The Impact of Servant Leadership

The Last Will Be First


Jesus said that, in the kingdom of God, the last will be first and the first will be last. It is a hard concept to grasp, especially in our world today where are encouraged to do everything we can to get ahead. What did Jesus mean? How could we practice it as business leaders? In two videos from the Work Matters FUSE Forum, Brad Respess describes the impact of servant leadership. Brad Respess is President and CEO of Tip Top Poultry, a third generation poultry and food processing company. 



Brad said, “When leaders are doing tasks to become great leaders and make a name for themselves, ultimately, that leadership model fails and business suffers because…it stifles people who work for them. They do not want to give their all to a leader who will not give his all.” 

Describe at time you worked for someone whose only motivation was personal gain. How did that impact your trust and motivation at work? How did it impact business?
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Read the following passages before considering the questions below.  

Mark 10:42-45 (ESV)

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.43But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,44and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.45For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Philippians 2:5-9 (ESV)

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Matthew 20:16 (ESV)

16So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Jesus taught and modeled for the world how to be a great leader in the kingdom of God. It is not counting yourself better than others or using your position to your advantage, but rather humbling yourself as a slave and servant. 

What words or phrases stick out to you from those verses, and why? When are you tempted to think of yourself as better than others, or seek greatness apart from service?
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What might sacrificial service look like in your life and leadership? What might be some of your fears in embracing servant leadership and why?
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Brad said, “When leaders are able to humble themselves, it builds great trust, and team members are able to give freely…longterm, you make better decisions, run everything better because you have a team who trusts you and works harder for you.” 

When have you experienced this kind of trust for a leader, or from people you have led? What was the impact on team culture, productivity, and business?
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We are called to a life of service as followers of Christ. In this video, Brad describes how to be a servant leader when making difficult company or team-wide decisions.



Brad said, “We believe everyone who works for us is an image bearer, the creation of God. We treat them with respect and dignity and care and compassion…the same way we want to be treated.” 

Describe a time when someone treated you with dignity and respect, regardless of what position you held. How did it make you feel? How do you cultivate this kind of culture in your organization?
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Brad said that when he and his leaders make decisions, they always consider how those decisions will affect employees at every level, and they try to minimize the wake. 

Share a decision you made that was in the best interest of your employees, but not yourself. Why was it the right decision? What did you sacrifice? What was the result?
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What values or convictions guide your decision-making? How do you ensure minimal “wake” for your employees and their families? How do they typically respond to your decisions?
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"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45 ESV 

Jesus was the ultimate servant leader. May we follow His example, not seeking recognition or fame, but humbling ourselves lower and lower. Only then will we be great.


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