlight” ministry will increasingly become something you fear more than lust after.

(6) To be frank, I am slightly suspicious of people who utter prophecies pronouncing fame and success on certain people. I’m not saying such prophecies cannot possibly be valid, but I worry that they sound suspiciously like a spiritualized version of HWPG—health, wealth, and prosperity gospel.

After the Damascus Road experience, God tells Paul not how influential he will be, but how much he must suffer for Jesus’s sake. Paul tells the Philippians that it has been granted to them (!!) on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Phil 1:29). Why is it that so few ostensible prophecies tell people today how much they must suffer for Jesus’s sake?

(7) In the relatively few instances in the Bible where God promises greatness to an individual, invariably there are constraints or tough entailments. Yes, Abraham is told that he will become the father of a great multitude, of many nations. But that is a promise he must grasp in faith, for the promise is certainly not fulfilled in his lifetime. God tells David that he will establish through David’s heirs a dynasty that will never pass away.

David rightly responds with grateful awe (2 Sam 7:18–29)—but one must also remember that his position of leadership did not prevent him from committing grievous, horrible sins. Yes, God told Paul that he would become the apostle to the Gentiles, but that crucial ministry was accompanied by the life-sapping batterings he lists in 2 Corinthians 11:23–33. Read that list slowly, and ask how much you want a “spotlight” ministry. In most cases, large public ministries paint you as large public targets.

(8) God’s calculations of what is “important” ministry is rarely ours. When the saints go marching in, the widow who gave her mite will doubtless stand closer to the head of the queue than many a multi-millionaire Christian philanthropist. And (dare I say it?) pastors of some tiny churches, pastors like my Dad,1 I am certain, may well be preferred above names that are better known in merely human courts.

God’s gifts and graces are his to distribute as he wills: some workers put in twelve hours, and seem to be mighty in the land; others work for one hour—and if the master decides to give both the same “reward,” it is a salutary reminder that the “rewards” are his to give, and all of us are debtors to grace.

I am fully persuaded that on the last day, there will be countless brothers and sisters in Christ, unknown to the annals of history, many of them illiterate or semi-literate, who have been starved, maligned, beaten, imprisoned, mocked, and finally killed (“the world was not worthy of them,” Heb 11:38), brothers and sisters who never enjoyed one day of spotlight ministry, who will be given the crown of martyrs never earned in spotlight ministries.

Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not; seek them not.

D. A. Carson

[1] See D. A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008).