Servant Leadership

As we are being challenged to read and study the book of John, I wanted to share some of my personal sermon notes with you to help you understand the book. I preached through the entire book over the course of 1 year when I pastored First Baptist Church Del Rio. Enjoy!

Introduction—The definition of leadership today is so varied. We have those that believe if you are in a leadership position, you must exercise your position in an authoritative role. Other leaders lead by never rocking the boat, in other words they lead in a passive role. Then there are those leaders that know what their role is and know how to lead in that very specific role that they have been given. 

There is a balance when it comes to leadership. You must know where the lines are in the mission God has given you. If God has called you to be a leader in the church, then by all means start leading. Don’t wait for someone to give you a title. If you see trash that needs to be picked up, it’s your church too. Pick it up. If you see a mother approaching the church with here hands full and kids tugging at her side, then go help her. If you see others around you setting up tables, unfold a table and serve. True leaders look for opportunities to lead by serving, title or no title.  

Our working definition for leadership for the message today is this: Oswald Sanders claims “true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you.”

Read John 13:1-17

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.


  1. A servant leader understands their calling
  2. Jesus understood His calling. If we are to be Christ like in our leadership calling, then we must have a servant’s heart.
  3. God has given His Son Jesus all things under His power. Jesus knew what He came here for. 
  4. We must know why God has us wherever we are for such a time as this.
  5. Understanding your call takes initiative, intuition, and passion. Serving Christ should be an honor for us.
  6. You may not know exactly what you call is this very minute, but you are called to serve Him. 
  7. I have witnessed many well meaning Christians who sit idly by waiting on God to send them their very own burning bush. There was only one burning bush in the Bible and it was reserved for Moses. 
  8. As you are steadfast in your quest to know Jesus’ call for you, serve Him in whatever capacity until that exact call comes. As you serve Him, He will show you. 

Illustration—When I went to Seminary, I knew God had called me to preach the Gospel as a pastor in a local church wherever that might be. I said I was not going to work with students because I felt as if the pastorate was my calling. Something came over me as I purged through the many youth pastor positions available in the Dallas Ft Worth area, and as I waited for God to clarify my exact calling, I began serving Him as a youth pastor. For the next 10 years, God used me to reach teens for Christ. I was able to witness many teenagers coming to faith in Christ, and then see some go into the ministry. I was asked to perform many of those youth’s weddings as they matured and have grown up, starting families of their own. If I had decided to wait and not serve while God clarified another task for me, I couldn’t imagine missing out on all of those blessings. 

Application—Understanding you calling begins with service to the King, even if it means doing the most menial tasks for Him. Are you ready to be a servant leader? The Kingdom of God needs you.

  • A servant leader leads by example
  • Jesus wanted to leave the greatest example to His disciples. So he took on the smallest, the dirtiest, and the least desirable job that there was. He was going to wash the dirty feet of these 12 men in order to show them what servant leadership looks like.
  • Role models are important for us to see what something looks like. Just talking about praying isn’t praying. Just talking about what needs to be done won’t get the job done. When you talk the talk but won’t do what you say you believe, then it is only talk.
  • I don’t want to hear what a servant looks like, I want to see what one looks like. Talking about serving, and actually serving are two very different things.
  • Matthew 20:28—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Leaders of Jesus are servants of Jesus.
  • So, when you examine your leadership role here at FBC, what service are you providing? 
  • Jesus could have easily called over one of the servants of His day and told them to go and fetch the water so His and all of the disciples feet could have been washed. I am sure that it had happened many times before this day. 
  • This day was reserved for a living example.  

Application—Do you lead by example?

  • A servant leader finishes their task
  • Leaders know how to finish the task at hand. I know a lot of leaders today that are good at starting tasks, but finishing the task is just as important.
  • In spite of the opposition of Peter, Jesus continued with his service to the disciples. 
  • Philippians 1:3-6—I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  • Jesus want you to know that He will carry through whatever He has called you to do. His goal is for you to finish the task, and to finish well.
  • 2 Timothy 4:7—I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
  • A servant leader knows how to finish what God has called them to.

Conclusion—As we examine Jesus serving others, what will you do to make others more important than you? A servant leader understands their calling, they lead others by example.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry


Published by Larry E Floyd

Follower of Jesus the Messiah. Husband, father, grandfather, son, uncle, friend, and pastor

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