JOHN 13:16-17: “Amen, amen I tell you, a servant isn’t greater than his master, and the one who is sent isn’t greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them!” TLV

OBSERVATION: What is the greatest principle of leadership? Is it having vision? Is it being able to influence others? Is it the ability to organize and implement strategies? So many times we look to the leadership principles of the world when we have the greatest leadership lesson of all times given to us in these verses of Scripture. The greatest principle of leadership is to serve!

The account of this event during the last Passover meal between Jesus and His disciples in John is a paradigm shift for all who are called to lead. The call to serve others is not a call to misunderstand our position as a leader. Rather, it is a call to fully embrace our God given identity and use that as a motivation to serve others. This is what is recorded about Jesus.

  • “Yeshua knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was returning to God. So He gets up from the meal and lays aside His outer garment; and taking a towel, He wrapped it around His waist. Then He pours water into a basin. He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel wrapped around Him.” John‬ ‭13:3-5‬ ‭TLV‬‬

This humble act of service did not flow from a position of weakness, but from a full understanding of Jesus’ position as the Son of God who was, and is, and is to come. Think about this – God Himself was washing the feet of the disciples! And when it came time for Jesus to wash Peter’s feet Peter exclaimed, “You shall never wash my feet!” Peter was rejecting this humble posture of leadership. Peter thought a leader is supposed to be served, not do something that is usually done by the lowest of servants.

I have been a bi-vocational pastor all my life. I have learned the principle of serving both in my role in the church, and in my role in business. In both arenas I have been a leader with responsibility for the welfare of others. And in both arenas I have learned that a good leader must be willing to serve those that he or she leads. Serving is the first and most important principle of leadership.

In 1991 I was involved in leading the restart of a candle manufacturing plant. My company had purchased the plant to manufacture religious candles in glass. I knew nothing about candles, yet I was in charge. I knew that if I was going to lead this restart I needed to learn every aspect of the business. I swept the floors, cleaned the toilets, drove the fork lifts, and straightened the wicks as the candles were coming down the line. There was no job I was not willing to do to learn this operation. And in serving I found that I was truly leading. Many of the original employees still work in this division. Each time I visit our candle plant I am met with warm smiles and hugs. Serving others endeared myself to those I was called to lead.

What would happen in the church if we truly learned to serve one another as Jesus has served us? I believe there would be a revolution of love that the world would see. It would be attractive and contagious. We would not have to attract people with our programs, we would draw people with our love. This is what Jesus has commanded us, and how He closed this teaching time with His disciples.

  • “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭TLV‬‬

Lord, as I think about your last week of life, as I prepare my heart to celebrate Your death and resurrection, may I not forget Your greatest lesson. You loved us so much that You came to serve and to give Your life as a ransom for many. Grant me the grace to love as You loved, to serve as You served, to give as You gave.

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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