Parents as Servant-Leaders

Lately I’ve been considering my role as a mother, and how best to impact my kids for a successful future as mature, involved adults. And I’ve been coming back to the biblical idea of the servant-leader. Jesus, of course, is the best example of this. He led and influenced large numbers of people, while also humbling himself to serve them (like when he washed his disciples’ feet). I think this model fits the role of a parent quite well as we seek to lead our little ones through the maze of social customs, moral values, and general education, all the while serving them as their primary care-givers responsible for their nurturing in every way.

I am trying to be mindful of this ideal when I am getting up for the tenth time during dinner to clean up the spilled milk and provide a refill. Or when nightmares and funny noises and lovies that have fallen off the bed conspire to keep me from a good night’s sleep. Or when dirty diapers need changing or someone has gotten sick on the couch. Not really fun times or good times, but important, serving times. The exact times when the servant side of the servant-leader is best displayed. We can find joy (not fun or happiness necessarily) in those times knowing we are following Jesus’ example in caring for our little ones and putting them first. When we are not feeling the love, He can provide it for us.

The servant-leader idea is a bit of a balancing act. It is important not to overplay one side or the other. Too much servant, and you become a doormat with spoiled, bratty kids. Too much leader (authority), and you become a tyrant with resentful, fearful kids. The trick is to get it just right (or close), somewhere in the middle. The balance is where you lead in love and strength controlled; where you serve in love to lift them up.

It is others-centered rather than self-centered. It is impossible on our own. But by grace, when we trust in God, He can enable and empower us in this great task of shaping and equipping our kids to realize their potential and become productive, compassionate, responsible adults ready to take their place in society.

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