Servant Leadership Examples in the Bible | Point University Online (2023)

Servant Leadership Examples in the Bible | Point University Online (1)

When Jesus and His disciples came to the town of Capernaum, He asked them about a dispute they had on the way. They were arguing about who would be the greatest, and Jesus took the opportunity to speak about true leadership — the concept of servant leadership.

And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

Mark 9:35 NKJV

But what is servant leadership, exactly? The concept isn’t fully defined in Jesus’ words or any other simple phrase. Rather, it’s illustrated and illuminated in His life and ministry, and that’s where you should start if you want to become a more effective leader.

Of course, there are other servant leadership examples in the Bible that can help you along the way. By studying other godly men and women who demonstrated the core qualities of a servant leader, you can better appreciate their triumphs and struggles, as well as your own.

3 Servant Leadership Examples in the Bible

Here are three people who stand out as servant leadership examples in the Bible.

(Video) Servant Leadership - Dr. Stuart Pattico

1. Moses

“Hear now My words:

If there is a prophet among you,

I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;

I speak to him in a dream.

Not so with My servant Moses;

He is faithful in all My house.

I speak with him face to face,

Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;

(Video) (21st Forum) “Learning Humility: Servant Leadership.” / H*ernly K*im

And he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid

To speak against My servant Moses?”

Numbers 12:6-8

Moses withstood incredible opposition in his time as a leader. In this passage, his family came against him, and Aaron and Miriam questioned if God had spoken through him. That question was put to rest convincingly when God called Moses something few other people in all of Scripture are called — His servant. No one in the Old Testament received the esteemed title more than Moses.

It’s important to keep in mind that Moses only spoke in Numbers 12 to beg God to have mercy on the very people who questioned his status and integrity. And a similar thing happened in Exodus 32, when the people he led abandoned their faith in God to make a golden calf that they worshiped and sacrificed.

The background is arguably even more irreverent toward Moses than the event with Aaron and Miriam. The Israelites formed their plan because “the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain” and told Aaron: “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1).

There are a few remarkable things happening in that passage. First, Moses was delayed because he went to the mountain — for 40 days and 40 nights, with no food or water (Deuteronomy 9:9) — to receive God’s plan for Israel. Next, the term “this Moses” is a Hebrew phrase of disrespect (see 1 Samuel 10:27, 21:15, 25:21, 2 Samuel 13:17) for the one they credited for their exodus out of slavery in Egypt. And finally, of course, the idea is misplaced, as God, not Moses and not a golden calf, helped Israel escape slavery.

(Video) Bible Study: Leading Servant Leaders

God was rightfully angered with the Israelites and told Moses to leave Him alone, so He can destroy them and make a new nation with Moses. But Moses interceded to plead for his people. And later, when dealing with the consequences of the golden calf incident, Moses interceded again. This time, he asked God to “blot me out of Your book which You have written” (Exodus 32:32) if He won’t forgive their sin. Moses risked his life in this world and the next for the possibility of the Israelites’ salvation.

Moses stood up for others and put his life on the line for them. In another example of powerful leadership, he received and accepted godly wisdom from Jethro, his father-in-law (see Exodus 18). It’s clear that Moses exhibited many qualities of a servant leader, making him one of the most obvious candidates for servant leadership examples in the Bible.

Learn how you can use servant leadership to transform individuals, communities, and organizations for God’s glory in our Master of Transformative Ministry.

2. Esther

Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!

Esther 4:16

After receiving godly wisdom from Mordecai, who adopted the young Jewish girl as his own, the girl who became queen of Persia overcame her fears to fight against the plan to rid the empire of Jewish exiles. Esther was willing to die for her people.

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What Esther did may not be one of the more popular servant leadership examples in the Bible, but it exhibits two critical qualities of a servant leader that Moses fulfilled. She was receptive to wisdom and put her life on the line for the people she led.

Something else happens in the passage that warrants mentioning: Esther began asserting herself by telling Mordecai that she wanted the people to fast for three days. That’s important in two ways.

