Most Christians likely think the term servant-leader came from the Christian community as a biblical picture of what Paul specified husbands are to be toward their wives. But it didn't. The term came from secular society, http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financialcareers/10/servant-leadership.asp, specifically the corporate world. “The term servant leadership is attributed to an essay written by Robert Greenleaf (1904-1990) in 1970.” Servant-leader is a business model that one third of Fortune 500 companies utilize to help the CEO and a corporation's leaders appear more caring and less dominating. See http://www.amazon.com/dp/1400054737/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=28656304287&hvpos=1o1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=158581367188997095&hvpone=11.37&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_4e9zd27n4i_b So Christians have latched onto the term to help husbands APPEAR more caring and less dominating. The truth is, both the CEO and the husband who claim to be a servant-leader, are wolves in sheep's clothing. Their purpose is to control the organization for their own gain, at the expense of the wife and the employees.
In the Christian community, the term is used to promote the idea that males are humble servants of their wives, even while they lead their wives, make the final decisions and generally take authority over their wives, frequently for the benefit of the husband. This humble-servant idea is promoted and spun to make illegitimate authority look godly and biblical.
Illegitimate authority? Yes. A husband's authority over his wife, according to Jesus, is illegitimate.
What does the Bible say about servant-leadership? Specifically, nothing. Nothing is said about leadership. However, plenty is said about authority and about being a servant.
The words of Jesus speak best on the subject. “25But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Matt 20:25-27 KJV
"25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—“ NIV
Jesus hit the proverbial nail on its proverbial head. These men want to be the PRINCE and exercise authority or dominion over their wives. They want to be the first, the greatest, the CHIEF. They are not interested in being the leader, because a leader must first walk the path others are to follow, a path of service and genuine caring and love. They want to be CHIEF, so they can command their wives to walk a path they themselves never set a foot upon. And the only time they stoop to serve, is when they want to con her into believing they genuinely love and care for her, so she will stoop even lower to provide extra-humiliating service to the CHIEF.
Instead of servant-leader, as they want their wives (and even themselves?) to believe, a more honest term is “CHIEF.” And if they must include the word servant, the term should be in reference to the couple: “Servant-CHIEF.” Indeed, complementarianism teaches wives to be the servants and husbands to be the chiefs. Better yet, “CHIEF-servant,” since authority-husbands believe their will and their way always come first, while their wives are secondary at best.
But Jesus said it is NOT to be this way. When He said those who want to be chief must be the servant or minister, He was not referring to being the most important preacher or teacher. By “minister” He meant to serve the needs of the other. He was NOT referring to the “service” of leading. In His day, He was referring to the service of washing someone's dirty feet. In other words, doing the jobs that are so humbling that no one wants to do them. That could mean cleaning the toilet, wiping the urine-spattered floor around the toilet, cleaning the shower including the grimy oil ring off the tub, washing the dishes including the gross ones, being the passenger instead of the driver, scrubbing the bug, bird, and tar spatters off the car, changing the baby's diaper when poop has leaked everywhere. Being a servant also means watching the movie she wants to watch and giving her the working remote control most of the time while you cook dinner or do other household responsibilities.
Being a servant is setting aside authority, even the authority that is spun to make it appear as “loving servant leadership” and taking responsibility as a servant instead. That is what Jesus commanded. The only way to be a servant-leader is to lead by example—the example of being a servant. The example your spouse is to imitate. Husbands, it is time to imitate the examples of your wives, who have been the genuine SERVANT-leaders.
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See www.wanetadawn.com A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.