Comparing Servant Leadership to Biblical Lordship

I’ve heard of servant leadership and have tried to practice it in my family. Somehow it didn’t work all that well. In the last couple of years I’ve been learning and implementing Biblical patriarchy in my family and “servant leadership” fell off my radar.

Then, this morning I came across a blog post titled “Servant Leadership Transforms Leadership into Subservience” and the topic popped back up onto my radar. What the author says makes sense based on my own personal experience.

This quote really had me metaphorically seeing the arrow hit the bull’s eye.

Thus, whereas a biblical ruler is charged with making people holier by reordering their lives, a servant leader is charged with making people happier by reordering his.

It’s Good to be a Man

Now, as it happens, a couple of Sabbaths ago, I taught on Kings Abijah and Asa of Judah in my congregation. The entire chapter of II Chronicles 15 records the prophetic encouragement given to Asa by the prophet Azariah son of Oded. Let’s break down this chapter and study its sections.

Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded. And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; but when in their trouble they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them. And in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands. So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity. But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”

II Chronicles 15:1-7

Verses 1-7 records the prophetic message that Azariah gave to Asa and all of Judah and Benjamin. The prophet got their attention first with stating that YHVH would be with them while they were with Him, and would forsake them if they forsook Him.

Appealing to the history of the judges from Joshua to King Saul, he pointed out that forsaking Him resulted in being without the true God, without a teaching priest and without law. These factors in turn resulted in being without peace all around. Azariah encouraged King Asa to be strong and do what needed to be done and that his labors would be rewarded.

And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the mountains of Ephraim; and he restored the altar of the Lord that was before the vestibule of the Lord.

II Chronicles 15:8

Being encouraged, Asa did what YHVH had commanded and removed the idols from everywhere he ruled. It does take courage to go against the grain and tear down the idols and obey YHVH.

Then they [Judah, Benjamin, and refugees from the northern ten tribes] entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; 13 and whoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 14 Then they took an oath before the Lord with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams’ horns. 15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.

II Chronicles 15:12-15

Please note that Asa provided the strong leadership and the people responded by rededicating themselves to YHVH, including a commitment that any who would still reject YHVH by persisting in the worship of foreign elohim and idols would be put to death. This rededication was accepted by YHVH and He was found by them and they had rest all around, and that’s contrasted with the period of the Judges in which there were numerous periods of no rest.

16 Also he removed Maachah, the mother of Asa the king, from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah; and Asa cut down her obscene image, then crushed and burned it by the Brook Kidron. 17 But the high places were not removed from Israel. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was loyal all his days.

18 He also brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated and that he himself had dedicated: silver and gold and utensils. 19 And there was no war until the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Asa.

II Chronicles 15:16-19

King Asa’s mother, the queen mother, had to be removed from her royal position by her own son because she made the Asherah. While Asa did not execute her, he did destroy the Asherah by cutting it down, crushing and burning it by the Brook Kidron. The author notes that there was no war involving Judah until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign. The rededication was in year 15 of his reign, so Asa, with his reforms and leading his people back to YHVH, secured for them twenty years of peace.

Asa displays what biblical lordship looks like! It’s taking charge, ruling over, and guiding the people in your domain. Who was Asa a servant to, or in submission to? Without question, he served YHVH, not the people! This Biblical approach is much better than “servant leadership”!!

Recall these two videos that address directly the ‘servant leader’ claim as part of the fallacious ‘mutual submission’ claim often promoted in Christian and Messianic circles.

The authority structure in Scripture, from Gan Eden to the New Jerusalem is summed up nicely in 1 Corinthians 11:3, and affirmed multiple places with lordship explicitly demonstrated in 1 Peter 3:6.

The previously cited author is correct! Servant leadership indeed transforms leadership into subservience!!

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