Welcome to The Effective Practices of a Servant Leader.

Welcome to The Effective Practices of a Servant Leader. This lesson is the first part of the Leading Through Others module of the Growing the Servant Heart programme. Growing the Servant Heart is a free on-line leadership development programme for Christian leaders.


In the previous modules of Growing the Servant Heart, that’s The Jesus Model and Leading with Insight, we have explored a leadership style modelled on Jesus and Biblical teaching, which we referred to as Christ-centred servant leadership.

Alongside Christ-centred servant leadership we reflected upon how leadership works in organisational situations.  Then we examined Emotional Intelligence, as a concept that helps leaders to be aware, both of themselves and those that they lead, in order to develop and maintain excellent working relationships. We also looked at the additional impact of national cultures on the way we think and behave and discovered that this significantly affects how we understand Biblical teaching in general as well as our understanding of the leadership needs of others.

All of this was from the perspective that the leader’s role is not one of command and control, and he is not to seek the achievement of his own goals. Rather leadership is about nurturing others, enabling them to achieve their full potential, whilst serving a common end, in the light of God’s higher purpose. In the Christian context, leadership is primarily about helping others to serve God,fulfilling his purposes.

In this lesson, the Effective Practices of a Servant Leader, we look at 7 practices which are hallmarks of servant leadership in a Christian Context. They are practical perspectives that enable a Christ-centred servant leader to guide and grow those whom they lead.

The practices identified are neaither a method of leadership nor are they just rules to follow for success. They are reflective of the servant heart and emerge from studies of best leadership practices in 6 continents, involving over 1.3 million respondents. They reflect the outworking of a leader’s character.  They do not just capture the workings of worldly, national cultures either. They do truly reflect the behaviours of a leader seeking to live out a sacrificial, Christ-like agape-love for those whom they lead. As such they enable the outworking of Kingdom values and the leadership teaching and model of Jesus.

Five of the practices are based on the work of Kouzes and Posner, who observed a huge number of leadership situations around the world. They were seeking the evidence to identify the best-practices of exemplary leaders. Because their work is based on the findings of this huge, long term study, they provide a view that really does work across national cultures.

Their work was then used and extended by Rick Sessoms, who at the time was the Leadership Development Officer at Trans World Radio. Rick identified two additional Christian characteristics of exemplary leadership.

Now, this lesson is about providing practical tools to help the Christian leader function day-to-day. The tools have been selected because they are supportive of the values and objectives of the Christ-centred servant leader.

About The Lesson

At the end of this lesson, as the student, you will  have:

  • considered what attributes are required of a leader
  • compared two key leadership perspectives regarding those who are led.
  • examined seven attributes of the exemplary Christ-centred servant leader and
  • been introduced to coaching concepts and the Situational Leadership model. Both tools to help the servant leader nurture and grow those whom they lead.

For convenience this lesson is split into 11 study topics plus this introduction so it’s easy to refer back to each leadership practice. And you will be able to download the student notes from this link  They are almost a verbatim record of the presentation scripts and are also repeated on the topic pages, so that you can use Google Translate if that is helpful.

Essential Reading

Because the course is substantially based on the work of James Kouzes and Barry Posner you will find  the book Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge to be essential reading.

Leadership is about leading people and this excellent, insightful and challenging book relates the basic principles of people leadership, identified by Kouzes and Posner, to Kingdom service.  Their five practices of an exemplary leader are clearly set out in a Christian context and are accompanied by the reflections of 5 prominent Christians who are in leadership. It’s full of practical, real-life accounts of the leadership of Christians at work. Consequently it grounds leadership practices in reality.


The next part of this Module, entitled Leading Teams with a Servant Heart, is about teams and what it takes to develop and lead them. In it we will look at six characteristics of effective teams from the perspective of servant leadership. This is based on the work of Pat MacMillan, who is a Christian and a very experienced developer of leaders and teams, in both the secular and Christian worlds.

This lesson, on the practices of leaders provides a set of tools that will enable you to live out Christ-centred servant leadership values in day-to-day situations.  And there are plenty of exercises to help you anchor your learning in the realities of your situation.

Please enjoy the module, you can start by selecting a topic from the menu: