The Servant Leadership in Korea

In regard to the uniqueness of the Asian biblical leadership from the Korean sociocultural perspective, “servant leadership” can be considered as the most distinctive feature. The servant leadership must be a core value of Christian leaderships worldwide, but it has a more special meaning in the Korean context. The hierarchical human relationship became a significant trait of Korean culture in that Korean culture during the Chosun dynasty (1392-1910) had been predominantly influenced by Confucian culture. This trait has been deeply embedded in Korean society and culture as a basic element along with shamanism thus far.

However, Christianity in Korea after the first Protestant Korean church had established in the late 19th century showed a new model of human relationship as servant leadership. This is a critical turnover or shift of Korean traditional culture, as well as continues to influence Korean society in general. Namely, traditional Korean vertical relationship among individuals could be changed into a horizontal one and an even serving one due to an influx of Christianity in Korea.

According to the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, servant leadership can be regarded as one of the core biblical values. In particular, it has been an even more profound meaning and value in Korea where the hierarchical Confucian culture still remains in its society as a cultural heritage. For the past 130 years and more, the Korean church has been serving the areas of education, medicine, arts, and the like. The considerable number of charity organizations in Korea was founded and run by a Christian spirit and actively served the marginalized in the society. In conclusion, “servant leadership” has played a distinctive role in Korea as the value of the Asian biblical leadership.

Joseph J. Lee, Ph.D. (Sept. 11. 2018)

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