Study Guide, Servant Leadership

Study Guide

Servant Leadership

Newbreak’s Sermon Study Guide is an in-house resource that serves sermon-based Life Groups and/or individuals who want to reflect further on how the message contributes to their spiritual formation.

About This Sermon Series

Year after year one of the most searched-for questions on Google is “Who is Jesus?” Whether we know it or not all of our deepest longings point us to the person who lived 2,000 years ago in Israel. The Gospel of John invites us to “come and see” who this Jesus is and how he is the one in whom we find life.

About this week's sermon:

What makes someone great? Maybe we think of someone who has amassed wealth; or the recent Heisman trophy winner; or the actress with multiple Emmy nominations. But what if those great achievements don’t make someone truly great in the eyes of Jesus? Lean in as we look at the example of Christ himself, as he shows us what true greatness and servant leadership looks like.

Icebreakers for Life Groups

  1. Can you name someone who had a positive impact on your life? What about them left such a big impact?
  2. What role does “humility” play in the life of a leader?

Let’s read John 13:1-17 (CSB)

Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 Now when it was time for supper, the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray him. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into his hands, that he had come from God, and that he was going back to God. 4 So he got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself. 5 Next, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who asked him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t realize now, but afterward you will understand.”
8 “You will never wash my feet,” Peter said.
Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”
10 “One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For he knew who would betray him. This is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.
16 “Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Point 1 – The love of Jesus is unconditional and unending.

One of the absolute best parts of following and serving Jesus is that He never calls us to do anything that He didn’t do first. He is not a god who tells us what to do, but does the opposite Himself. He leads by example, so that we will follow that example and love as He loves. We get a glimpse of the true nature of Jesus’ love for us here when He washes His disciples’ feet.

Jesus had just ridden into town on the colt of a donkey and been praised as one who comes in the name of the Lord, as one who saves. This was in large part due to Him raising Lazarus from the dead. The God who just did all that is now draped in a towel and kneeling before His disciples to wash their feet. He is even going to wash Judas’ feet, even though He knows Judas is about to go and betray Him. Jesus can do this because of who He is, not because of who we are or what we have done.

Jesus loves us, wills our good, because He loves unconditionally and without end. He wants us to love others unconditionally, not because of who they are, or what they have done for us, or to us, but because of who we are in Him. Verses 34-35 tell us that when we love this way people will know that we are His disciples. We have no idea how long God is going to give us on this earth. We don’t know how long we have to show the love of God to others. What we do know is that we have today, and we have each day that God gives us. We can spend those days trying to get what we want, what will make us feel good. Or we can spend those days loving others, so that people know that we are His disciples. He lets us choose.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  1. Has a person ever shown you unconditional love, love that you didn’t deserve? What effect did this have on you at the time? Now? Have you ever shown someone unconditional love? Why?
  2. Do you consider love a verb that you have control over to give, or not? Or has love been a feeling that you are subject to, you show love when you feel love? Which kind of love do you prefer others have with you?
  3. What do you hope people say of you when you’re gone? What do you hope God says to you when you meet Him face to face? What’s one step you can take this week to get closer to those goals?

Point 2 – The posture of Jesus is lowly and humble.

There is no point in history where washing feet was a glamorous job. It was dirty and dusty and just as unpleasant then as it would be now. Probably more so back then because people wore sandals and most of the roads were dirt and because animals also used all of the roads. We can easily imagine the condition of the feet of these twelve men who had been walking all over town. But here we see Jesus lowering Himself before His friends, before His followers, and tenderly cleaning them up.

This is a picture that parents can relate to. We kneel before our kids, getting to eye level or below when we really want to get their attention, when we want them to see that we see them and are here for them. We want them to know that they have our full attention. Here in San Diego my kids spent a lot of time barefoot and when we needed to go somewhere I would wash their feet. Jesus knelt down in front of the disciples because He wanted their full, undivided attention. He washed His disciples’ feet because He was preparing them to go where He would tell them to go and to do the work He had prepared in advance for them to do.

He positioned Himself lowly and humble to set the example for them, and for us, in how we are to show His love to others. This could in no way take away His majesty or His deity. Jesus did not care about impressing others. He only cared about doing the will of His Father who sent Him (John 6:38). Jesus wants us to come to Him and let Him make us clean so that we are ready to do the work He has for us. Our dirt is not too dirty for Him. He is not put off by our uncleanness.

We can’t surprise Him by how bad we have let things get. He just wants us to be willing to come to Him and let Him make us clean.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  1. Are there areas in your life that you think are too dirty to let Jesus clean out? What’s holding you back from inviting Him into those spaces?
  2. Peter wanted to remind Jesus that Jesus was too important to wash feet. But when Jesus said He needed to wash Peter’s feet or Peter would have no part with Him (vs. 8), Peter then asks Jesus to wash his head and hands as well. Are you a person of extremes? Do you find you are all in with God one day and not talking to Him at all the next? What would help you keep Jesus at the forefront of your life daily?
  3. How do you sense the Lord cleansing and consecrating you during this season?

Point 3 - Christ-centered leaders are not focused on being in power but looking to empower.

Do you believe you are a leader? You may be a college student, a mom, a retired person living alone, or a leader of a battalion of men. No matter your age, or station, you are a leader. You lead yourself first and you lead others around you just by your example. People are watching. Now more than ever before people are watching us, especially if we say we are Christ-followers. Everyday we have the privilege of leading by Christ’s example.

Newbreak’s Vision Statement: Developing Christ-centered leaders who change their world.

Christ came to earth when there was no radio, TV, internet or AI and by the way He chose to live His life, He radically changed history forever. He gave us examples of what it looks like to love with our whole selves and what it looks like to forgive completely. He showed us what it looks like to care for the widow and the orphan and what it looks like to do God’s will. He did this in order to empower us to live this way in front of others and to draw other people to Himself.

Jesus was God in the flesh, but chose to live in a servant-leader way to show us that we will be more effective for His kingdom when we live this way. Jesus says that He is love. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is not proud, it is not self-seeking, it keeps no record of wrongs. This is how Jesus lived. It’s how he led. And this is how He wants us to lead others to come to know Him.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  1. As a Christ-centered leader, who do you want to empower? Can you do this without living a life following Christ’s examples? Why, or why not?
  2. When you serve, is it something that you do out of a grateful heart for all that God has done for you, or are you serving to try and curry favor with God? How can we get to a point where we take delight in serving God?
  3. Where can you serve right now? Are there any areas that need help at your campus that you can step in and volunteer? What is keeping you from jumping in to serve?

About Our Current Sermon Series

Year after year one of the most searched-for questions on Google is “Who is Jesus?” Whether we know it or not all of our deepest longings point us to the person who lived 2,000 years ago in Israel. The Gospel of John invites us to “come and see” who this Jesus is and how he is the one in whom we find life.