Crowns and scepters, thrones and palaces, rulership and riches—these are the words we associate with medieval royalty.

Celebrity and ceremony, elegance and style, popularity and paparazzi—these are the words we associate with modern royalty.

Tattered cloth and shepherd’s staffs, a stable and manger, humility and servanthood—these are words we associate with the newborn king celebrated at Christmastime.

Jesus of Nazareth did not live to be served, but to serve. He gave himself away on behalf of others. His example communicated a simple but profound truth: leadership isn’t about how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.


1) We add value to others when we truly value others.

Leaders who add value to others believe in their people before their people believe in them. They serve others instead of expecting to be served. Jesus’ disciples began following him before they believed he was the Messiah. Why? Because he saw their potential and believed they could be influencers.

2) We add value to others when we make ourselves more valuable to others.

The historical texts documenting the life of Jesus do not give much information about him as a teenager or twentysomething. They do offer this tidbit, though. “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” The whole idea of adding value to other people depends on the idea that you have something of value to add. You can’t give what you don’t possess. Personal growth precedes influence with people.

3) We add value when we know and relate to what others need.

As a leader, it’s dangerous to cater to what people want. You’ll wear yourself out trying to please them. However, it’s important to be aware of their genuine needs—the need be accepted, the need to do meaningful work, the need to feel significant—and to help them meet those needs.

“Then his disciples began arguing about which of them was the greatest. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he brought a little child to his side. Then he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.’”

In the above passage, notice how Jesus discerned the true need underlying the disciples’ silly boasts: the need to have influence and to make an impact. He then instructs them on how to meet the need. Accept those who are overlooked and neglected and be a humble servant. This verse inspired Martin Luther King, Jr. who later summarized its essence: “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”

Thought to Ponder

Giving is the highest level of living. When we spend ourselves on behalf of others we gain the sort of fulfillment that can never be bought with money or satisfied with stuff. As a leader, what are you doing to add value to others? How does serving others enrich your life?

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