Trinitarian Servant Leadership

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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If you keep up with what is happening in the business world, “faith in the workplace” is becoming a significant topic in our day. Our reflex reaction when we talk about the workplace is not usually about “faith.” We think about “toil” in the workplace, or “stress.” We think about the bottom line, about paychecks, and about profits in the workplace. We think about exhaustion, monotony, and boredom in the workplace. We think of competitions, rivalries, and jealousy in the workplace. We think of struggles in the workplace.

But recent bold experiments in opening the window of faith into the workplace have opened up a whole new range of options and potential. Now we’re talking about enjoyment in the workplace, about meaning and a sense of fulfillment in the workplace. We’re talking about caring and servant leadership and teamwork and mutual support in the workplace . . . about motivation and productivity and excitement and excellence and unity and peace. The very things that make work a high calling.

An organization will not become healthy, in terms of human relationships, without leadership that puts a priority on human relationships. The source of all relational leadership comes from a relational God. Out of this principle arises the concept of Trinitarian Servant Leadership (TSL), which I hold is the maximum path to executive effectiveness in changing the culture of a corporation or institution. That style of leadership requires flexibility; and the healthiest flexibility comes from this divine source.

What is Trinitarian Servant Leadership? Picture an equilateral triangle. One side is the Son, or submission, or servant. There is the Son, Jesus, the Son of God, submission and servant, that’s the side representing the cross. Another side is the Father authority, leadership, resurrection. The final side is the Holy Spirit, unity, creativity, and flexibility. It is all about the flexibility we need to relate most creatively to each other, in unity. Now the whole of life is this flexibility of servant leadership appropriate in each situation. This is the life in every believer. This is the God life that is in every believer when we are allowing Christ’s life to live through us.

The concept of servant leadership, which is a biblical concept, has two perils. One is that the servanthood of the leader renders him passive and impotent. As organizations become more truly democratic, the danger is that leadership gets lost or forgotten. A good example is that of the early Greeks, who founded democracy. It ultimately failed because in a totally egalitarian society, they did not allow for leadership. There was no one to provide an over-arching vision and direction. All went their separate ways, and the result was chaos, not freedom.

On the other hand, leadership can become authoritarian, insensitive, and tyrannical. The challenge is to find the balance between strong leadership and servant leadership. No one leads until someone serves.

TSL provides a model for merging three disciplines that I believe are vital in today’s business world: relational theology, behavioral science, and management strategies.