Being a Leader or Being a Boss

I am reading a book named “the Empowered Leader, 10 Keys to Servant Leadership.” This book was written by Calvin Miller. At the beginning of each chapter there is a letter from the follower to the leader. There is a comment in letter 1, that I find very interesting. “I am looking for a pastor who really believes that he who is greatest among you must be your servant (see Matthew 20:26). For me, Jesus abandoned His need for CEO status that night he knelt with a basin and towel and started washing feet. This is a modern age and all that, but I’m not looking for a pastor with an eelskin briefcase and matching Daytimer. I am far more eager to follow that leader who is unashamed to carry a basin and towel. That’s the person who lives as Jesus lived.” The point of this letter is the follower is tired of Pastors starting as a leader, and finishing as a boss, “tending to their religious machines, ordering them to produce growth.”

I am not using this as an indictment against the modern pastor, it is something that God has used to challenge me. What is my role as a professor in the classroom? Am I to be a boss or a leader. If my role is boss, then I will work hard to make sure students pay attention by closing students laptops if it appears they are surfing the web or sending emails. Or I may want them to be quiet and pay complete attention to me, because I am the only one who knows anything. It seems to be this type of environment is detrimental to what I want to see in the student’s life and in my classroom. If I play the role of a leader, then I will challenge the student to think differently. I will prepare classroom events that engage different learning styles. I will ask the students challenging questions that help them learn how exciting it is to learn! These are things that are important to me, things that I have been taught over the years that have been beneficial to my growth.

If I am going to put a towel on and take a basin to wash my students feet and serve I need to be prepared and willing to love. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What does it mean to be a leader in the classroom?

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4 thoughts on “Being a Leader or Being a Boss

  1. Over the years, as a pastor I’ve learned that its one thing to talk about the theory or philosophy of say..engaging the culture..or spending time with un-churched people as Jesus did, and its quite another to go and give an example and invite others to join you so they can see what it looks like. I think this is the towel and wash basin mentality of a servant pastor, leader, whoever. A true servant will serve his followers by being an example of what he teaches vs. sharing something he has learned from a book or heard on a podcast. I find this challenging in my life because it demands that I re-prioritize my time and where I spend my time. Church as an organization over the years has taught me that people come to you, to your office, and you don’t really go out to others. This is counter productive to being with people who aren’t comfortable even being at church and demands a paradigm shift for the pastor who wants to serve his flock by being a servant through being an example.

    • Great comment Scott! Just like with my employees, I do not want to see myself as a baby sitter of students. I want to engage them and see them become stronger Christians as well as leaders of change within the community. Thus my desire to be a leader in the classroom, not just someone who closes their lap top when they are not paying attention.

  2. I have always loved the challenge presented there by Jesus: that the greatest must serve. It makes it easy, at least at times, to motivate myself to serve my co-workers and my classmates, and my family and friends. Sometimes relationships can get in the way – when there is a power struggle in play, or a lifetime of sibling rivalry, etc. But the Truth never changes, and when you have an attitude aligned with Jesus’, it’s much more enjoyable to live your life this way. Thanks for helping draw a connection between the program I’m in now and my calling as it pertains to my faith.

  3. I agree that it takes lots of love, passion, and devotion for a leader to serve his followers. But, sometimes, it happens that even a great teacher-leader is shadowed at the beginning by the ‘flow’ of traditional instructors who came before him in the same program. In other terms, students, used to traditional instructions don’t pay attention to the new servant-leader, because they’re already in a mind-set of passivity. I see some of them opening their laptops, checking their emails, and their facebook accounts! You want to “challenge the students to think differently”. They have to take up your challenge at the same time… a very important leverage point to make the change. I always think if they only close their laptop… just once! It only takes that “once” to change their learning, and probably their life!

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