12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
I love these texts, and I quote them often. I think one of the reasons why I like them so much is that they are showing a characteristic of servant leadership that cannot be ignored.
Yes, flexibility is one of the most important characteristics that leaders, especially servant leaders can display. The truth is, things won’t always go the way they are planned. There are times when servant leaders are struck with a person, a situation, or a structure that they had not expected to encounter, and as such, they are going to have to find a way to work around, go over, plow through, or dig under such obstacles.
Flexible leaders are pretty socially perceptive and they often self-monitor. As servant leaders, we go where the people need us to go, and flex in a way that allows us to be able to meet the needs of those we serve with alacrity and expedience. By seeing what is happening around us and by having a good sense of where we are, we can make the changes necessary to fulfill the needs of those we serve.
Servant leaders need to be flexible in the way that they think about things. While traditions are important, flexible servant leaders have to find new ways, innovations, and even novel approaches to problems that arise. The truth is that the way we lead today might not be the way that we need to lead tomorrow, as the world is constantly changing and morphing with new technology and opportunities.
Covid was a good example of this. In order to serve our congregations, we had to change our approach to church, to worship, and even to fellowship. It was such a strange time, but the churches’ whose leaders were flexible enough to change their approach made it through, and sometimes made it through thriving!
Without understanding the need for flexibility, our servant leadership becomes as stiff as dry crackers and eventually breaks. It ceases to be able to adapt to the needs of those around and is stuck within its circumstances. Paul made it clear in this text that it is not about what situation you find yourself in, rather, it is about how you deal with what has been given. And through our understanding of Christ and his love for us, we should be able to get through anything.
- Name a time when you needed to be flexible in your leadership.
- Is flexibility one of your strong suits?
- How can you get more used to being flexible?
- What does it mean to you to be flexible in your servant leadership role?
The word flex and the word bend comes to my mind. People wanna bend our ears for some reason I guess they like to be heard it’s quite a compliment for someone to listen carefully. My wife likes to bend my ear a lot at times. I’m not as pliable or receptive at times but the most powerful times in our relationship is when I listen carefully, so I can be flexible to walk with her side-by-side in our unity of heart. It’s strange that I’m now discovering that she has wisdom and a different perspective that is helpful. We were trying to decide where to put our new metal shed and she is quite helpful but I had to change my whole entire plan to be able to do that. It was so much better outcome than if I had done it by myself. In a multitude of counselors there’s safety. I’m glad I wasn’t such a pig head that I wasn’t able to listen.
Flexibility is essential for functional leadership but the Curse of Knowledge can make it difficult at times.