Leadership Research Paper Servant Leadership

Leadership Research Paper: Servant Leadership

Liberty University BUSI 502


This research paper analyzes the findings from the biblical integration project and finds that man can possess the servant leadership traits and still lack what it takes to be a servant leader. Those traits are foresight, stewardship, listening, awareness, empathy, conceptualization, commitment to individuals’ growth, healing, persuasion, and building community. The word of God is what strengthens Christian leaders and allows Him to provide His guidance and wisdom. The literature review provides all-encompassing standards that servant leaders must possess. Leaders must know what it means to be a servant, to love and serve God, to love and serve neighbors, to be open with others, and how to withdraw from people and return. A servant leadership interview was conducted with Mississippi State Representative Gregory Holloway. Representative Holloway shared his view of servant leadership, the application to his district, difficulty applying it as a politician, and attributes that make him a servant leader. The research, servant leader interview, and biblical integration project was are compared and contrasted. At the conclusion of this research, it is understood that servant leadership is ineffective without God’s guidance and wisdom and Jesus’ life as an example.

Leadership Research Paper

The concept of servant leadership has been present since the days of Adam and Eve. God served Adam and Eve while they were in the Garden of Eden. That same servant leadership philosophy was passed on to others including Abraham, Moses, Joseph and John the Baptist. There has not been one born on earth who accomplished the success of servant leadership in the manner that Jesus did. Part one of this paper will cover the major points of the biblical integration and develop the attributes a servant leader must possess. Part two will consist of a servant leadership interview with Mississippi State Representative Gregory Holloway. Part three will compare and contrast the learning outcomes from the research, the servant leadership interview, and biblical integration project.

Part 1 – Biblical Integration Project Review

The literature review reveals that there are several theories and strategies to leadership, however, servant leadership is the ideal approach. Robert Greenleaf identified attributes a person must have to become a servant leader, which are man-centered because God is not involved. A review of the research revealed that connecting those attributes with God-centered servant leadership means that one must serve God, serve neighbors, and practice transparency, solitude, and withdrawal from people. Additional examination of the research attributed to common standards that a servant leader must possess.

Serving God

In order to serve God, individuals must know who they belong to and who they are as individuals. According Blanchard and Hodges (2005) in order to serve God, one must understand who is their primary authority and audience in life. This can be defined by things that motivate the person, whether it is money, status, or opinion of others. Another part of the equation is understanding one’s purpose. For example, one of Jesus’ purposes is outlined in Matthew 4:19 (ESV) which was to make His twelve disciples fishers of men. Once those questions are answered, God can come into the person’s life and direct their paths. Blanchard and Hodges (2003) attest that Jesus lived His life according to God’s will until He died on the cross. Allowing God into one’s life symbolizes that there is a relationship. That relationship must be nurtured by reading God’s word, praying, and spreading the gospel. Jesus revealed in John 14:23 (ESV) that whoever loves Him will keep His word and the Father will love him and will accept them into eternal life. In order to serve God, one must establish a relationship with Him, read and meditate on His word, and allow Him to guide their life. This is how the bible instructs Christians to show their love for God.

Serving Thy Neighbor

Robert Greenleaf suggested that servant leaders should be willing to serve others. In 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV), believers of God are advised to use their gift to serve others as good stewards of the grace of God. Serving others is not limited to church, but is relevant in the workplace as well. Often individuals’ lives can be consumed by status, money, and seeking the praise of others, instead of creating relationships and loving their fellow man. Man-centered leadership is a reason for such disregard for people. Boone and Makhani (2012) share that God leads the heart creating a vision and wisdom of a servant leader. God-centered servant leadership is what allows Christian leaders to follow Jesus’ approach to servant leadership and establish the same attributes He embodied. Duby (2009) indicates that Jesus was a servant to His Father first and then to others He was sent here to save. When a good deed for a neighbor is rooted in love, it serves God’s heart well and the person performing the deed will be blessed by Him. The greatest commandment is to love God with the heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38). Matthew 22:39 (ESV) instructs Christians to love their neighbors as they love themselves. Servant leaders need to understand that loving God first allows Him to show them how to serve and love their neighbor.


