Last month we discussed how to recognize a true servant leader and a controlling leader. Both are far different from each other, but are easy to spot when you truly look. It’s important to know the leadership you place yourself under, because you will begin to lead in the same way. When you ignore needed corrections, the results could be devastating.
I’ve seen people follow controlling leadership and they are capped, their true potential is never seen or utilized. This eventually causes hurt, and hurt unchecked becomes bitterness. We all want to be obedient and honoring to those who have been placed over us, but there may come a time when you will have to confront the controlling leader and express the areas you see that are not healthy. This is not in judgement, but in love, and in the hopes of restoring such a one to the place God has called them to be.
I have seen many a leader become a controlling leader. Some can last many, many years before they fall; others have their morals and ethics become so distorted that the Lord exposes the deception. We hope that they will seek counsel and be restored to a healthy place. Some will refuse to take the heed and eventually have nothing, or just a handful of people they can lead. Normally, even those people have become unhealthy, focusing on the gift and not the character of the leader.
There are a few ways to spot a servant leader and a controlling leader. Remember to check yourself to see if you’re growing in a heathy way, or if you are withering on the vine. Healthy leadership is so wonderful to sit under; the leader is not perfect, but mature, and handles everything in love and for the purpose of bringing healthy growth. Let’s look at the qualities of both the controlling leader and the servant leader.
How to recognize a controlling leader or a servant leader:
They can’t see your full potential. You will always serve their needs at their speed and ability to take risks. Your potential will be capped.
They have a negative response to your leadership and growth. In other words, they question when you are moving forward, and the answer will always be “no” when you place an idea or vision in front of them, because there can only be one leader and you’re not it. If they feel they cannot make the idea/vision come to pass, then they shut it down.
You challenge them with your walk and your relationships, because their fears stop them from moving forward. They till the same ground, thinking they are just perfecting what they’re doing, but tilling ground and not planting seeds will never bring a harvest.
A controlling leader will respect other leaders when there are no potential threats to themselves. They are leading something different than they, so there’s no chance of true light being shown on them, no threat of losing a title or position or seeing their weakness.
The servant leader sees your potential and they desire to train you, work with you, and build you up to take risks. A servant leader knows how valuable you are.
When you make choices or decisions, a servant leader’s first response isn’t “no” but rather it’s, “How can I help you? How can I show you where you may run into some roadblocks? How can I help you build your dream?”
A servant leader doesn’t see anyone as a threat, but as a seed to spread the leadership they have given. They are like a father and a mother that are so proud of their son or daughter when they see that they’re further ahead of them than they were at that age or time.
They have built people to be relational, because relationship is why Jesus came. Jesus discipled men and women in order to multiply His life. Jesus didn’t fear a hostile takeover. He sought hungry people and commissioned them to do His will.
Servant leaders don’t look at or for titles and positions as an achievement or an arrival. They lead to serve and serve to lead. They become examples of a life laid down, and one who loves their neighbor more than themselves.
Look at Yourself
If you’re not on the road to being a healthy servant leader, then it will take longer and the consequences will be greater. You must believe in others and you must take risks, knowing that you will miss it or you will lead others to miss it. Leadership roles are different, so you may have to help someone see their potential, or you may also have to hold someone accountable, which may mean holding them back. This should never be as a punishment, but always as a way of correcting their growth, so they can grow healthy and one day lead well.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself, and be truthful:
“Who do I resemble: a servant leader or a controlling leader?”
“Is it time to become a servant leader and a leader who serves?”
“Can I be honest about my weakness and seek the counsel or training I need to move closer to a true biblical leader?”
“Am I able to have real leaders hold me accountable to become the very best I can be? Can I expose my fears and weaknesses? Do I trust they are in it for the long haul? Will they lead me in healthy growth and being a healthy servant leader?”
Lead well, serve well and love well,