Serve to Lead
My son posted some pictures on Facebook this week of 400 Troop, Royal Logistic Corps, clearing snow at their barracks. The post said “All hands on deck at 400 Troop this morning to clear heavy snow from the access road to Helles Barracks. All ranks were involved in the effort using shovels and spreading grit manually.” He, a Captain, was working there alongside his troops. One comment quoted the phrase, “Serve to Lead”.
“Serve to Lead” is the motto of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, where British Army officers are trained. John Keegan, writing in the Telegraph, says:
“The Academy’s motto is “Serve to Lead”, a paradox if ever there was one. But this seeming contradiction is precisely at the heart of what makes Sandhurst a very special place. It teaches, above all else, that an officer must lead by the force of his unselfish example; it explicitly emphasises the centrality of leadership rather than man-management.”
This would also be a very suitable motto for ministry.
Our Lord says, “I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:27) Indeed the very term minister derives from the term for a servant. Ministry is not primarily about our status, authority, and importance. We are called to lead, but that leadership gains its acceptance through our service. Those whom we lead hear our actions as much as our words. When we display an arrogance that demands acceptance but does not earn it by service, we show that we are not motivated by the example of Christ or led by his Spirit.