Over the weekend I watched the interview with President Zelensky on the news. As he talked, he was still dressed in his military combat fatigues. He clearly hasn’t let his leadership go to his head.
I can still remember over a year ago when Russia first began its invasion of Ukraine and the United States offered to help him escape to a safer place. After politely thanking us, he resided it to stay in his native land to help protect and defend it. He refused to use his position to his own benefit.
- Put himself in danger’s way
- Risked the safety of his family
- Valued the lives of the people he serves
- Leads from the front
Of Jewish descent, Zelensky has humbled himself instead of exalting himself. His beliefs have influenced his actions. He is known on the world stage and his boldness is admirable.
Instead of choosing to be whisked away and served, he leads from the front lines. He exemplifies the long-forgotten model of servant leaders.
When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, servant leadership was highly valued. According to one site, this type of leadership is, “A non-traditional leadership philosophy, embedded in a set of behaviors and practices that place the primary emphasis on the well-being of those being served.”
This leadership style focuses more on others instead of selfish desires. Servant leaders aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty when it serves the greater good. Martin Luther King modeled this on the front lines during the civil rights movement.
Moses gave up his position in Egypt to boldly stand with his people, although he knew it would cost him the comforts of his life (Exodus 8:1-25). Servant leaders are strong because they don’t use their power for selfish ambitions. Below are a few qualities of true servant leaders:
- Possess self-awareness.
- Have credibility.
- Focused on relationship building.
- Have a bias faction.
- Exhibit humility despite own authority.
- Empower the team.
- Stay authentic.
- Be constant and consistent.
- Be a role model for followers.
- Be fully present.
When the Messiah (Jesus) arrived, His teachings not only contradicted the ways of the world—but the teachings of His own people. Jesus taught His disciples it is better to serve than to be served (Matthew 20:18).
He emphasized the needs of others before His own needs. Jesus chose to lead by example. Although He is God, He didn’t consider it beneath Himself to serve and care for the outcasts (Leviticus 19:34, Proverbs 31:8-9, Matthew 25:40).
Jesus personified service when He washed the feet of the Disciples and served them during the last supper where He even served the one who would betray Him. Then Jesus led them to the garden where He boldly surrendered Himself out of his love for us. Jesus led from the front lines, all the way to the cross.
The irony of the cross is while man tried to bury Jesus, God lifted Him up (Psalm 57:11, John 12:32). He was raised for men to see Him die, but we know He is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16: 19, Acts 2:33). Jesus redefined leadership and power.
- He didn’t seek the approval of men.
- He wasn’t focused on this life.
- He was focused on God’s will in everything.
- He was selfless.
Likewise, Pres. Zelensky’s party is The Servant of the People. Our Jewish stepfathers got it wrong and so do we; it is God’s job to exalt us. Great leaders understand what servant leadership means!