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Don’t Be a Neon Junkie

Don’t Be a Neon Junkie

by Angela McKnight
- Humility, Servant Leader, Servant Leadership, Spotlight

Leading can be exciting.  It can even be glamorous at times.  The spotlight can captivate people in leadership positions.  When I was in college, a classmate negatively referred to some people as “neon junkies.”  What he meant by this designation is that people were seeking the spotlight.  They wanted the attention.  They wanted to have the neon lights shining on them and to have everyone see what they were doing.  

The implication in craving attention is that people want to be praised.  In leadership it is easy to bask in the praise of others.  Now, granted, sometimes the comments people direct to leaders are not positive, but there are usually enough accolades to be found, if that is what someone is seeking.

While Jesus certainly drew attention because of His teachings and miracles, He did not seek to exalt Himself in the spotlight.  Even though He is God incarnate, and therefore deserves the adoration of all creation, His attitude was not one of seeking attention and praise.

In Luke 22:26 Jesus said, “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” In the last part of the next verse, Jesus further clarified His perspective when He said, “I am among you as the one who serves.”  From this passage, we understand that leading like Jesus means leading by serving.

So, what does it look like to lead well as a servant leader?  Let’s look at a few characteristics as demonstrated by Jesus.

  • Jesus did not go around bragging about his accomplishments or credentials.
  • Jesus took on the most menial tasks before asking His followers to do the same.
  • Jesus sacrificed more than anyone else around Him for the sake of the Kingdom.

How do these characteristics of Jesus’ leadership translate to us?

  • We should not draw attention to our own accomplishments, education, or experience.  I’m not saying those things aren’t important.  Hopefully, life experience and educational opportunities have better prepared us for the leadership role in which we find ourselves.  But what I am saying is that we don’t need to boast in our achievements.  
  • We should be willing to take on the undesirable tasks in leadership in order to set an example for those we are leading.  For Jesus, that meant washing dirty feet.  For us, it may mean sweeping floors, changing diapers, or arriving early at a meeting to set up chairs.  It might also include doing tedious tasks that no one ever notices.
  • We must be willing to sacrifice for others.  Not only do we need to model a servant attitude, but we need to be willing to give of our time and resources to serve others.  Sometimes that may mean giving up time for ourselves in order to minister to someone.  Other times it may mean giving out of our own resources to help someone or meet a need.  Sacrifice is not usually convenient.  We may have to get out of our comfort zone.  But remember, Jesus gave everything as He modeled what it means to be a servant leader.

In a nutshell, following Jesus’ example of servant leadership means being humble and putting others ahead of ourselves.  When we are seeking the spotlight (the neon lights), we are probably not serving or leading very well.  So instead of being “neon junkies” and seeking the accolades of others, let’s ask what God wants us to do this week in order to demonstrate the heart of a servant as we lead?

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