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Servants of the Servant: A Biblical Theology of Leadership Paperback – November 14, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Don N. Howell Jr. has taught New Testament in the Seminary and School of Missions of Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina since 1995. Before that, Don and his wife, Melissa, served fifteen years with OMF International in church planting and theological education in Japan. Howell's earlier book, Servants of the Servant: A Biblical Theology of Leadership (Wipf & Stock, 2003) traces the theme of servant leadership through the biblical record. Dr. Howell has taught in many cross-cultural settings, including East Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, China, and Micronesia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (November 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592444229
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592444229
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The purpose of the book, according to the author, is to identify the traits, examples, and characteristics of leadership found in the Bible and then construct a profile of what kind of leadership "effectively promotes the kingdom of God in the world and meets with God's approval" (1). Howell contends that servant leadership is the biblical example of those God chooses for leadership in His kingdom. Leadership is defined as initiative and influence: the leader sees a need and addresses the need based on his or her governing principles. The leader uses influence to compel others to join in the cause and accomplish the objective of meeting the need (1). Whether or not a person's leadership is constructive and healthy depends on the leader's character, motives, and agenda. Howell contends these three things are at the heart of true biblical servant-leadership, and are the characteristics God considers when choosing a leader (2). He defines biblical leadership as "taking the initiative to influence people to grow in holiness and to passionately promote the extension of God's kingdom in the world" (3).
Howell gives a good overview of the Old and New Testament terms for "servant" and "slave," drawing conclusions from how these terms are used and defined. The writers of the Old Testament take a term for oppression, "slave," and use it as a title of honor and dignity: servant of the Lord (10). The New Testament writers follow the same pattern by transforming the terms for "servant" and "slave" from secular understandings associated with humiliation and oppression into terms of great spiritual significance because of the example of Christ.
An important section of Servants of the Servant describes Jesus' teaching on leadership as related to the kingdom of God.
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Format: Paperback
The body of Christ is most fortunate to have such a refreshing focus on the attitudes of a Biblical leader. This is most needed when the ministry of Jesus Christ has been reduced to the business world's pragmatic approach and the re-defining of success. Don Howell, Jr. communicates clearly from a scholar's mind with a warm heart. Most books are either too academic or too warm and fuzzy at the expense of truth. This biographical analysis of eleven leaders in the Old Testament and seven in the New Testament manifests the most comprehensive grasp of subject matter this pastor has ever read, and yet it is expressed in the clearest of terms.
This offering is worthy of the best seminary classroom study and at the same time useful for an inexperienced Sunday School teacher's devotional reading. The beginning chapter might have been better placed at the end of the book so as to not discourage the uninitiated in a well reasoned Hebrew and Greek word study. But that aside, I have never read any book with which my mind agreed more or my heart rejoiced so much. For Christians in the "It IS about ME" generation, a suitable correction is afforded those open to growth and change. For faithful servants who have decreased so that Christ could increase, this is priceless encouragement.
The treatment is so thoroughly Biblical that no honest person can read it and conclude that the substance and essence of the book is just the author's opinion.
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I bought this book for a retreat I was leading for my leadership team (I'm a campus minister) on servant leadership. At first, I was surprised by the academic tone of the book, but I grew to like it.

The author gives some basics and background information and then delves into different Biblical Leaders and their particular styles later in the book, devoting a chapter to each. I think that this is the great gift this book offers: taking individual Biblical leaders in all their imperfection and analyzing each one.

I think that this book is great for leading a retreat, discussion, or workshop, but can also be taken into prayer by those of us in Church leadership.
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Format: Paperback
Title: Servants of the Servant: A Biblical Theology of Leadership by Don Howell, Jr.

Pages: 307

Time spent on the "to read" shelf: 5 years.

Days spent reading it: Read on and off for 5 years.

Why I read it: Dr. Howell was a professor of mine at Columbia International University. I really respected him, and looked forward to reading his book. Parts of this book were assigned in some of the classes that I was taking during seminary and I thought that they were good chapters.

Brief review: Servants of the Servant is a book about Biblical Leadership. In this book, Don Howell develops a biblical theology of leadership by creating leadership profiles of OT and NT leaders. Howell does a good job of taking the biblical text and drawing out practical applications about leadership. These leadership profiles are a core strength of this book. I especially like how each chapter ends with a one-page summary of the key elements of leadership that are developed in a particular character's life. In addition to these profiles, Howell also looks at the life and ministry of Jesus with an extended treatment. While I thought these chapters on Jesus' ministry were well researched and would probably be considered the heart of the book, they did not interest me as much as the leader profiles. Perhaps I liked the simple patterns of the profile chapters over the longer evaluation of Jesus' ministry and teachings.

Overall I thought this book was well done. The chapters are simple enough for a layperson to understand except for the first two chapters, which are word studies in Hebrew and Greek. However, it is clear that this is a work for the academy. There are copious footnotes and details for this to be a solid resource at the college and seminary level.
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