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Servant Leadership in the Workplace

Act of service is a term normally connected to labor in a ministry. We easily connect an act of service to a ministry’s purpose when members serve voluntarily in spiritual activity for the organization. In secular workplaces, however, we often fail to apply servant leadership ideals as we labor beside coworkers, respond to supervisors’ requests, or manage the needs of clients. Often we fail to recognize how valuable our work is before the Lord and that He places great importance on our activity in the workplace.

In his 2008 Knowing & Doing article “Work: A Holy Calling,” Professor Jerram Barr explores the importance of engaging in acts of service in the workplace. He identifies two key elements regarding our labor:

  1. God declares service to others in the workplace is important. Barr shares Apostle Paul’s instructions in Colossians 3:23 that we should approach our activity in the workplace with the commitment that we are working for the Lord.
  2. Our work has value because we are offering it to the Lord. Barr suggests that while our job may not be holy, our commitment to offer our labor to God as service has eternal implications.

In 2016, OCU introduced a BA in Human Services designed to integrate the principles of servant leadership into the workplace.  Majors critically explore social advocacy in a Biblical worldview with the outcome of making a difference in their community. They are exposed to the importance of ethical leadership in the workplace, advocacy and public policy that brings about positive change, and how to be effective leaders who serve the needs of employees and clients.

“Career opportunities in human services are expected to grow 11% annually through 2024, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition,” explains William Harle, Jr., Director of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Adult and Graduate Studies. “We are pleased that in the past year 100 OCU students have selected the Human Services major – a fine match of mission and marketplace.”