Evangelical Servant-Leadership is Contrary to Biblical Male Headship
It has been about 3 or 4 years now that I was exposed to the term “servant-leadership,” It was put in the context that men are to be like Christ in laying down His life for the Church. That man would need to “lay down their life for their wives .”And while I agree that if an intruder was entering my house to cause harm, my husband would indeed lay down his life for me, I know this. And I am sure most wives would be sure of the same. (except maybe for John Piper. Another blog post for that one)
But that is not the context that these women were using. “Lay down their lives for their wives .”They were using it in the context that a husband should do whatever his wife needs to be happy. He is supposed to sacrifice “everything” for his wife, even his leadership. That male headship was archaic and needed to be smashed, “the patriarchy .”That a real man empathized with his wife, sacrificed his health, wealth, and manhood to accommodate his wife. What if that wife was not happy or lacking? That was the failure of her “servant-leader.”
No, this was new to me, I will be honest. I was never one to read the books of the “church leaders” or go to adult Sunday school, for that matter. (too much opinion and not enough doctrine) So I was utterly ignorant of this concept and where it came from.
I did not see this model in scripture anywhere. Yes, I did know the scripture of Christ removing his cloak and washing His disciple’s feet. And Christ’s words that he came to serve and not be served, that we are to put others first. I was well aware of these doctrines. Beautiful and humbling. His people are to be humble and serve as He did. But I didn’t understand how they got their twisted context from scripture, and I found out they didn’t get it from scripture.
After just a bit of digging, it became apparent that “servant-leader” was not at all a Christian doctrine, first but a business model “theory” That’s right. A man named Robert K Greenleaf wrote an essay in 1970. You can find that here, http://www.ediguys.net/Robert_K_Greenleaf_The_Servant_as_Leader.pdf This is a quote from that essay “I am mindful of the long road ahead before these trends, which I see so clearly, become a significant society-shaping force. We are not there yet. But I see encouraging movement on the horizon.
What direction will the movement take? Much depends on whether those who stir the ferment will come to grips with the age-old problem of how to live in a human society. I say this because so many, having made their awesome decision for autonomy and independence from tradition, and having taken their firm stand against injustice and hypocrisy, find it hard to convert themselves into affirmative builders of a better society. How many of them will seek their personal fulfillment by making the hard choices, and by undertaking the rigorous preparation that building a better society requires? It all depends on what kind of leaders emerge and how they — we — respond to them ~Robert K Greenleaf
Now, does that sound like a Christian doctrine? At all? No, it does not. It is a theory that does not look to God for the answers on leadership or anything. But looks to the man. It is a “movement” just as “critical race theory” is a movement. And in “movement,” I mean that it deems to “move” society in a different direction. To move people away from God and His Created order.
As I dug deeper on the origins of the “doctrine” of “servant-leader,” I found that the Church grabbed onto this “theory” and forced it into scripture. I mean by forced, is that while we know as Christians, we are to put others first and serve our neighbors, we also know that Christ leads His Church, and He is not a ‘servant-leader’ sitting at the right hand of God. Instead, Christ is the leader of His Church.
I had difficulty putting my head around this when I first heard it; in the feminist context, I heard it. I knew, firstly, it had to be heretical because of the source it was coming from. These were self-described “Christian feminists”, haters of God’s Created Order.
Why do working wives seem to have no objections to submitting to a boss, recognizing that their boss has a real authority over them as it pertains to the job? But those same women often chafe at having to submit to a husband, and rebel against acknowledging that he has a real authority over them in the home. These women do not expect their bosses to be their servant-leaders in the same way they expect servant-leadership to work in their marriages; they would never negate their boss’s authority the way they do their husband’s, they would never redefine and qualify rule in the workplace the way they do at home. The office of husband been uniquely disparaged and undermined in our feminized culture, even in the evangelical subculture.
I really like this quote by Rich Lusk, and I did post his article on this subject on my blog. But, I disagree with him that ‘servant-leadership’ is a Christian doctrine. You cannot be a servant and lead at the same time.
Let me give an example. We have a congregation helping a couple move from their current home to a new home. If the people serving the couple moving did not get leadership, there would be chaos. If the couple moving did not lead in the move, you would have those serving making decisions without the couple’s approval. In doing so, they are not genuinely helping the couple; their service turned to leading. This happens in Christian marriages where ‘servant-leadership’ has been adopted as Christian doctrine. Wives feel entitled to get their way, and husbands feel they are loving their wives, if they give them their own way. And much of the time, the wives are leading, while the husband gives the impression that he is leading. It is a doctrine that I believe was groomed by feminism and humanism at the root.
Now, remember, marriage is a picture of Christ and His Church. In scripture, do we ever see Christ giving His Church her own way, appeasing the Church? Do we see Christ submitting to the Church? Or sharing His Headship with the Church? No, we do not. As the Church defines today, servant-leader is a distortion of male headship. And at the same time, it attempts to dethrone Christ and give the Church authority over Christ. Blasphemous.
Christ is the Head of the Church. Man is the Head of Woman. 1 Cor. 11:13 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Male headship is the Patriarchy that the feminists say, must be smashed. In the attempt to crush the Patriarchy, they must dethrone God, Christ, and the Mans designated, God ordained role in society, Church, and family.
Male headship vs. servant-leader should be easily discerned as arouse. Firstly, the servant-leader is an actual oxymoron. Servant means to follow, serve, submit, give over. And leader means to lead, give orders, be the top man.
Secondly, Male-headship is God’s ordained order. Man cannot give over to his wife what God has commanded to be theirs. Their authority was given by God. It is not transferrable to their wives.
As wives, we can be tempted to be drawn to a ‘servant-leadership’ model that feeds our sinfulness in wanting our husbands to act and treat us in a way we think we deserve. And we know at the same time, there is so much pride involved in that way of thinking, don’t we?
Leadership is needed. Male headship is commanded and ordained by God. Male leadership in a marriage is God-ordained. Christ is leading HIs Church. Christ leads HIs Church, equipping them through HIs Word, to be holy and obedient.
In striving to be a godly wife, we should be first, disciples at the foot of our Christ. And who has God, Christ put on this earth for us to be led by? Our husbands..
We are to form a biblical doctrine, not by the precepts of men. Now, I am not saying that learning from men is not profitable. It is. And we should. We sit under our pastors and our husbands to learn.We read books written by men. But we are Bereans. What I do mean is that if a man’s doctrine is presented and does not reflect scripture, that is not God’s doctrine, but man’s. It should not be accepted, but rejected.
This podcast concerning “leader-ship” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/its-good-to-be-a-man/id1456285158?i=1000538284815
This is a University Paper on the origin of servant-leadership in relation to Christian theory
Publication on Servant-Leadership Theory
Origninal artilce by Rich Lusk