Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last
Thoughts on Servant-Leadership

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

I’ve recently discovered a fascinating book, ‘Leaders Eat Last’ by Simon Sinek.
The book’s premise comes from the United States Marine tradition, where officers will wait until the enlisted men are served.

Leaders eat last.

I’ve been fascinated with leadership for my entire adult life. It’s a subject that shapes families, organizations, sports teams, and even countries. It’s difficult to define effective leadership. Suffice it to say, that when you see good leadership, you know it.

And authentic leadership is not some boss or head honcho lording it over others. Good leadership is inevitably about servant-leadership.
As in, leaders eat last.
A true leader puts the team ahead of themselves. This results in a connection and commitment where the team will follow that leader anywhere.
It’s servant-leadership.

I recently read a deeply touching passage from ‘The History of Israel’ by Martin Gilbert. The setting is the 1948 Israeli-Arab War. Superior Arab forces were overrunning an Israeli platoon when their leader, Simon Alfasi issued an order, “All privates will retreat while commanders give covering fire for their withdrawal.”
The enlisted men all escaped to safety. Captain Alfasi and his fellow leaders were killed while protecting their comrades.

His order, “All privates will retreat; all commanders will give covering fire” became the watchword for the young Israeli army.

Privates to the rear. Commanders give covering fire. That’s servant leadership in the most profound sense. A willingness to lay down one’s life for the man beside you in the fight.

In its deepest sense, Servant-Leadership is what Jesus lived and taught. Many scholars view Mark 10:45 as his mission statement:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Over and over, Jesus taught about servant-leadership: the first shall be last, love one another as I have loved you, if anyone would follow me . . . .

One of my favorite passages is from Jesus’s words in the Gospel of John, “Greater love love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus lived out his teaching on servant-leadership when he willingly laid down his life as a ransom for our sins.

A true servant-leader is never about getting.
It’s always about giving.
It’s never about looking out for number one.
It’s always about serving those around you.

Giving and serving. Probably two of the finest verbs in the English


How do you recognize this type of servant-leadership?

You’ll know it when you see it.


Curt Iles
Dry Creek, LA
Alexandria, LA