The servant leadership paradigm of Jesus Christ applied in a current pastoral context
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The church, a congregation of believers, functions optimally under the leadership of effective and capable leaders. Pastors or ministers are charged with the responsibility of ‘feeding’ the lambs of God. This assignment ought to be carried out from a love of Jesus and His people. Jesus has assigned specific people to positions in the church, just as He commissioned the apostles to preach the good news and disciple the believers. This study sought to determine the kinds of leadership operating in the church today, and how leadership as commonly practised compares with Jesus’ style of servant leadership. South Africa is facing tremendous leadership challenges. The church is under siege, and the government is looking at ways to regulate the church. The views of those in the church vary widely, with some in support of regulation and others wanting the church to self-regulate. All this points to a leadership vacuum and ineffectiveness. South Africa is a predominantly Christian country, and that opens the church to widespread criticism when there are serious challenges. This study seeks to bring the standard of leadership as laid down by Jesus, back into the church. Those who lead do so at the behest of the Master, the head of the church. It is therefore fitting that they emulate the Master and serve as they lead. Servant leadership was portrayed by Jesus as He chose and empowered those whom He would leave to establish the church. He taught and mentored them, firmly establishing the principles of servant leadership and of God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus left the apostles to continue the mission of God. He laid the foundation; those who want to be first in the kingdom had to be servants, and a servant was not to be above his Master. All must serve just as Jesus did, with compassion, love and care for the people of God. The empirical study sought to examine the servant leadership paradigm demonstrated by Jesus and to compare it with current church leadership, targeting pre-selected churches in South Africa. Assessment was done in fifteen churches, through interviews with the pastors and surveys with the members. This revealed the extent to which church leaders emulate Christ, and how church members perceive and respond to their leaders. A literature review was conducted on leadership theories, and the styles, character, competencies and functions of a good leader, focusing on servant leadership. Literature was also reviewed for an understanding of servant leadership as portrayed by Jesus and selected biblical characters. The study concludes by formulating a servant leadership model and suggesting developmental areas for church leaders.
- Theology