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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reflections on Servant Leadership

Dr. Gary Roberts
Robertson School of Government

I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them (John 13:16-17).

The faculty-student relationship at Regent University is a great privilege and joy. This week’s devotional is inspired by reflections from a graduating student who had endured a very difficult semester. We are blessed at Regent with students possessing great gifts of spiritual passion in combination with natural intelligence and abilities.

 It is very gratifying for faculty to play a role in student growth and development. God always gives the increase, but He uses the body of Christ to prepare us for Kingdom service. The humbling and joyful aspect of student and faculty fellowship is that God places special people in our lives at just the right time to encourage us when we are discouraged. The decision to move forward or not is ours, but we are never alone.

I look back on my own life and thank the Lord for His intervention. There are times when I listened and obeyed, and other times I stubbornly rebelled. But the glory of God is that even our mistakes and sorrows produce a pleasant fruit as they become the means for the Lord to exercise Godly discipline. God is like the ultimate Global Positioning System, no matter how many wrong turns we make, each time He plots the correct course back to Him (an idea that a pastor eloquently presented in a devotional.)

As a faculty member, I am not as concerned about the final grade a student receives during a challenging period (though grades are important), as I am in the growth in Christian character. We know that the Lord is always responsible for the final outcome as the “Lord gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7) and I have faith that no weapon formed against a Christian student will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). We possess the assurance that in the midst of trial the Lord uses the situation like a crucible. The Lord separates the metal from the dross as we persevere through a prolonged period of tribulation that surfaces weaknesses, insecurities and problems that must be addressed in order to advance to the next Kingdom duty station. In essence, it is a spiritual warfare battle that is designed to perfect our heart and character, which is far more important than the proximal performance outcome.

Through every trial and valley, there are consequences that form scars that become a part of our spiritual bodies. Just like Jesus on the cross, our trials produce the nail prints and wounds in our sides that remind us of the struggle and price to pay for Godly obedience and virtue. I know that the Lord is preparing Regent students for greater Kingdom service. The temptations faced strengthen spiritual muscles for the next great challenge. From glory to glory!

My prayer is that students will always be a doer of the Word regardless of the obstacles. Follow the great example of the Lord Jesus in the final days of his ministry at the Last Supper, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the trial, and the humiliation of the cross. Jesus modeled perfect servant leadership love in the last supper by washing the feet of the disciples who would abandon their "post" at the most critical juncture; washed the feet of Judas who would betray Him; forgave the disciples as they slept when He needed prayer support in the Garden during the agony and temptation over the impending crucifixion; endured the false accusations and humiliation of the trial without protesting; forgave those who crucified Him; demonstrated more concern for others in the midst of personal agony by forgiving the thief on the cross and telling John to assume the care of His mother; and most importantly, received punishment for our sins and voluntarily endured the most excruciating punishment, being separated from the presence of God.

Jesus modeled perfect servant leadership as agape love. He is our standard, and since only Jesus achieved perfection, our fleshly efforts will fall short. There is no condemnation for failure, only grace and more scars that remind us of how far we have come and far we have to go. Regent students are destined for leadership, and the greatest test of any leader is how they cope with the inevitable failures and betrayals of those around them. We can never past that test, however, until we humble ourselves and allow the Lord to minister grace to our wounds and failures. As others will fail us, we will fail others, and we must also practice self-forgiveness.

New stages of our lives expose hidden splinters as well as the administration of new wounds. Practicing ongoing humility and transparency is the weapon that causes the devil to flee. They are the powerful spiritual warfare weapons that keep us connected to the vine. Pride will cause us to rely on our own resources or turn to the many false gods that provide temporal power and security, but humility will always lead back to the foot of the cross and to the loving arms of the Holy Spirit, the source of all godly power. My prayer is that each student will leave Regent with a double portion of anointing! To God be the glory!

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