Christlike Leadership - Mark Appel

There are so many great lessons to be learned through sports. One of the greatest lessons that I have been shown through athletics is what it looks like to be a servant leader. To be a servant leader, you must be first brought to a point of complete humility. The best example of this is in our Savior, Jesus Christ.


“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” —Philippians 2:5-8


The way Jesus lived His life and saw the world was so unconventional, it’s completely opposite of the way the world tells you to live your life. If you continue Philippians, we see that when we take on the servant mentality of Jesus, that is when God will lift us up. When we heed God’s call to be His servants, God will reward us in His presence. When we allow ourselves to be less known, that is when God may be made even more known, not only to others, but to ourselves. There is no greater experience than knowing the presence of Christ.


I’ll never forget what my high school basketball coach told me and my teammates one day on the court. We had just had a hard two-hour practice and we still had our conditioning and line running to do when Coach Powers said to us, “When you are struggling or tired is the best time to pick someone else up.” The reason he said this is because in serving your brother, you actually find you lead them to do the same. Needless to say, we experienced a sense of great community and chemistry on that team because we were always looking out for each other and kept our eyes on our ultimate purpose of winning games.


We see the same power at work in our day-to-day lives. If I am able to consider someone else better than myself—if a coach or teammate is having a bad day and I’m able to show them grace, instead of being offended at their attitude towards me—they may see a glimpse of Christ. There are so many opportunities to have a servant heart in the way that Christ Jesus had. By searching for ways to bless and serve others, we ourselves will be blessed with the opportunity to give a reason for the hope and joy that we have.


“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” —1 Peter 3:15


The amazing community of Christians that God has put around me consistently show this example of Christ-like service. Members in my church family are always looking for ways to bless others by giving their time, energy, and resources to pour into those around them. Most people in our world don’t do that. Living life with these Christians, I have experienced so much love and grace through their intentional love for Christ and for others. Whether they are staying up until midnight, sacrificing sleep, to pray or encourage someone, or serving a meal to someone in need, they are obeying the Lord and serving others in a way that is contagious. This is what the body of Christ is all about. This is what I want to be all about.


—Mark Appel


Mark Appel is a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.


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