Transparency can be related to authenticity or openness. Honesty can also be viewed as transparency because the truth is communicated from one person to another. Russell and Stone (2002) define authenticity as an integral adherence to identifiable morals. Servant leaders must practice openness with their employees. Jesus was authentic all the places He travelled and people usually knew when He was coming to town because people would spread His words and talk about the miracles he performed. He stood before the people, providing His Father’s word while answering all questions. In 2 Timothy 2:24 (ESV) tells the Lord’s servants that they must be kind to everyone, able to teach, while enduring tests of evil against them. Jesus usually knew how people would receive His messages and treat Him before He ever arrived in town. Conversely, He knew it was not about Him, but about God. He shared the word of God with the people and still attempted to save their souls. Duby (2009) believes that ethical dilemmas are difficult to decide when they are not rooted in God’s way. Servant leaders must approach transparency in the same manner Jesus did which was maintaining the ability to stay focused on God’s plan for their life, teach the His people about His word, and love them even though they despise you. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV), God informs Christians that His grace is adequate for them while His power is prepared perfect for their weakness. Honesty as a servant leader is not an option when God is the center of their lives.


Blanchard and Hodges (2003) consider solitude as a silent place to meditate and pray to change the attitudes towards people. Jesus often left the people He was traveling with to have solitude with God. In Matthew 4:11, during His preparation for the tests of leadership and public ministry, He spent forty days alone in the desert. The habit of solitude reinforces the need ot seek God with a quiet heart (“The habits of a servant leader, 2015). Another example of Jesus withdrawing from people was at the conclusion of the miracle feeding, He went into the mountainside by Himself (Matthew 14:23). Servant leaders should take this same approach when faced with challenging situations in the workplace. Often subordinates and co-workers in engage in ungodly conversations that Christian leaders should not hear. The Christian leaders must have the wisdom to withdraw from those conversations and pray that God provide guidance to reach those individuals. In 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (ESV) alert Christians to avoid the very appearance of evil in any form. Someone walking by could easy associate the servant leader with the inappropriate conversation and accuse him or her of being a hypocrite. Withdrawal will allow the leader to avoid the situation and let God provide them with a better time to reengage. Servant leaders must allow guidance from God to avoid falling the same situation they are attempting to save others from.

Common Standards of Leadership Behavior

Spears (1996, 2004) outlined Robert Greenleaf’s leadership model which consisted of serving others, hollistic approach to work, promoting community, and sharing decision-making authority. Greenleaf never associated these principles to Christianity or the life of Jesus. Coulter (2003) believed that the servant leaders should provide the purpose of the vision, share the vision, and develop personal vision statements for leaders. There were other authors that had similar criteria for servant leadership. Based on the research of the authors providing criteria, these are some of the common principles:



Building others up






Developing others

Socially responsible

Part 2 Leadership Interview

The leadership interview section of the paper was conducted with Mississippi State Representative Gregory Holloway Sr. and this is the report. Mississippi State Representative Gregory Holloway Sr. has been elected in to the Mississippi House of Representatives for four consecutive terms dating back to 2000. He currently serve as vice chairman of the Universities and Colleges Committee and is a member of the Agriculture Municipalities, Ethics, Education, Rules and Accountability, Efficiency and Transportation Committees. Prior to being elected to the House of Representatives, Representative Holloway was employed by Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi for twenty years as the Student Affairs Department as the Chairman of the Housing Disciplinary Committee, Staff Senator, Program Coordinator, and Head Homecoming Parade Marshal. He earned a degree in Political Science from the Alcorn State University and a Master’s of Public Policy Administration from Jackson State University. Representative Holloway has been recognized for many leadership awards both locally and nationally. His most proud accomplishments is what he does for his community in which he raise thousands of dollars yearly for local projects, provide academic scholarships, and creating youth sports leagues for local children. Representative Holloway’s was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award in 2014 and is a testament to his dedication to his community. (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015)

Defining Servant Leadership

Representative Holloway provided that servant leader is a person dedicated and committed to serving others in the community. He also believes that such efforts require a sacrifice to promote the good of others. (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015) From his perspective, he believes that personal interactions with the people he serve shows them he is dedicated and committed to their needs and well-being. Although it may require long hours each day and time away from his family, he put the people first. The habit of accountability to relationships for Representative Holloway is not a foreign concept. He practiced it throughout life challenges and day-to-day business by getting out of the office and allow the people he serve to put a face with who is supposed to help with situations that may arise. Representative Holloway concluded by stating that, “he lives by the golden rule” (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015). He is referring to Matthew 7:12 which says treat others as you would like to be treated.

