From Adversity to Victory: The Transformative Power of Servant Leadership

Are you leading like Jesus – Who will you follow? How will you lead?

What have you learned through the rough seasons/failures of life?

Life is full of ups and downs. It can be a smooth sailing one moment and tumultuous the next. But as they say, the greatest life lessons are often learned through adversity. The rough seasons of life are the most exceptional teachers and instructors that shape and transform our personal and professional lives. Nicola McFadden is a living testament to this truth.

Between 2011 and 2015, I experienced a series of challenges that would have broken the spirit of many. Family court cases, custody battles, paying spousal support, the death of my biological father, the critical illness of my mother, loss of my family home, injury to my high-profile job, situational depression, and the neglect and abandonment of many friends and family – these were just some of the challenges I faced (McFadden, 2018). Yet, through it all, Christ became her anchor, a source of strength, joy, and peace.

During this transformational journey, God used the painful process of repositioning for a purpose with a renewed mindset, vision, and faith. That season gave birth to an international bestseller book, Rebound Faith: Chayah; the techniques, tools, and tactics inspired spiritual empowerment and life transformation. The painful season gave birth to UpowerUP, with a compelling tagline, “Life Happens; Stay Strong!”

The manifestation of Nicola’s personal branding as a Transformation Consultant was the birth of Nikimac, focusing on empowering people and transforming business, leadership, and lifestyle. Mastermind Café was also born. This executive development social learning private network focuses on whole-person wellness, empowerment, and transformation in organizations using the acronym for café: community, accountability, faith, and education. I also envisioned Chayah Club as a Christ-centered, compassionate, emotionally aware, and supportive community as the ultimate Kingdom Builder Hub. The non-profit arm, UpowerUp, is a Black-centric organization that empowers and transforms the lives of Black people.

Through the rough years of personal and professional experience, I learned to lead like Jesus, according to Blanchard and Hodges (2016). I became a resilient leader, a visionary, a servant-focused, team-oriented, empathetic encourager, and an agent of transformation with a new purpose to help others maximize and perform at their total capacity.

The journey transformed me into a servant leader, modeling the head, heart, hand, and habits of Jesus. Genesis 50: 20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about this present outcome, that many people would be kept alive as they are this day.”

My experiences have empowered, encouraged, equipped, and elevated many lives and souls. I have learned that the rough seasons of life may be painful, but they also give birth to growth and transformation. When life happens, we must stay strong and rely on our faith to guide us through the storms.

What is the difference between a man-centered approach to servant leadership and a God-centered one?

Leadership is a crucial aspect of any organization, and servant leadership has gained popularity in recent years. It’s a leadership approach that focuses on serving others rather than the leader’s own interests. However, not all servant leadership is the same. There is a significant difference between a man-centered approach to servant leadership and a God-centered one.

According to Grimes and Bennett (2017), servant leadership is a leadership process that views leaders as motivated to serve their followers and others. However, it does not explicitly perceive the “motivations to lead within a religious or specifically Christian framework” (p.24). This means that a man-centered approach to servant leadership may focus on serving others but does not have a religious or Christian foundation. It may not consider the importance of bringing glory to God.

On the other hand, a God-centered leadership approach is entirely different. Grimes and Bennett (2017) argued for a narrowed view of leadership that emphasizes bringing glory to God through Christ-like behaviors and a mindset anchored on Matthew 22:37 – “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” A God-centered leadership approach is focused and grounded in Jesus being the ultimate role model with self-accountability and self-reflection. It’s about having a relationship with Jesus through salvation and repentance and honoring the responsibilities of leadership capabilities with Christ’s character, conduct, attributes, and actions.

Blanchard and Hodges (2016) explained that a God-centered leadership approach focuses on Jesus and following His lead. It’s about selflessness and putting others first, just as Jesus did. In contrast, a man-centered leadership approach may be self-centered, power-driven, self-promoted, and self-protected. This approach may not be grounded in a higher purpose or have a faith-based foundation.

In conclusion, the difference between a man-centered approach to servant leadership and a God-centered one is significant. While both approaches focus on serving others, a God-centered approach emphasizes bringing glory to God, following Jesus’ lead, and having a foundation in faith. It’s about selflessness and putting others first, just as Jesus did.

