Servant Leadership

SDA JournalDevotional


Scripture: The greatest among you will be your servant. (Matthew 23:11 NET)

Observation: Jesus is speaking to the people and pronounces some of the strongest condemnations on the  Pharisees and Scribes.  His  biggest concerns have to do both with their teachings and with their attitude.  They want to be seen and known as higher than anyone else and therefore given preferential treatment.  They want to teach and tell others how to live and act even if they don’t necessarily or always follow their own rules.

Application: In one of the most significant passages in the New Testament dealing with marriage, Ephesians 5, Paul writes these words, particularly to wives: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church – he himself being the savior of the body. But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24 NET).
     These words, taken all by themselves, isolated from their immediate context and to the larger biblical context, have been grossly misused by many men to the detriment of their marital relationships, have led to the abuse of women, and have misrepresented what Paul, and God, intended to say about the relationship of a woman toward her husband.  Some have read these words and have assumed the wife should be no more than a slave, a doormat, a servant ready to fulfill her husband’s every wish, desire, and order.  It is no wonder that many women have rebelled against this understanding and rejected these words, and sometimes have rejected the Bible as a whole and God because they see it and Him as oppressive toward women.
     That’s why I have chosen to use today’s passage in conjunction to Ephesians 5 so we can draw some biblical guidelines for the marital relationship.
1. The husband is the head of the wife.  While some people, particularly men, see this as a higher position than their wives, Paul describes it as a relationship of mutual submission and dependence.  He wrote on vs. 21: “and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21 NET).  The head cannot survive without the body anymore than the body can survive without the head.  In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul uses the analogy of the body to explain the interdependence that the different parts of the body, the church, have toward one another.  Likewise in marriage, we depend on our relationship for the survival of the relationship.
2. The husband is the head. While some men would like to read “boss” here, and by that meaning that their word is the ultimate authority, our text for today speaks of a different type of leadership – Servant Leadership.  Jesus said, “he who desires to be the greatest must be servant of the other.”  The leadership that God wants for the husband is that in which his aim to serve his wife, particularly since she is God’s daughter.
3. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  Paul does not say that their husband IS The Lord, but rather that they act toward their husband in the same attitude of submission as they would to theLord Jesus.  In the light of what I wrote on , a husband who is a servant-leader would be a reflection of Jesus who washed His disciples’ feet to exemplify what a servant-leader should do.  And when a husband acts like Jesus, as a servant-leader, then the wife would find it a lot easier to submit to him.  This mutual attitude of respect and servanthood is what Paul spoke about in vs.21 (see above under #1).
    The words of Paul in Ephesians 5:22-24 should in no way give men reason to mistreat their wives or to require strict “obedience” from them.  After all, Paul continued his instructions to men by telling them to love their wives “JUST AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH.”  Jesus served the church by dying for it; therefore husbands should do everything to serve their wives to the point of even dying for them, if it became necessary.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, teach us to be humble servants of our spouses and to treat each other with the same love that Your Son has for us which He showed by dying on the cross.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



Please login to start chatting. Don't have an account? Click here to register.