Growing up in the northeast part of England my friends and I would often find ourselves playing soccer on any surface possible. Grass or concrete, flat or uneven—it never mattered. We simply played for the love of the game.
As a child, all I wanted was the glory of scoring the goals that won the game. Back then I would imagine myself having the finishing qualities of one of the greatest English goal scorers of all time, Gary Lineker. I would try my best to replicate his finishing ability combined with his “sixth sense” of positioning. He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
As I grew, I tried to couple these attacking qualities with what I saw introduced by a new legend of the game, Thierry Henry. In August 1999 Arsenal paid Juventus an estimated fee of £11 million for this mercurial French winger. It wasn’t long before he was converted into Arsenal’s main striker and netted 175 goals for the club. It’s hard to suggest that there has there been a greater forward in the Premier League era than this brilliant architect of the modern game. Henry had the ability to glide across the pitch like a gazelle and calmly slot the ball past the goalkeeper. He was coolness personified.
Alas, I never did make it anywhere close to their finishing standards. I came to realize that my own personal strengths on the field lay in the position behind or to the sides of the strikers. Practicing daily to use both feet to supply a pass that would split a defense or create a goal scoring opportunity from a crossing position became “my game.” I started to study different kinds of players—like Glenn Hoddle, who could pass a ball around the corner of a brick wall and still find the intended recipient. I analyzed the terrific David Beckham’s ability to cross the ball from wide areas and land it on a dime. Recently, the great Mesut Özil has captured my attention with his 180 assists in 449 games, and a passing accuracy rate of 86%. This is, simply put, incredible. Midfielders may not get the obvious glory that the striker gets for scoring goals, but without assists there are no goals.
It is much the same in our own personal walk with Jesus. The longer I walk with Him the more I realize that the moments of “glory” don’t belong to me, but to God. The desire to be the leader or the hero is strong in all of us but that desire does not serve us well. Jesus Himself modeled what true leadership should look like. Luke penned these words about Jesus in the opening verse of Acts,
“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.”
I love this about Jesus’ style of leadership. He was never the overlord who dictated to people what to do, but He first set the example by doing, and then He taught us. Jesus could never be accused of seeking His own glory in leadership. He taught us that servant leadership is the best form of leadership. The kind of leadership that requires us to be humble and not self-seeking of personal advancement. The aim has always been to assist others.
Furthermore, servant leadership doesn’t demand recognition. In Matthew 6 Jesus told us not to practice our righteousness in front of others so that you will be noticed. He went on to warn that to do so forfeits our reward from the Father. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, believed that Christians should do all things wholeheartedly, not just those actions that can be seen. He reasoned, “As our Father makes many a flower to bloom unseen in the lonely desert, let us do all that we can do, as under His eye, though no other eye ever take note of it.”
Assisting others may never be noticed by others, but God is watching and keeping an account.
In the Gospel of John, we see one of the greatest examples of being a servant leader when we read that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. As He arose from supper and laid aside His garments, washed their feet and wiped them dry, Jesus taught us how not to seek our own glory but rather how to serve one another in love. In a time and age that tells children and youth that they have to be number one, the Word of God teaches us to assist others. Only then can we become great leaders for the Kingdom of God.
**This was a guest blog post from the OneHope Blog. To see more excellent posts on raising kids to be strong in the Word of God, visit; Experience the Story