  • Esther goes from being afraid to act to taking the initiative. After directing the people to fast, Esther rejected Mordecai’s plan and devised two banquets to save her people.
  • The mention of fasting is almost certainly accompanied by prayer, given the nature of fasting in the Bible. In other words, it became remarkably clear that Esther was a woman of God. That’s especially interesting because the Book of Esther is one of two books of the Bible (along with the Song of Solomon) that don’t reference God directly. The resulting theme allows readers to see God’s presence throughout the text, and what’s happening here with Esther is no exception.

Esther was a woman of God who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her people. Her growth in a few short chapters and the rest of the book reveal many important qualities of a servant leader.

3. Peter

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

1 Peter 5:1-4

Peter’s transformation from an impulsive and inconsistent leader of the disciples — see his reactions to Jesus’ teachings and suffering (John 13:6, 18:20-27) — to a more charismatic leader in John 21 is worthy of in-depth study. So too is the follow-up in Acts 2-4 and the rest of the book.

The featured passage from 1 Peter reflected the disciple’s growth into a full-fledged servant leader. He identified himself as a “fellow elder” to the leaders of the church, demonstrating the community they all shared as spiritually mature leaders. And, just like Christ expressed Himself as the True Shepherd in John 10, they were all shepherds of the flock God has entrusted to them.

The responsibilities that Peter listed in a few verses function as critical qualities of a servant leader. They were charged with being an overseer, a shepherd, a servant, and a steward of God’s flock. Those outward responsibilities join with an inward motivation of willingness and eagerness, and certainly not for money or power.

(Video) The Heart of A Servant Leader Bible Study | Refuge City Online

Look at Peter’s life and ministry to see how those aspects transformed his ability to serve God as an effective leader. The same could be said for Moses, Esther, and several other servant leadership examples in the Bible. Dig into the Word of God to learn how you can be a more effective leader. An online Master of Transformative Ministry can equip you with a biblical foundation to transform individuals, communities, and organizations for God’s glory. You’ll also be transformed as a servant leader of His flock.

Enhance your impact across environments like church ministry, parachurch ministry, and nonprofit organizations. You’ll learn in a flexible environment at Point University, which pursues a mission to educate students for Christ-centered service and leadership throughout the world.


Who is an example of a servant leader in the Bible? ›

Moses was the first to practice servant-leadership (Ex. 32:11-14, 30-35). Servant leaders strengthen the weak and empower those entrusted to their care, and also show compassion towards the disadvantaged and the lost (Eze. 34:2-10).

What is the best example of servant leadership? ›

Abraham Lincoln is one example of a servant leader. Lincoln's actions during the US Civil War are often cited as prime examples of servant leadership behavior (Hubbard, 2011). In particular, many scholars look to his preservation of the Union during this conflict and the freeing of the Southern slaves.

What is a servant leadership explain using your own words and understanding? ›

The Definition

Servant leadership puts the needs, growth, and wellbeing of followers first. In other words, these types of leaders adopt a serve-first mindset and prioritize their organization, employees, and community above themselves.

What is servant leadership give examples? ›

While traditional leadership is focused on helping an organization thrive, servant leaders put the needs of their employees first. They focus on developing individuals who perform their best. Examples of servant leaders are Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Theresa.

How did Jesus show His servant leadership? ›

Jesus lived his life engaging people in such a way; He served them in such a way that their lives changed by his encounter with them. He was a servant because He dedicated his life to setting people free. He set them free by healing them, delivering them, and by teaching them.

Can you provide an example of a servant leader today? ›

Servant Leadership Examples

Herb Kelleher – Former CEO of Southwest Airlines known for putting employees first. Cheryl Bachelder – Former CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen who turned the brand around by serving the people who had invested the most in Popeyes. Art Barter – CEO of Datron World Communications, Inc.

What are 7 concepts of servant leadership? ›

7 Key Principles of Servant Leadership

Choose Ethics (Before Profit) Empower Others (Before Personal Gain) Privilege People (Before Tasks) Balance Focus With Flexibility (Before Making Decisions)

How do you practice servant leadership in your everyday life? ›

How to become a servant leader
  1. Lead by example. A servant leader should always lead their team by example. ...
  2. Show people why their job is important. ...
  3. Encourage collaboration and employee engagement. ...
  4. Help your team grow and develop. ...
  5. Care for your team members personally. ...
  6. Ask for feedback.

What are the 10 qualities of servant leadership? ›

This article examines a set of ten characteristics of the servant leader that are of critical importance. They are: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community.

