Life-Giving Leadership: Seat at the Table or Serve at the Table?
by Karen Hodge, Guest Writer
Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. -Luke 22:26-27
I had spent a long day teaching about how we have the opportunity to image God as we live out our helper design. By the end of the day, I needed someone to help me because I was tired and hungry, which is a bad combination. The event coordinator grabbed my elbow and whisked me over to the table with one open seat. As I reached for a roll, I began to get the idea my words had caused quite a stir with my dinner companions. The conversation quickly turned toward how women could have a seat at the table in terms of church leadership. It was not the first or the last time I have had this table talk.
What I saw that day was a group of women who sincerely loved the church but were sincerely wrong in their understanding of Biblical leadership in the church for men and women. Positional leadership is life-taking as it stifles the gifts and graces of others. Biblical leadership is not positional leadership but rather servant leadership. Leadership is not having a seat at the table, but rather an invitation to serve at the table. Jesus also sat at a table with disciples who were zealous to serve. They were so zealous they began to fight over who was the greatest. Jesus answers their question with a question, “Who is greater?” Then He gives the answer in His person. “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27).
Simon Sinek's popular motivational speaker and TED talk speaker wrote a book called “Leaders Eat Last”. He says, “The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own… Leaders are the ones who are willing to give up something of their own for us, their time, their energy, their money, maybe even the food off their plate. When it matters, leaders choose to eat last.”
The night Jesus had this leadership table talk with His beloved disciples was one of the last meals He would ever eat. He had turned His heart toward the cross. “He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant… he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8) He was willing to give up far more than something off His plate, He is the life-giving leader that gave up His very life. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45)
Father, I repent of desiring position over Your purposes. Create a clean heart within me that aligns my motivations with Yours. Transform my thinking so I might consider others as more important than myself. Place a guard around my mouth when I seek to exalt myself. I yield my hands to serve at Your table. Order my steps that I might move towards those who need help and support today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Hodge serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator for the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America). Her joy is to connect women and churches to one another and to sound resources. She is also having the time of her life serving alongside her husband Chris Hodge, Senior Pastor at Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, IL. She is the mother to two adult children Anna Grace Botka and Haddon. It is from the perspective of a wife, mother, leader, and fellow pilgrim that she hopes to bring the hope of the gospel to the hearts of women. Karen, along with Susan Hunt, authored Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver and Life-giving Leadership.
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