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The Challenge: Servant Leadership

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Jesus picked twelve men—twelve ordinary, imperfect, unimpressive men—and bet his life upon them.

They were fearful, envious, forgetful, rash, doubtful, arrogant, self-seeking and slow to understand. They were young and uneducated. They were not wealthy, nor were they from prominent families. They had little to offer. He was not surprised when one betrayed him. He was not surprised when every last one deserted him in his greatest hour of need. He went to his death before a single one understood his purpose, and no one stood by his side.


Jesus knew his disciples’ weaknesses all too well. But he didn’t see their defects as roadblocks to success. Instead, he chose those men to be the ones to complete the work he came to accomplish. He gave them a great responsibility. He handed the management of his investment over to them—let them carry on the message that he gave his life for. But he did not leave them unprepared, unequipped, or uninspired. He clearly communicated that he viewed them as people of value and purpose, and he poured himself fully into loving them and serving them in such a way that eleven of the twelve would end up giving their own lives to serve others and spread his message.

We, too, are called to be servant leaders in everything we do—in the home, in the workplace, at the market. No one explains this calling in the context of the workplace better than Cheryl Bachelder, the CEO of Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen restaurant chain, in her forthcoming book, Dare to Serve (scheduled for release at the end of March but available for pre-order at or Her inspiring book chronicles the story of Popeye’s now famous transformation—it went from being a company on the brink of disaster to one experiencing tremendous growth by every measure including profitability, expansion and customer satisfaction, all because the leaders decided to become intentional servant-leaders. Mrs. Bachelder sets forth a model useful for any business looking to improve its leadership at any level, and the principles found in her book translate seamlessly into every area of life.


The Hope: Dare to Serve

As Mrs. Bachelder chronicles, your ability to serve others well and your success as a leader depends first on how you view the people under your care, and also requires that you make the decision to be "a leader who serves others over self-interest."

The first step Mrs Bachelder champions reminds us of something Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:

“We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17, NLT).

When you being to view others in light of the possibility of transformation, rather than by focusing on their faults, you give them the freedom and encouragement they need to improve.

The deliberate decision to "be a leader who serves others over self-interest", is reflected beautifully in Philippians 2:3-8 (NIV):

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

Did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;


Rather, he made himself nothing

By taking the very nature of a servant,

Being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

He humbled himself

By becoming obedient to death—

Even death on a cross!”

Mrs. Bachelder provides practical guidance on how to inspire and secure "superior performance" from those under your leadership. She describes how she and her leadership team made a conscious decision to adopt six clearly defined principles, which are actually six behaviors that her team found as "essential to serving people well and delivering superior performance." These are "passion, listening, planning, coaching, accountability and humility". The book provides plenty of concrete examples and wonderful stories of how these behaviors were adopted throughout Popeye’s, as well as how you can fold them into your own leadership roles, whether that be as a mom, a CEO, a pastor, a manager, or a student leader.

Mrs. Bachelder's book is an essential manual for everyone who aspires to inspire others to achieve excellence. While you wait for your copy of Dare to Serve to arrive, let each of the following points from her book sink into your head and heart:

• Begin with a conscious and humble decision to serve others well.

• Inspire people to pursue a daring destination, an aspiration greater than self.


• Boost the capability of the people and increases their willingness to take risks.

• Hold people accountable.

• Be appropriately confident.

As you act on the lessons you find in Dare to Serve, your new approach to leadership will transform your workplace, your home and the people under your leadership. Continue the journey, connect with others, share your leadership victories and challenges, and receive ongoing tips from the author at

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