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Have you ever worked for someone who just barked orders, made sure you knew who was in charge and failed to ask your opinion about how to do things better or how to solve a particular problem? If you have, then you know it leaves you feeling “less than,” undervalued and just an employee collecting a paycheck. Follow the rules; do as you’re told; and you’ll be fine. A lot of people in my generation can relate.
Or have you had the good fortune of being under a leader who guides, rather than directs? Who takes control but is open to group input and group decision-making? One who inspires, rather than commands? It's night and day from the authoritarian and dictatorship style above.
John Maxwell defines leadership in one word– influence. A servant leader is one who understands that his or her influence individually can make a difference, but collectively can make a huge impact.
As a Christian business woman and a church leader, I have seen strong leadership exhibited in both “worlds,” but not enough servant leadership. I believe servant leadership can transform your life, your business and your church. I also believe it is a biblical mandate for all Christians in a position of leadership and authority over others.
Servant leadership is best defined by Jesus Himself: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it
over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26–28).
Bottom line? If you are in authority over anyone as a Christian, you must serve. Servant leadership has nothing to do with weakness or being a doormat, but has everything to do with using your gifts and talents in a positive way. Servant leadership also empowers those we lead to accomplish great things.
The modern servant leadership movement was launched in 1970 by a man named Robert K. Greenleaf. He published an essay called, The Servant as Leader, where he coined the words "servant-leader" and "servant leadership." Greenleaf defined the servant-leader as follows:
"The servant-leader is servant first... It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions..."
Since then, there have been numerous studies and research done and it's been shown that nothing can match servant leadership when it comes to impacting both people and profit. So no matter if you are a leader in business or church, this isn't just theory. Some of the key values and characteristics of servant leaders are that they are open-minded, trustworthy, helpful, selfless, aware and accountable. They care first about others.
Having grown up in a pastor’s home, I have watched my parents follow the example of their parents as lay ministers in the church cheerfully giving of their time, talent and treasure continuously to this day.
As Christians, our example is Jesus, who came as a servant. He was in community with his 12 disciples. He ate where they ate; he stayed where they stayed; and he even washed their feet—an unthinkable act and demeaning task left to the lowest type of slave. What’s more is that Christ came to give His life. Likewise, we are to give our lives not only in service to Him but to our fellow man, including those in the church and outside it (Mark 12:31).
More than anything else, living as a Christian means serving, giving and ministering to others. Contrary to the world's approach to leadership, the question in the kingdom of God is not how many people are serving the leaders, but how many people are the leaders serving? When we serve others, we serve Jesus. And when it comes to the giving of our time, talent and treasure, I believe the blessings will chase you down if you are obedient to Him! (Malachi 3:10 and Deuteronomy 28: 1-14)
Jesus demonstrated service and humility by washing the feet of His disciples—a demeaning task left to the lowest type of slave.
The next generation is our future. Let us inspire them toward servant leadership through the art of giving time, talent and treasure.
Just as the heritage and legacy of servant leadership has been passed down to me, I want to pass it down to the next generation by teaching them the art of giving time, talent and treasure. They won’t learn it by “osmosis”. It has to be modeled and taught. The concept runs contrary to the inherent self-centered nature of sinful man.
We must remember that our authority is not something to which we are entitled or that we have earned. We are accountable to God who has brought us to our place of leadership. In order for us to always be a fresh vessel used of God for whatever platform he has called us to as leaders, we must stay in an attitude of giving and servanthood, because God is the greatest giver of all.
One word of caution to Christian leaders: We can have a tendency to over-strategize leadership. We see the strategic benefits of servant leadership and allow that to become our reason to serve.
As Austin Burkhart of ONE2 Conferences aptly states, "That’s an extremely dangerous mistake because ultimately that turns serving into manipulation. As followers of Jesus, we cannot forget this: Servant leadership is not a strategy to get people to follow you or a good habit to develop over time. It is a biblical mandate.”
I would love the opportunity to bring this important topic to your church or organization. Together, we can make a positive impact on the next generation, our families, communities, workplace, culture and world.
I have known Jan Aderholt for several years and served with her in ministry. I know Jan to be steadfast in her calling from God, her heart to serve, her love for all people and her leadership ability. Her platform ministry, vocal ability and her musical talent with the Sax is very special and anointed. Her faithfulness to serve in leadership areas is outstanding and always given from a heart of love. A very SPECIAL young lady! I highly believe in her and recommend her in talent, leadership and love for Kingdom
-Nancy Harmon, Nancy Harmon Ministries
It is not new news that as a society, Americans are very self-centered. And seldom do we find an individual who is genuinely interested in the dreams and plans of others...that is, until you meet Jan Aderholt.
I have been closely associated with Jan Stanley Aderholt for many years, watching her grow and develop musically and spiritually since her teens. At an early age Jan was already exhibiting a spirit of generosity in doing for others and has only increased as the Lord has blessed her life.
Jan doesn't encroach on people's lives uninvited, but she does make herself available and it is her compassionate personality that draws people into her confidence. She is gifted with an ability to see where people's needs really are and she immediately begins to stir up the gift of God in their lives. She dreams with the dreamer, is compassionate to the afflicted and laughs with the joyful. She is a true model for servant leadership and I highly recommend her.
-Jerry Hobbs, Pastor and CEO of The Hobbs Group, LLC
The first time I met Jan I knew there was something special about her. She is a gifted and talented woman that God is using to touch people's lives and build the kingdom.
-Suellen Roberts, Founder & President, Christian Women in Media
I've been blessed to have the opportunity to travel around the world and have engaged with women in every imaginable setting. I have witnessed so much competition and strategizing for positions of power, so it is especially refreshing to have a friend and colleague who does not do that! I personally had a situation where Jan not only genuinely cared for my need, but she went above and beyond what I could have ever expected, knowing full well that there was nothing in it for her. She was simply operating in her God-given gifts, talents and experiences.
Since then, we have had many conversations where I have heard her heart and desire to be a giver and not a taker. She is a servant leader and I know that her motivations are pure. She believes that when we take care of other people’s needs, God will take care of ours.
I am encouraged and inspired every time I speak with Jan and feel she is truly a woman after God’s own heart. She is transparent and practices what she teaches, which is to give out of our time, talent and treasures. Jan you are a TREASURE to us all!!
-Tressa Lemky, International Speaker and Creator of "Beautiful God's Way" Ministries (Also a former professional fashion and runway model, radio and television broadcaster)
Would you like to equip your church or organization to be more effective servant leaders, to cultivate a culture of trust, and develop the next generation of leaders with encouragement, humility and grace?
Let's connect and explore the possibilities! Simply complete the form below and I'll get back to you promptly.
I look forward to hearing from you!