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Challenges of institutionalizing servant leadership in an organization

- What are some of the challenges of institutionalizing servant leadership in an organization?

Unless an organization is a nonprofit organization, all organizations try to attain the highest profits possible. Attaining quick results is essential to all leaders in these organizations. Many leaders may see servant leadership as a “slower to respond” leadership style. Servant leadership takes more time to implement. For example, in a non-business situation like a fire, servant leadership would not be effective. An authoritarian type of leadership style would be more useful so that everyone reacts promptly to the fire. Many leaders may think that they do not have the time to implement servant leadership and that they need quick results and profits. Most of these leaders do not understand that instead of servant leadership a leadership style may evolve that is not God-centered. Quick results and profits may be caused by greed.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming (Colossians 3:5-6).
A greedy organization may in the end crumble.

- What are some of the cultural characteristics that can diminish servant leadership and how can they be overcome?

One cultural characteristic that can diminish servant leadership is individualism. Individualism is part of the American culture. To be an effective servant leader a servant leader must think of others and not just about themselves. Employees spend so much time at work that many consider the workplace to be a 2nd home. If anyone does not provide for his relative, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). Just like a family at home, the workplace can be like a family, which is why a leader must provide by serving. Individualism in leadership can be overcome by thinking of others and keeping a positive mindset where every decision made effects everyone.

Another cultural characteristic that can diminish servant leadership is the increasing number of childless marriages. Some couples cannot have children which are very unfortunate, but more couples each year decide not to have kids. A couple who decides not to have kids is a couple that does not want to serve anyone but themselves. A childless couple that chooses not to have kids has chosen not to leave anything behind once they die. No matter what wealth one achieves it will eventually disappear leaving no trace that one existed, while a child will carry a part of their parents in them to the next generation. This is all happening at a time where childbirth is provided with more luxury and safety than before. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground (Genesis 1:28).” On the opposite end are couples who have kids and then get divorced or do not love and support their kids. To fix this the culture will need a more God-centered and loving approach in every part of the culture. It may be too late for the current generation to change, but future generations can learn from the current generation’s mistakes if educated properly. For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).

Provide a list of "best practices" for an organization dedicated to practicing servant leadership in the area of HR policies, training and leadership development, customer service, and decision making.

There are many “best practices” for an organization dedicated to practicing servant leadership. One best practice is to provide coaching and training whenever possible. My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Another best practice is to hire employees that follow a God-centered approach. He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20). Also make sure that everyone projects love not hate. Love is above knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1)

- What is the difference between a man-centered approach to servant leadership and a God centered one?

Man-centered approach is less focused or not focused at all on God; it is not centered in God. People that use a man-centered approach may mention God but they do not follow his words. Man-centered approach will focus more on personal gain or pleasure than following God. Someone who follows a man-centered approach prefers the praise of people than the praise of God.

Someone that uses a God-centered approach will use a leadership style that may not go along with people that are faithful. It may not be viewed as a modern leadership style. Choices made by a God-centered approach may also not be the easiest to accomplish which is why it may require more explanation or persuasion.


- What are some of the challenges of practically practicing servant leadership?

Many leaders in the business world prefer to be policy makers or disciplinarians instead of serving others. This way they appear to be strong and also make others work harder because they are afraid of losing their jobs. Another big challenge is not to try and acquire wealth, power, and fame but to worry about meeting and identifying the needs of others. Many leaders became leaders just to acquire wealth, power, and fame. These types of leaders’ eventually loose popularity and are not remembered. Also, someone who is not a natural servant leader may have difficulty adjusting to a servant style and may give up.


- How does a biblical, covenantal perspective inform our understanding of servant leadership?

It informs us to serve God first. Only by showing obedience to God we can show our love to him. Using a God-centered approach every leadership decision is made with God in mind.

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