For some, hearing the term “servant” causes us to picture the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. It may conjure up certain thoughts about our own job positions, either in the past or the present. When we think of the term in the context of parenting, it’s easy to recall how we often find ourselves at the mercy of our kids. Some days, it may feel like we are at their beck and call, serving as chefs, chauffeurs, maids, teachers, coaches, and the like. Sometimes, it may feel like our kids are in control.
But, you know what? You can rest easy. It is possible, even Biblical, for parents to be servant leaders, and do so without being slaves to our kids’ every desire. Renowned leadership expert John Maxwell says it this way: “Leaders seek ways they can add value to others, and the primary way they do it is by serving them. In John 13, the Savior of the world exhibited that He was also the greatest Servant of all time. In a powerful object lesson of servanthood, Jesus stripped down to a garment around his waist, looking the part of a servant. He took a basin of water and a bowl and began washing his disciples’ feet.” We as parents have a wonderful opportunity to exhibit Christ-like servant leadership with our children. Servant leadership doesn’t mean we are weak or that we are pushovers. It means that we love Jesus and we want to live our lives, and lead our families, like Him. I believe exhibiting servant leadership in our homes looks like this:
God is first. Nothing comes between our own personal walk with God. We desire to serve Him and that focus permeates everything we do and how we parent.
We are always motivated by love. As a result, our desire is to ensure our children feel loved and valued. Everything we do, including how we teach and discipline our children, exhibits love.
Others come before ourselves. We live by the principle found in Philippians 2:3: “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” It means considering the needs of others first. It also means that our children’s ultimate wellbeing is put before our own.
“When leaders serve, they add value to the people who receive their service. It might be something as simple as feeling special; it could be a resource we give others or a word of encouragement,” Maxwell writes. Isn’t that our ultimate goal as parents, to lead our children to be the people God has called them to be? Being servant leaders in our homes is what God has called us to be to achieve this purpose.