What are some of the challenges of practically practicing servant leadership?

Leadership is not an easy task, and servant leadership comes with its own set of challenges. The practical practice of servant leadership can be daunting, and it requires significant effort to overcome the obstacles that come with it. There are numerous challenges associated with servant leadership, often exacerbated by societal and secular expectations of what a leader should be like.

One of the most significant challenges of servant leadership is the pressure of organizations in a constantly changing environment. Leaders are expected to navigate the complexities of a dynamic market while ensuring their employees are engaged and motivated. This requires leaders to be innovative and adaptable while demonstrating empathy towards their employees.

Another challenge is the low morale of team members and unhealthy organizational cultures. Servant leaders have to find ways to uplift the spirits of their team members and create a healthy organizational culture that promotes growth and development. This requires strong communication skills and a commitment to creating a positive work environment.

Moreover, societal changes to biblical beliefs and the unethical values of leaders can also pose challenges for servant leadership. In such cases, it can be challenging to stay true to the values of servant leadership while also responding to the changing dynamics of society.

Personal issues can also be a challenge for servant leaders. They must find ways to balance their personal lives while managing their leadership responsibilities. This requires a great deal of self-awareness and discipline.

However, these practical challenges of servant leadership can be overcome with Christ-centered leaders who prioritize well-being, love people, and improve local communities, families, individuals’ lives, and corporate responsibilities. Such leaders enhance organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, customer experience, performance, and outcomes (Grimes & Bennett, 2017).

In conclusion, servant leadership is a challenging but rewarding approach to leadership. It requires much effort to overcome the practical challenges, but the benefits are numerous. A Christ-centered leader can provide the guidance and support needed to overcome these challenges and create a positive work environment that benefits everyone involved.

How does a biblical, covenantal perspective inform our understanding of servant leadership?

Leadership is crucial to any organization, and the approach taken can significantly impact the outcome. Servant leadership has gained popularity in recent years, and many leaders are adopting this approach. However, a biblical, covenantal perspective can provide valuable insights into our understanding of servant leadership.

According to White and Kirkpatrick (2020), the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the covenant made by God with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. This covenant’s fulfillment is a critical responsibility for Christ-centered servant leaders. Servant leadership changes to inspire and positively impact the followers to seek eternal life through salvation and personal relationships with Jesus. In this way, servant leadership aligns with the biblical covenant and can be seen as a way of serving God and fulfilling His purpose.

Furthermore, the role of servant leadership is explicitly explained in Matthew 20:27-28 (TPT), which states that leaders should serve others. This is a completely different leadership model, and the greatest honor and authority are reserved for the one with a servant’s heart. Therefore, a Biblical covenantal perspective provides a foundation for servant leadership, emphasizing humility, selflessness, and service to others.

Servant leadership also aligns with the teachings of Jesus, who led by example, washing His disciples’ feet and serving those around Him. Christ-centered servant leaders can learn from this and lead by example, putting the needs of their followers above their own. This approach creates a positive work environment, fosters employee engagement, and enhances organizational effectiveness.

In conclusion, a biblical, covenantal perspective provides valuable insights into our understanding of servant leadership. It aligns with the teachings of Jesus and emphasizes humility, selflessness, and service to others. Christ-centered servant leaders are uniquely positioned to influence their followers to seek eternal life through salvation and personal relationships with Jesus. Ultimately, a servant leadership approach grounded in a biblical, covenantal perspective can positively impact organizations, employees, and communities.


Blanchard, K., Hodges, P., & Hendry, P. (2016). Lead like Jesus Revisited: Lessons for everyone from the greatest leadership role model of all time. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. ISBN: 9780718077259.

Grimes, M., & Bennett III, R. (2017). Christ-centered leadership: God-honoring leadership for committed Christians. Journal of Biblical Integration in Business, 20(1), 24-35

McFadden, N. (2018), Rebound Faith: Chayah, Ontario, CA: Nikimac Solutions Inc.

White, D., & Kirkpatrick, N. (2020). The Role of Biblical Theology in Teaching a Christian Worldview on Business. Christian Business Academy Review, 15.