Peter Maiden, interviewed in Evangelicals Now (Dec 2016), speaks from his experience of leading a large mission organisation of the way our security in Christ (or lack of it) has a major impact on our ability to be servant leaders:

I witnessed a small number of Christian leaders, unsure of their identity in Christ, who became insecure leaders. This had a hugely negative impact. They often had younger people coming up alongside them, with great gifts. If they had worked with these younger people, their own leadership would have been enhanced – and a better outcome would have followed. But they couldn’t. Their identity and self-worth were based around their job and their job title. They saw any other potential leaders as a threat and rejected them. Often, I found, this was done subconsciously, but they could demean and undermine the younger leader. This was extremely destructive, especially in a team situation.

Leaders who behave like this are almost entirely unaware of their behaviour. They see themselves as serving leaders. But they are clearly deceived. This can come down to a failure to deal with our sinful nature, which wants glory for me. But the transformed leader’s desire must be for the glory of God alone.

If you have had demanding parents who gave the sense that you were accepted on the basis of your performance, and not simply because you were their child, then this can be transferred to the way you see God. Yet he accepts us entirely on the basis of the work of his Son, not on our own performance. Leaders need to be aware if this is what is driving them – and often they are not.

We have to live on the basis of covenant, rather than performance, and this needs constant reinforcement – not least because the enemy constantly wants to undermine us in this area. That is why we so need the “means of grace” – and why communion is so important for me. To go to a communion service and to be reminded of the fact that I am loved by God to the extent that he gave his own Son to die for me – this is a constant encouragement. And being in constant communion with God, through prayer and his word, is also a constant reminder of the relationship I have with him, and the wonder of adoption into his family.

A slave gets up every morning, thinking what must I do today to please my Master? But a child gets up every day, knowing they are loved by their parents. And because of that love, the child wants to live a life that pleases their parents. They set out to live that life, each day, on the basis of total acceptance. That is the vital difference.


  • Slave or son – chart to help you assess whether you have a slave mindset or a son mindset
  • Abba Father – should we use ‘daddy’ language of God?
  • J I Packer, Knowing God, Chp. 19: Sons of God – epic
  • The search for identity or emotional gold-digging – reminder that even seeking identity in Christ can ironically become a self-focused thing – we really need forget ourselves and just seek Christ himself

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