The Clay Feet of Servant Leadership

  • Larry G. Locke


The modern philosophy of servant leadership was introduced 50 years ago. Since that time it has been developed into a much-studied leadership theory. It has also enjoyed substantial adoption by businesses and other organizations, and its adoption has been found to correlate with several positive outcomes. At the same time, some in the Christian community have come to identify servant leadership with Christ, Christianity, and the Bible. A few have gone so far as to claim it is a biblical mandate for Christian leaders. In this article, the author will investigate whether such identification is warranted. The author will analyze the theory’s origins, exegete two Bible passages often cited in support of identifying servant leadership with Christ, and compare some of Christ’s actions against certain published requirements of servant leadership theory. The author will conclude that identifying servant leadership with Christianity is unwarranted and may cause Christians to accept the theory without critical review. This uncritical acceptance could potentially undermine both further development of the theory and the performance of Christian leaders.

Dialogue III