Instructions for Servant Leadership

BY: Dietrich Kirk


Several years ago, I was working with our youth leadership team at our church. The youth leadership team were the youth who were willing to take on a leadership role to minister to others. We had been working with the youth ministry team (adult leaders) to develop a mission statement for our youth ministry.

We developed the acronym WILD as a part of our mission statement: Worshiping, Inviting, Loving, and Discipling.  Thanks to Youth Specialties National Youth Workers’ Convention theme that year, The Wild Kingdom, I even had a cool logo. You have to remember this is in the early 90’s when Survivor was cool. We loved it. WILD Kingdom was a great way to teach who we were trying to be. However, one student who was good at English pointed out that the phrase only told what we do, not who we were. We needed a subject. After much debate the word servant was chosen over the leader, disciple, youth, etc. I couldn’t have been more pleased with their theology.

Our youth ministry became Servants of the WILD Kingdom! Although the mission statement has been revised to fit today’s “cooler” social dynamics, I still love this phrase and was reminded of it this week as I was preparing a sermon on 1 Timothy 4: 6-16.

Good Servant of Christ Jesus

We commonly think of this chapter as “Timothy’s call.”  It is probably better entitled “Timothy’s instructions.” But maybe that is part of what a call is: our personal instructions as a part of God’s great plan. So what does Paul instruct Timothy and us to do?

  1. Be nourished on the words of faith
  2. Train yourself in godliness
  3. Set an example
  4. Give attention to the public reading of scripture and teaching
  5. Do not neglect the gift that is in you

“If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. (vs. 6)”

Leadership Instructions

Back to Servants of the WILD Kingdom, our leadership team debated those words and chose servant for several reasons. A Christian leader follows Christ and leads as he or she follows. A Christian leader servers others. “The son of man came to serve, not to be served.” One of our youth put it this way, “Being a servant means that you are not your own master. As a servant, I give up my life for Christ.”

I find the closing comment in verse 16 very interesting, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. (vs. 16)”

We don’t save ourselves. We are saved by grace. But as a leader who has been through places of despair, depression, pain, and frustration along the journey of faith, I understand Paul’s statement. We “save ourselves” by following these instructions, because are reminded of that which we already know which allows us to live for Christ. If you are in a difficult place on your faith journey, make sure that you are in the scriptures, talking with God, and serving others. Allow these disciplines to be means of grace in your life.

As you live out your instructions, God will use you as an instrument to save others.

How are you living out God’s instructions for your life?


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