Leadership is not servant-hood. They might ideally present similar constructs, but the similarities one finds between servant-hood and leadership arguably becomes more than a paradox, oxymoron, or conundrum. The relationship between these two presents a non-sequitur. Conder this: Did Jesus ever really command any of His disciples to serve other people in order to lead them? In several instances, He stated or implied that no one should serve anyone other than the Father (Matthew 4:10, 6:24). Likewise, the Apostle Paul stated that believers should serve the Lord (Romans 12:12 RSV). Moreover, Jesus arguably did not lay down His leadership, but rather He laid down His lordship, when He took upon Himself the form of a servant. Yes, He washed feet and yes, that was probably an act of leadership, but consider the context. Did He do it to exercise/demonstrate leadership? Was He showing them how to lead or was He leading or discipling them in how to love? At the end of the day, servant leadership serves only as a form of leadership: a tool used to direct others to accomplish a mission or to achieve goals or objectives. Moreover, as theorized in the modern era, servant leadership has often appeared to require that leaders acquire and maintain knowledge of followers' needs. It would seem to demonstrate profound naiveté or the height of arrogance if one advanced a theory that human leaders have or could develop what it takes to discern absolutely between the needs of employees, clientele, and stakeholders.
Love serves as the end all to meet all. The Scriptures place it in the unique, number one position. Additionally, He commanded us to love not just our neighbors, not just our employees and friends, but also to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). How can modern theories of servant leadership reconcile that? When we love people as the end, we place ourselves in a position that compels us to acknowledge their value and the potential power they bring to any group to which they belong. The associated constructs surrounding love extend beyond the boundaries of groups and into their environments. Moreover, leadership is also not agapao, though love may play a role in well-intentioned leadership, especially in the forms of passion and compassion. Ultimately, regardless of the way we define leadership, it appears that as believers, we must employ leadership as merely one of several means to fulfill the Great Commandments. The affect of defining the leadership acts of Jesus or anyone else as the ends, rather than the means, seem fraught with potential peril: "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 16:25, RSV).