In the spirit of He who has served; service leadership and working with others
March 29, 2017
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As we approach the time of year in which we change the leadership of our clubs and organizations, it is right and just to contemplate what it means to be a leader. Throughout our lives and our studies, we have many examples of people who moved and shook their respective peoples. In this article, I hope to convey the idea of what a true leader is, and how we all can strive to be one.
While I am loath to be political after all that we have been through, I would like to point out firstly what a leader is not. I find no greater non-example than our sitting president. Donald Trump is not a leader. Donald Trump is a boss. A boss is the greatest among all others. A boss tells you what to do, and you must do it. A boss is an impersonal center of the universe requiring all others to orbit or be excluded. This is not leadership.
Rather when we talk of true leadership, it is of a higher ideal, that of servant leadership. This type of leadership is the exact opposite of being a boss. A servant leader is first among equals. A servant leader cares for his followers. A servant leader helps his followers to be the best that they can be. The greatest example in ancient times was that of Jesus Christ. As the Gospel of Mark recalls Jesus so eloquently stating, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be servant of all” (10:42-44).
Jesus demonstrates servant leadership throughout his ministry. Ministering to the poor and rejected, washing the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper, and most especially dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sins (as Christians believe) are all acts of great service. These acts were not done for the actor, but rather for the receiver. In this way, we understand what a servant leader is.
But Jesus is a high ideal to strive of for. I would agree that most, if not all of us, cannot come close to the impact he had, much less come close to being who he was. Consider than the words of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech “Drum Major Instinct”. King brings the ideal of servant leadership to a human level, saying that, “You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” It is easier to obtain a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love than to be Son of God. Grace is innate to humanity, a gift from God to us his people.
So too is love in us, as we care for others as they are. We are not listed as sixth best in the nation for community service for smoke and mirrors. We are formed by care for others here at Saint Anselm College, and thus fully enter into service of others. We are capable of servant leadership.
As we go into our elections for next year’s leadership, let us keep the following questions in our hearts, found within the election script of the national honor society of the Boy Scout of America, the Order of the Arrow, the Brotherhood of Cheerful Service. Let these questions be our guide to what leadership is:
Who is a friend to all and a brother/sister to everyone? Who is pleasant and easy to get along with? Are they kind and helpful? Who is cheerful, even when they have many tiresome jobs to do? Who smiles whenever they can? Who obeys promptly and cheerfully? Do they control their temper? Who is always ready to give unselfish and wholehearted service to others? Who, in serving others, can forget their own desires and interests? In all, ask yourselves: Who serves your fellows with such an example of brotherhood and cheerfulness that you look up to them with deep respect and admiration?
If our leaders are the exemplification of these deep questions, then servant leaders they are. And great our accomplishments will be.