Mankind is a moral creation, whether it is recognized individually or not (Fedler, 2006), and that morality is lived out through a series of decisions that establishes an ethical life. Since mankind is moral, and mankind is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), it stands to reason that the essence of an ethical life is founded in the relationship between mankind and his Creator. The basis of this relationship can be summarized in one word: covenant, an agreement, or promise, between two or more people (Fedler, 2006). More specifically, in the relationship between mankind and God, the Creator, the covenant is the avenue with which God chooses to glorify himself to the world by being an advocate for his creation, mankind, through salvation (Barth, 1994, p. 94). It is through covenant that God expresses his love and faithfulness to his people, to advocate for his people, and to remain committed to his people even when his people walk away and falter in their part of the covenant (Wright, 2009).
For a leader, covenant is vital. Whether formally or not, leaders and followers enter into a covenant relationship of an intense personal bond with intrinsically motivated efforts to achieve common objectives that may, or may not, be identified in advance (De Pree, 1989). Such a relationship is built on trust, primarily between the leader and follower, in reflection of the covenant relationship between God and mankind. The trust of followers to leaders is intertwined with the ethical behavior, or lack thereof, of the leaders. This is why the model of Jesus’ servant leadership is so important; the exercise of servant leadership is a significant predictor of trust in covenantal relationship (Sendjaya and Pekerti, 2010, p. 643).
How does being a servant leader reflect God’s covenant with mankind?
Barth, K. (1994). Church Dogmatics. (H. Gollwitzer, Ed.) (1st Authorized English translation under license from T&T Clark edition). Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Depree, M. (2004). Leadership Is an Art (Reprint edition). New York: Crown Business.
Fedler, K. D. (2006). Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Sendjaya, S., & Pekerti, A. (2010). Servant leadership as antecedent of trust in organizations. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31(7), 643–663. http://doi.org/10.1108/01437731011079673
Wright Jr., W. C., Mouw, R. J., & Peterson, E. H. (2009). Relational Leadership: A Biblical Model for Influence and Service (02 edition). Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books.