What is the main goal of a servant leader? ›

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader's main focus is the thriving of their company or organization.

How do I see myself as servant leader? ›

You are a servant leader when you focus on the needs of others before you consider your own. It's a longer-term approach to leadership, rather than a technique that you can adopt in specific situations. Therefore, you can use it with other leadership styles such as Transformational Leadership.

What are the three core elements of servant leadership? ›

Servant leadership also aims to develop leadership qualities in others. This leadership style requires an individual to demonstrate characteristics such as empathy, listening, stewardship, and commitment to the personal growth of others.

What are the characteristics of a servant in the Bible? ›

While the specific ways in which we serve will differ in time, place, and position, there are things that all God's servants have in common.
  • A Servant Is Humble. ...
  • A Servant Prepares. ...
  • A Servant Perseveres. ...
  • A Servant Serves Where Needed. ...
  • A Servant Serves (or Not) As God Directs. ...
  • A Servant Expects to Suffer.
27 May 2016

How was Moses a servant leader? ›

Moses is often cited as a biblical example of servant leadership (Bell, 2014; Crowther, 2018, Boyer, 2019); he demonstrated a deep love for God and others, humility in his approach to God and his own abilities, and an impetus to serve God, and His chosen people.

What can we learn about servant leadership from the biblical example of Joshua? ›

Instead of taking glory for themselves, they give it to God. Servant leaders don't talk about themselves very much, and they don't need to brag about their accomplishments. They focus on serving God first, then their people, and then they themselves go last. This is certainly the behavior we see from Joshua.

What is the greatest strength of a servant leader? ›

Five Characteristics of Servant Leadership
  • Listening - listen receptively and nonjudgmentally. ...
  • Appreciation - value people and appreciate them for who they are, not just for what they give to the organization. ...
  • Humility - put other people first. ...
  • Trust - give trust to others.
9 Mar 2021

What are the 7 virtuous constructs of servant leadership? ›

Servant leadership encompasses seven virtuous constructs, which work in processional pattern (Patterson, 2003). These are (a) agapao love, (b) humility, (c) altruism, (d) vision, (e) trust, (f) empowerment, and (g) service. These constructs are virtues and become illuminated within a servant leadership context.

What is the most important quality of a servant leader for you? ›

An important quality of a servant leader is their ability to conceptualize, or imagine the possibilities of future and reconcile it with current realities. This ability helps the leader visualize a bright future, and take the necessary steps to get there.

Who in the Bible was a servant? ›

Many persons in the Old Testament are called "servants, " among them Abraham ( Gen 26:24 ), Jacob ( Gen 32:4 ), Joshua ( Jos 24:29 ), Ruth ( Ru 3:9 ), Hannah ( 1 Sam 1:11 ), Samuel ( 1 Sam 3:9 ), Jesse ( 1 Sam 17:58 ), Uriah the Hittite ( 2 Sam 11:21 ), Joab ( 2 Sam 14:20 ), Isaiah ( Isa 20:3 ), Daniel ( Da 9:17 ), Ben ...

Who are considered are the servant leaders? ›

You are a servant leader when you focus on the needs of others before you consider your own. It's a longer-term approach to leadership, rather than a technique that you can adopt in specific situations. Therefore, you can use it with other leadership styles such as Transformational Leadership.

How was Esther a servant leader? ›

She accepted and used her position for the good of her people. Queen Esther was a servant leader that selflessly placed the Jews before herself and even at the price of possibly losing her life. Moreover, she bloomed into an influential and authentic leader by placing the Jews above herself.

Was Moses a servant leader? ›

Moses is often cited as a biblical example of servant leadership (Bell, 2014; Crowther, 2018, Boyer, 2019); he demonstrated a deep love for God and others, humility in his approach to God and his own abilities, and an impetus to serve God, and His chosen people.

Who is the first servant of God? ›

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The young Catholic Akash Bashir is the first "Servant of God" in the history of the Church of Pakistan. After the official announcement by the Catholic Church of Pakistan, great joy has spread in the Christian communities.

Who is the humble servant in the Bible? ›

Jesus willingly humbled himself, and he even went so low that he offered himself to die for our sins. Jesus didn't die just any death.


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