Top 50 Quotes About Servant Leadership

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These are 50 of the best servant leadership quotes I have found in my research, from inspiring names like Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, to John Maxwell and John Wooden.

Whether you’re looking for quotes about servant leadership to spice up your sermon, or simply inspire yourself to become a better servant leader, we hope you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

The quotes are organized into sections by theme:  Servant leadership in the workplace, in the community, and verses from the Bible.  We hope they’ll inspire you and your followers to try out the ideas of servant leadership!

Quotes About Servant Leadership in the Workplace

“Of all the things that sustain a leader over time, love is the most lasting. The best-kept secret of successful leaders is love: staying in love with leading, with the people who do the work, with what their organizations produce, and with those who honor the organization by using its work.”

— James Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

— Winston Churchill

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

— Lao Tzu

“Twenty-first-century leadership relationship dynamics are from the bottom up rather than the top down; from the outside in, rather than the inside out.”

— James M. Strock in Serve to Lead

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. Serve and thou shall be served.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

― Booker Washington

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”

― Woodrow Wilson

“The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”

― Robert K. Greenleaf

“The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.”

― J. Carla Nortcutt

“Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.”

― James Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge

“Serving people means growing their capacity and implies that everyone can contribute.”

― Juana Bordas

“The servant leader believes that ‘my success is your success.'”

― Anonymous

“Your rewards in life will be in direct proportion to the value of your service to others.”

― Brian Tracy in The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success

“A noble leader answers not to the trumpet calls of self promotion, but to the hushed whispers of necessity.”

― Mollie Marti

“Servant leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you; you work for them.”

― Ken Blanchard

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”

― John Ruskin

“Serving others prepares you to lead others.”

― Jim George

“It’s not about trying to find something to help you be a more effective leader. It’s about trying to be a better person. The other will follow.”

― James A. Autry in Practicing Servant Leadership

“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

― John C. Maxwell

Quotes About Servant Leadership in the Community

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world, is and remains immortal.”

— Albert Pine

“The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which one’s capacity to lead is severely limited.”

— Robert Greenleaf

“Servant leadership is easy for people with high self-esteem. Such people have no problem giving credit to others. They have no problem listening to other people for ideas. They have no problem in building other people up.”

— Ken Blanchard

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

“We must be silent before we can listen. We must listen before we can learn. We must learn before we can prepare. We must prepare before we can serve. We must serve before we can lead.”

— William Arthur Ward

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires but in his integrity and in his ability to affect those around him positively.”

― Bob Marley

“In a servant leadership culture we learn by choice or example that if we want to be great, we have to serve others respectfully.”

― Vern Dosch, Wired Differently

“The true heroes of the new millennium will be servant leaders, quietly working out of the spotlight to transform our world.”

― Ann McGee-Cooper

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

― Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I’ll lift you and you’ll lift me and we’ll both ascend together.”

― John Greenleaf Whittier

“The miracle is this–the more we share, the more we have.”

― Leonard Nimoy

“The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people’s lives than you will from the times that you outdid and defeated them.”

― Rabbi Harold Kushner

“A true natural servant automatically responds to any problem by listening first.”

― Robert Greenleaf

“Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”

― Tom Peters

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

― John Wooden

“The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.”

― Mother Teresa.

“Where there is not community, trust, respect, ethical behavior are difficult for the young to learn and for the old to maintain.”

― Robert Greenleaf

“You take people as far as they will go not as far as you would like them to go.”

― Jeanette Rankin

Quotes About Servant Leadership in the Bible

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

― Matthew 20:26-28

“But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”

― Luke 22:26

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

― Acts 20:35 ESV

“And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

― Mark 9:35 ESV

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

― Philippians 2:4 ESV

“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

― John 13:15 ESV

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

― Mark 10:45 ESV

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

― Matthew 25:40 ESV

“And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”

― 1 Kings 12:7 ESV

“The greatest among you shall be your servant.”

― Matthew 23:11 ESV

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”

― 1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV

“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”

― Mark 10:43 ESV


There you have it: our 50 favorite servant leadership quotes. Did we miss any?  Let us know in the comments below 🙂

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