How I Model Servant Leadership

I’m raising servant leaders, and I have to be a good role model.

The idea of “servant leadership” was first mentioned by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970 in his essay, The Servant as Leader.

Actions speak way louder than words. I can lecture, discuss, cajole, encourage, cheer – or any range of the verbal spectrum…

If my actions don’t align with my words, it means nothing.

My children watch me and how I interact with others. Sometimes they question, and I have to backpeddle. I am flawed and imperfect, after all. We all learn from it, and I pray to do better next time. It takes maturity to admit mistakes – especially to children.

I must model servant leadership for my children to see if I desire them to grow up to be servant leaders. My kids have a better beginning and more opportunities than I had. I have learned along the way, too often making it up as we go. I want my kids to be successful in God’s kingdom and in the world. Servant leadership is the answer.

They must obey Christ first and all else will follow.

Mark Miller encourages leaders to exemplify servant leadership with the acrostic SERVE in The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow.

S – See the Future

E – Engage and Develop Others

R – Reinvent Continuously

V – Value Results and Relationships

E – Embody the Values

How do I SERVE my family?

How do I model servant leadership to my kids?

Modeling Servant Leadership | Jennifer at

See the Future – I have to envision the future I want my children to have. We set goals together and then work backwards in order to set markers in order to achieve those goals. This does not mean I want to live vicariously through my kids. I pray for guidance constantly that I won’t stunt their growth or steer them wrong. I pray for their innate talents and spiritual gifts to be revealed. I pray for opportunities to arise for them to grow in Christ and use their God-given talents to better the world.

Engage and Develop Others – We homeschool, so the kids are with me most of the time. If they didn’t have other authority figures in their lives, they could develop a skewed vision. They would have nothing with which to compare my teaching. Are all these authority figures good? Nope. And that helps them realize what they don’t want to be like. I am so thankful for friends and extracurricular teachers who have exhibited leadership and helped my kids to grow. I am already seeing the fruit of my labors when my kids rise up and go above and beyond their peers.

Reinvent Continuously – Do I have all the answers? NOT AT ALL. I have to constantly reevaluate and reconsider. We have to change our behavior, apologize for mistakes, discuss alternatives. Sometimes a curriculum doesn’t work well. Sometimes, a sports game or music lesson doesn’t go as intended. Sometimes, she realizes she didn’t practice as well as she should have. When I see my kids struggle, I don’t immediately rescue them. I won’t do them service by saving them from the bad. Failure is part of education. They must learn to do hard things.  

Value Results and Relationships – We live in a disposable society. Sometimes, people hurt our feelings. Sometimes, we make mistakes. Many say: just give up. I encourage my children to persevere, especially when the going gets tough. Make amends. Apologize. We are a transient military family and we don’t have time to hold grudges against friends since we may never see them again. We live to serve others. Our attitude matters and needs constant work. We study great leaders in history – the good and the bad and compare/contrast.

Embody the Values – Leadership isn’t always about assertiveness. Our values don’t always make us popular. Sometimes it goes against the grain and is very uncomfortable to maintain in front of others. Of my four children, I have two very quiet ones who would rather let others break in line than speak up and cause conflict. I love my peace makers and I train them differently than I train my louder, bossier girls. Those two already have a gentle spirit and they will be so thankful for that as adults. The rest of us pray for that kind of peace in our hearts and struggle to train our tongues to be kind. My son exhibited our service values when he refused to play an aggressive game. We reward the desired attitudes and behaviors of servant leadership.

Christ is the ultimate servant leader. He showed us by example how to live counter-culturally, and he perfectly exemplifies the SERVE model. We desire to show others His light in our everyday lives.

For more service before self testimonials, read my series 31 Days of Servant Leadership.

About the author


Jennifer is a displaced Southern belle, thanks to the Air Force, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Amidst desperate attempts to balance her various roles as a wife, home educator, and writer…she seeks daily dumptruck loads of God’s grace. Her four little lambs, all of whom possess vastly different personalities, much to her chagrin, make her proud with their razor wit and scathing use of sarcasm. She and the children are quite obsessed with Doctor Who. Along with her husband, Aaron, she passionately educates about natural health. Jennifer shares her heart at her personal blog and her family’s homeschooling journey at Royal Little Lambs.

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