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Servant Leadership in Education


As you consider the greatest leader that you have personally known, what was it that made this individual such a great leader?  What personal qualities did you observe and which ones meant the most to you?

Christians would agree that Jesus Christ was the greatest Teacher and Leader that has ever set foot on this planet.  Both his principles and his Father’s heart were given manifestation as he lived a life worth of emulation.  Perhaps one of the most revolutionary concepts he introduced was that of the servant leader.  Additionally, his paradoxical language would demand that to be great one must be the least, to be first one must be last, and to gain one’s life required losing it.  These sorts of paradoxes truly capture what it is to be in this world but not of it.  Even still his leadership principles prove true, especially in the education of those before us.

In a recent article, David Anderson of Bethel College writes of the three elements that shape education:  “our having been created in the image of God; the creation mandate; and the principle of stewardship” (p. 1).  Adding clarification he states, “These three elements…impact Christian teachers both inwardly and outwardly…The Christian educator’s concern should be for the students’ total development in all domains – cognitive, affective, physical, and spiritual” (p. 1).

He would go on to cite ten key properties of servant leadership which include:

  1. Listening
  2. Empathy
  3. Healing
  4. Awareness
  5. Persuasion
  6. Conceptualization
  7. Foresight
  8. Stewardship
  9. Commitment to the growth of people
  10. Building community

Building on these concepts he describes the necessity of instructors to model servant leadership concepts while developing the “whole person” within students.  His article is worth a read and his conclusions are worth consideration in the classroom.  He sums up his thoughts with the basic fact that faith is not merely taught but more often it is caught.  As instructors mirror the heart and example of Jesus Christ, with leadership present from a foundation of servanthood, students are certain not only to learn of Jesus Christ but to observe him personally in the life of the instructor.


The Teacher as Servant Leader by David Anderson

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