Servant Leadership: How To Dress for Success

suit-dress-success1How much time do you spend picking out your clothes? Do focus on coordinating your outfits or do you grab what is quick and comfortable?

What You Wear Matters

Studies have proven that a person’s dress affects how others perceive them, but how do we ensure we are putting on the right pieces of clothing? Believe it or not, the scriptures have some guidance for us on this question.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Colossians 3:12-14

Putting On A Godly Wardrobe

In your journey of servant leadership this is outstanding guidance for what you should be wearing. Adorning yourself with these clothes will build relationships beyond normal and allow you to collectively achieve great things in this world.

  • Compassion – work to go the extra mile to understand what people are dealing with and help them in whatever way you can. A listening ear, a calming voice, or a helping hand all go a long way!
  • Kindness – be present enough in people’s life to see their accomplishments and recognize their great work. Say please and thank you.
  • Humility – have an attitude that you can always learn more from others. Be curious, not pretentious. Be competent not arrogant.
  • Gentleness – place your strength under God’s guidance. Be polite and show self-control not anger and revenge.
  • Patience – have the endurance to persevere through challenges and difficulties. Stay focused on your purpose and God’s will for your life.
  • Forgiveness – be willing to release or dismiss the times you have been wronged. Follow Jesus’ example and forgive as he as forgiven us. Also be quick to apologize and ask for forgiveness when you have done wrong.
  • Love – above all else, love others, as you would like to be loved! As it says in Colossians, this binds it all together in unity.

What articles of servant leadership clothing should you add to your wardrobe?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23


Mark W. Deterding
Mark W. Deterding
MARK Deterding is an author, speaker, consultant, executive coach and the founder of Triune Leadership Services, LLC. His purpose is to work with leaders to help them develop core servant leadership capabilities that allow them to lead at a higher level and enable them to achieve their God-given potential. He has written two books, A Model of Servant Leadership, and Leading Jesus’ Way. With over three decades of experience directing companies and developing leaders, Mark created A Model of Servant Leadership parallel to the principles that Jesus himself illustrated. Working with organizations, leadership teams, and executives one-on-one, he helps bring focus, clarity, and action to make things work. He also conducts training programs to teach faith-based servant leadership principles. His greatest passion is seeing the impact servant leadership has on people’s lives and beyond. Prior to Triune Leadership Services he worked for 35 years in the printing industry holding senior leadership positions at Taylor Corporation, RR Donnelly, and Banta Corporation. He is an accomplished executive with a proven track record for developing purpose-driven; values based teams that drive culture improvement, enhanced employee passion, and improved business results. He is featured in Ken Blanchard’s book “Leading at a Higher Level”, and has been a featured speaker for the Ken Blanchard Companies Executive Forum in both 2007 and 2011. Mark lives in Alexandria, Minnesota with his wife Kim. They have two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and three grandchildren, so far. To find out more about Mark and his work, visit Triune Leadership Services via the Link adjacent his Photo above.

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  1. Depending on the client, a trait can be seen in a negative light. People look for flaws in people, especially in sales people. One’s personality, dress, and traits must be aligned according to the baseline of those you wish to sell too, influence, and collaborate with.

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this Chris! There is no question that clients are always assessing the traits of the people they are working with. I have never found anyone who doesn’t aspire to be around people who are living the values outlined in Colossians 3. Easier said than done, but a person’s influence will significantly expand when they consistently step into compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love.

  2. Mark Deterding, thank you for a most educative and inspiring post and for bringing the basic principles that everyone should use in their daily lives regardless of whether it is at home , leisure or workplace. Apart from being well groomed and appropriately dressed, priority attention should be given to dressing our souls.

    I embrace the wonderful teaching in Colossians 3:12-14 and putting on Putting On the Godly Wardrobe of Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, Patience, Forgiveness and most importantly, Love.

    Love is indeed the priority of all the graces in this list. Love ties all other virtues together and is therefore the most important grace (I Cor 13:13).
    In order to practice ‘love’ , we must acknowledge that perhaps Understanding is more important than Love. One cannot love without understanding. In our daily lives, the willingness to understand is paramount. Love without understanding will wilt like flowers without water.
    It is with understanding and the all embracing aspects of love, that we can overcome all the negatives in life and give a great depth and meaning to the preceding graces on the list.

    “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” Ann Landers

    We need to ask ourselves, “Is love the priority grace of our life?

    Our egos are what seem to get in the way of understanding those who we interact with. Most often it is our need to be right that makes what others think and feel so wrong for us.

    “Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” Alice Walker

    “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Tony Robbins

    • Jonathan, thank you SO much for your extremely additive insights. I absolutely love your point on the importance of Understanding enabling Love to take place. That is awesome! It sets up the priority to be curious and ask great questions, and listen intentionally to gain understanding of situations and people. That will lead to people seeing that you do truly Love them otherwise you would be more focused on yourself than them. Getting into that habit of striving for understanding will definitely dress us for a life of significance in other’s lives.

      I also love your focus on the importance of gratitude, and prayers of thanksgiving! Fantastic!

      Thanks so much for your heart for helping others achieve their God-given potential. You are making a significant difference in this world!



    • Jonathan, as Mark said, you’ve added some excellent substance. I know you and Mark both live out servant leadership values and virtues.

    • Strength and courage are great adds Jane! It certainly takes both strength and courage to be an impactful servant leader. Blessings on your day!