Summary: Servant Leaders choose to use persuasion as against coercion to bring others to their point of view. How does the bible teach us this?
When I started this series on Servant Leadership, I had promised that we will continue to look at Servant Leadership in the context of day to day life. I do not want any of us to be put off
How do we convince others about something that we want done? How do we make some do something that we want done? How do we get some thing from others. There are multiple ways. Each of us adapt our own ways of doing this. We just celebrated Mother’s day a couple of weeks back. I am sure all of us must have heard this at-least once in our lifetime. “do it because I am saying so”. When we are children, generally we hear it from our mothers. When we grow up we hear this from our teachers probably. When we get spouses, it is said in a very different manner. “You don’t love me any more” is a common refrain which convinces husbands to do some things wanted by the wives. When parents grow old, the convincing becomes a sort of “emotional black mail”. “I carried you for nine months and looked after you so well, and is this the way you treat me now?”
How about Leader follower relationship? The sad part is, we keep hearing this, from the so called leaders. The words might not be exactly the same, but the message is very clear. “Do it because I as a leader am telling you!!” This is not uncommon in leadership. In the traditional Power and Authority model of leadership, many people go with this definition of leadership “Leadership is the power or right to give commands, enforce obedience, and make final decisions.”
There are many leaders who “rule” by this law. By coercion and by the power that goes by their position.
On the contrary, Servant-leaders rely on persuasion, rather than positional authority in making decisions. Servant-leaders seek to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of servant-leadership. The servant-leader is effective at building consensus within groups. Paul had a relationship with Philomen which gave him the right to order him or command him, but Paul chooses to use love and affection instead of coercion to communicate to him about Onesimus. Paul says “…Although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.” (Philemon 8-9)
But the real question is, Can servant leaders be persuasive? One of the myths about Servant leaderships is that Servant Leaders are expected to be quiet, not speaking up, and agreeing to every one. Is that your understanding of Servant Leadership also? How can one expect Servant Leaders to be Persuasive?
Acts 26: 1-29 is one of the most compelling court speeches by Paul. He nearly converted King Agrippa. This passage gives us many clues on what is required for persuasion. John C Maxwell, the well known Leadership Guru, says that there some characteristics which make people listen to you.
1. Our Relationships: People listen to us because of who we know. : Paul was clear about whose name is he using to make King Agrippa listen to him. He was talking about his relationship with Jesus. (Acts 26: 14-18)
3. Character: People listen to us because of our integrity : The Jews knew Paul well and knew that he had kept all laws. (Acts 26: 4-5)
4. Relevance: People listen to us because we identify with their needs. The need of the Jews was a messiah, and Paul was telling them that this promise is being fulfilled ( Acts 26: 6-7)
5. Insight: People listen to us because of what we know. Paul knew the Gospel Truth, that Christ is the messiah and that He would suffer, that He would be the first one to rise from the dead, and would bring light to the Jewish people and to the gentiles (Acts 26: 22-23)
6. Vulnerability: People listen to us because we are genuinely transparent. Paul was not afraid to talk about his past, what he did to persecute those who believed in Jesus Christ. (Acts 26: 9-11)
7. Experience: People listen to us because we’ve succeeded in the past. Paul explains how he was successful in declaring the Gospel to the people (Acts 26: 19-20)
8. Humility: People listen to us when we incarnate meekness. Paul know that he stands on the strength of his God, and he is also making sure that he speaks the truth to both great and small (Acts 26: 22)