The One Thing You Need to be a Better Leader

A few months ago I traveled back home to Australia for a short break and stopped over in Los Angeles briefly to see a mate of mine. We stopped by Muscle Beach in Venice, CA and noticed some of the big bodybuilders helping the smaller ones complete their sets. I became aware that these guys were more concerned about helping unfit fellas with their gym goals than getting their pump on to impress the ladies around them. We saw them each as a modern day steward.


“Something is changing significantly in society,” my old seminary mate turned to me and said. “Men are rising up and embracing their calling, vocation, or mantle to be the leaders in their communities. This is just a small example of men leading.”

I was amazed at his brief yet understated phrasing, so I pushed him further. I asked him, “How else are you seeing this in the world? Can you give me examples?”

His response was nothing profound, but it still gripped me. He noticed that more and more men led as servants. In their roles as fathers in the home, men are rising up to serve the family sacrificially and lead financially. In workplaces, men are rising up to train and mentor younger guys around them. In society, men are taking on roles to serve their fellow man from other backgrounds and encourage them in all spheres of life.

You may think this idea of service is nothing new under the sun. As men we all know what serving means. But what if our idea was tainted with thinking. “What can I get out of it?” What if our belief of service came from ambitions that strayed from its inherent meaning?

When I briefly did a stint in the military the idea of true service was engrained into us. The code of conduct and the values that we bore echoed the sentiment to serve our brother and sister next to us wearing the same uniform. If we served with them and for them, then we also served our country. My specific role was as an officer’s steward. We looked after the officers within the Royal Australian Navy. We all learned a great deal about caring for everyone from the lowest to the greatest in rank.

The origins of the steward go back to medieval times. They oversaw the lord’s estate and daily routine. This entailed everything from hospitality to cleaning and polishing his swords, to literally being his training buddy for battle. The steward put the needs of those he served above his own.

This idea of service is challenging. If we as men want to lead, we must first live in our calling to serve. I see this practically in many of my close mates as they step up to the challenge to lead in their communities. It is only when we lay ourselves down for others, that we can lead as great men with integrity.

What areas in life are we called to steward?

As fathers of children

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-5a ESV)

As husbands

“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:17-19 ESV)

As friends

As a friend that others can see genuine love and respect from…
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 ESV)

As coworkers and students

As people that serve our work well, and enjoying it’s fruit…
“I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil–this is God’s gift to man.” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-3 ESV)

As brothers to others

As faithful servants of those in our churches…
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10 ESV)

To this day I can see these elements of service in so many men who are naturally gifted leaders. When men learn the value of servanthood with humility, they were able to take responsibility in greater areas. What areas are being challenged or changed in your life today?

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