Practicing Servant Leadership

Representative Holloway attest that interpersonal communication is the manner that he practice servant leadership. He prides himself on meeting the people he serve face-to-face. Representative Holloway believes that sending aids on his behalf is not idea and avoids those situations at all cost. He attends school events and speaks at graduation ceremonies and social functions to show his support. Representative Holloway also mentioned that in order to be successful in politics, a person must be honorable and have integrity in order for others to trust them. (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015)

Attributes of a Servant Leader

Representative Holloway’s attributed four practices he personally implements as a servant leader as a politician:

Honor. “People that are trustworthy and dependable to achieve goals or carryout tasks are success in politics.” (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015) The people being served as well as colleagues must trust that one will accomplish the tasks they set. A covenantal perspective means that a leader must act intentionally to honor the person or persons around them, which sometimes includes making sacrifices to do so (Fisher, 2010a).

Serving others. Everything Representative Holloway does is based on faith. Servicing others starts at home with the family, friends, and love ones. This same perspective and attitude should be carried to work and in the community. He view it as a privilege to be elected to serve others because he love to serve his fellow man. “Being elected four terms straight is a testament to the commitment I made to the people of the district I serve.” (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015)

Uplifting the community. This means that when the community is in need of changes in legislature, it is Representative Holloway’s responsibility to bring the issue to the House of Representatives. He generated over “$100,000 in scholarships for future college students attending junior or senior colleges.” (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015) Representative Holloway also “generated millions of dollars over his career for community projects.” (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015)

Interactive. Communication starts with someone talking and someone listening. “When you listen to citizen issues, they feel like trust can be established to find a solution.” (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015) Representative Holloway loves meeting with people face-to-face to solve issues so he makes “house calls” to identify with the citizens personally. “I pass out my cell phone number and citizens are able to reach 24 hours a day, 7 days week.” (G. Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015)

In summary, Representative Holloway’s attributes of a servant leader is honor, serving others, uplifting the community, and interacting with citizens to understand their issues. Representative Holloway conduct himself as a servant leader by doing profound things for the Lord and people through the word of God on a daily basis (Fischer, 2010b).

Part 3 – Comparison and Contrast of Servant Leadership Perspectives

This section will compare and contrast Representative Holloway’s perspective on servant leadership to the literature review. Additionally, there will also be a comparison and contrast between the findings of the literature review and Representative Holloway’s ideas of servant leadership.

Comparison of Representative Holloway’s Perspective to the Literature

Representative Holloway’s ideas of servant leadership is based on four key attributes he developed through his relationship with God and experiences. From his perspective, there are no particular order to the key attributes, however, they all must be accomplished for success. He believes all politicians have or should have those four attributes of servant leadership when serving the public (Representative Holloway, personal communication, May 1, 2015). His believes corresponds closely to Spears (2004) believes about servant leadership that foresight, stewardship, listening, awareness, empathy, conceptualization, commitment to individuals’ growth, healing, persuasion, and building community are all required to practice servant leadership.

Comparison of Ideas to Lessons Learned from the Group Discussions

The lessons learned from the group discussions along with the group project by Kimmes, et al. (2015) was based on the biblical perspective of servant leadership and the foundation and principles of servant leadership. Similar to Dierendonck (2011), they found that the literature was orientated towards a worldview of leadership. Also, the literature did not cite any reference to God, Jesus, or the bible. Patterson (2003) did link servant leadership with the biblical teachings and believes it is a moral form of leadership. The humanistic version of servant leadership has purpose and meaning, but without a true relationship with God it lacks the covenantal and mutual accountability that is required to experience wholly servant leadership (Fischer, 2015a). Duby (2009) also warned Christian leaders to establish biblical standards against Greenleaf’s views which are from a world perspective. Kimmes et al. (2015) also believes that without God included in servant leadership, it just another form of leadership bound to fail.


Servant leadership principles were found to be inadequate without the direction of God being present. Greenleaf’s perspective on servant leadership did not include biblical bases for his findings on the subject. In an effort to research the articles from the reading material, a common set of criteria were created: listening, sympathy, building others up, watchful, persuasive, futuristic, wisdom, selfless, developing others, and social responsibility. Representative Holloway shared his views on servant leadership during an interview, offering four personal attributes he deploys to stay successful as a politician. They are honor, serving others, uplifting community, and be interactive with citizens. The views he shared closely related to majority of the information studied this semester. Moreover, the interview was compared and contrasted with the literature review and the group discussions. The learning outcome is that servant leadership is ineffective without the guidance of God. Blanchard and Hodges (2005) tells Christian leaders that becoming a servant leader like Jesus is a transformational process and requires internalization of the principles of leadership (p. 19). Gerdes (n.d.) believes that the love for God should be included in a servant leaders’ daily routine. The love of God, a relationship with Him, and through Jesus will allow a servant leader to be successful.


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