The Character of a Leader: Christ-like humility

The business world is increasingly seeking and hiring humble leaders, as it has become clear that in this global competitive economy no one person has the answer; leaders must create space for others to contribute.  But we need more, says Google SVP Lazlo Bock: “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.”

Before we delve into the Word to study humility as a foundation for great leadership, look at this short video on the topic (


Luke 22:24-30 [NLT]

24 Then [the disciples] began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.

28 “You have stayed with me in my time of trial. 29 And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right 30 to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Observation and Reflection Questions

Context: This conversation between Jesus and his twelve disciples occurred during the last supper, the evening of his arrest.  Jesus announced one from among them would betray him, and their discussion quickly escalated from denial to self-estimation, competitiveness and ranking of greatness.

  1. In response their contention for greatness, Jesus said his disciples should be different from the world. In your own world describe how Jesus’ view of leadership and greatness is different from contemporary society?
  2. How did Jesus model this leadership to his disciples (as portrayed in this text)?
  3. Is it wrong to aspire to leadership? Motivate from this text.

Personal reflection and application questions

Clearly the Bible has no problem with leaders wielding authority – it is an entrustment of God for his purpose.  Yet Jesus said that his disciples should not lead as the world does: they must not be self-serving leaders but rather selfless servant-leaders as he modeled. 

  1. Is Jesus’ teaching relevant to our context today?
    1. Where have you witnessed what Jesus refers to as “the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’”?
    2. Where have you ever witnessed the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant”?
  2. Can you identify with the disciple’s competitiveness and judgmentalism? [Do you discern the root problem here?]
    1. Recall an instance when you esteemed yourself more qualified or important than others. Why did it happen?
    2. Recall an instance when you cowered away from taking the lead (when you should have) because you esteemed yourself less qualified or important than others. Why did it happen?
  3. Jesus was talking about leadership, rank and authority in this context. In your own words write a few pointers on “HOW TO LEAD WITH AUTHORITY” contrasting contemporary leadership models with Christ’s model for leadership using this set of descriptors: Self-serving leadership vs Selfless serving leadership.


Prayerfully reflect your style and ambition for leadership as you on Jesus’ model of leadership as you meditate on our Lord’s message “I am among you as one who serves.”


Motivational Gifts 3 – the servant

The aim of the devotional bible study is to grow in the understanding and appreciation of motivational gift of the servant (also called “helper”).


Luke 10:38-42

38  Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  39  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  40  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

41  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42  but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”


Note: in the reading of today’s Text we will focus on the character and motives of Martha the sister of Lazarus to better understand the motivational gifts of the servant / helper. This is one of the seven motivational gifts (also called “the gifts of the Father” according to 1 Corinthians 12:4-6) that each person is born with which drives his/her actions throughout his/her life.

  1. Servant/ helper motivated people generally have the following characteristics. Can you recognize them in this example of Martha?  Comment and give verse references from the Scripture above.
    1. They demonstrate love by meeting practical needs.
    2. The can easily identify what needs to be done to make things work.
    3. They find fulfilment in working with their hands.
    4. They enjoy showing hospitality.
    5. They thrive in short term tasks such as meetings or events.
    6. Servers prefer completing tasks by themselves rather than delegating it to others.
    7. They are good followers of leaders and good supporters of a vision.
    8. They are selfless and will adapt their schedules to better serve someone.

2. In this account Martha was frustrated with her sister (and even with the Lord himself) – why?  What does that suggest of a potential weakness in server motivated people?


  1. Looking at Martha as an example of a server / helper gifted person – what should a person with this motivational gift be cautious of before taking on another serving opportunity? What would you counsel such a person on a regular basis?
  2. Considering the characteristics listed in Observation question 1 above, why do we consider servant motivated people as “gifts from God the Father”? i.e. how do they benefit me, you and the world around us?

Application and Prayer

Note: If you have not completed the free online motivational gift test, do so now:

  1. Are you a strong server/ helper motivated person? Considering this example of Martha:
    1. What are you grateful for about your gift, which you must cherish?
    2. What must you be cautious about in your interactions with others? [hint: have you learned to say “no”?]
    3. Thank God for how he made you, and pray that you may not grow weary in doing good, that he would strengthen and remind you to do what you do joyfully, and that he will help you to maintain your priorities and not live as a man-pleaser seeking applause, but one who serves Christ expecting his reward.
  2. Who do you know that are strongly servant / helper motivated?
    1. Thank them for their good influence in your life – for their selfless service and hospitality, challenging you to be more like Christ.
    2. Thank God for them and their influence for the good in your life. Pray that God will bless with even greater humility and endurance to serve well, and that God will build a hedge around them and their family and devotional times so that they may not be burned out in their serving.