I used to think servant leader could, with the right emphasis, be rehabilitated. That’s because I was naive and assumed that the phrase had meant something biblically supportable at the point of its origin. I now believe that was nothing more than a misguided wish on my part, and I am rightfully ashamed I ever argued that anyone ought to try to rehabilitate a thing back into something it never was to begin with. It can’t be done.
Servant leadership is even worse than the almost total emphasis on servant. In contemporary use, leader does not mean the one who commands. For example: In today’s world you can be a leader in the field of sanitation. That doesn’t mean you command another to clean trashcans and toilets. It means you are the one to do it. Above you there is a servant who provides you with janitorial supplies and a list of restrooms–the tools of leadership–in exchange for pay.
I’ve consumed essays, books, podcasts, and sermons on leadership and not one of them said among their hundreds of thousands of words that to be a leader is to make decisions and then deliver commands to subordinates. That is an astonishing contrast to the historic use of leader; so much so that the past must become unrecognizable.