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Hope

Servant Leadership

For a long time, I have been quite enamored by the concept of leadership. From the early days of this blog, the focus was always to define what leadership truly means. Leadership means different things to so many people. For some it is that all powerful person who leads, inspires, guides, mentors to some one who knows all the questions and the answers. Everyone has an unique definition to what a true leader is. At the end of the day just as it is important to believe in something, it is important to believe in a leader or what a true leader actually means. Often most people prefer to be led that to lead. This is truly synonymous with our times with strong leaders in many countries espousing intense nationalistic fervor.

One of the finest concept of leadership that I have come across is that of Servant Leadership. What is Servant Leadership? It is simply a leader that leads by serving. This is one of the path breaking leadership concepts that was first introduced by Jesus. Hours before he was captured and executed, while sitting with his disciples for the last supper, Jesus took it on himself to wash the feet of his disciples. This was a revolutionary gesture by Jesus to his disciples.

The disciples who were convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah who would fight alongside them and secure their freedom from the Roman oppression in a true zealotry Maccabean style were stunned at the gesture of their leader. In fact Peter who was the second-in-command, refused at first for the Lord to wash his feet, because that is not what leaders do. They lead their followers, not serve them.

We can see that Jesus then clearly outlining the expectation that if Peter wants to be a part of his ministry and his leadership, he has to permit him to wash his feet. By doing so, Jesus was ascertaining that his ministry (leadership) was about service and he expects his followers to do the same once he was gone. He clearly explains in the end that by serving, the leader doesn’t become beneath his followers, nor does he lose his stature by doing so. He becomes something different – he becomes a servant leader. A leader who leads by serving.

History is plastered with examples ever since the time of Jesus of leaders who led by service during times of their greatest adversity. Some examples include, Martin Luther King during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Mahatma Gandhi during the Salt Satyagraha etc. These leaders also known for their nonviolent mode of protest were one of the finest examples of servant leadership – they led by serving their causes in a non-violent manner. This had a lasting impact to their movements to this day.

If you have weapons, take them home; if you do not have them, please do not seek to get them. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence. Remember the words of Jesus: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword”. We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you”. This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love. Remember, if I am stopped, this movement will not stop, because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.

Martin Luther King Jr.

There is a fictional character in a TV series that we watch as a family quite regularly called This is Us about a fictional father Jack and his 3 children all of whom who share the same birthday. One of the children, Randall was adopted by Jack after his father left him in a fire station . Jack and his wife Rebecca were expecting triplets, however one ended up being stillborn. This provided them with the impetus to adopt Randall as one of their own. The endearing series is how the children grows in the shadow of their father, who dies in their teenage years. Jack who was devoid of a strong family during the time he grew up, ensured that his children was well taken care of. Throughout the series, we can see Jack imbibe the finest qualities of servant leadership as a husband and father. He was always active, keeping his family front, never afraid of getting his hands dirty, humble to the core, seeing the bigger picture, appreciating the weakness in his children and inspiring them to be the best that they can ever be. Years later we see how this influence of Jack on Randall inspires him to do something remarkable when he saw a failure of leadership in a local councilman. These dialogues are truly reflective.

My dad was a superhero. Man literally saved my life the day I was born. And he always took action. He never sat still. He was a superhero and then he died and we’ve all been scrambling ever since, scrambling to keep him alive however we can, scrambling for new ways to feel close to him. I pride myself on having a piece of my dad in me, always have. But my dad wouldn’t have sat still. And my dad wouldn’t have just made phone calls. If this councilman won’t do his job, then maybe I can. I think I’m gonna run against him, Beth

Randall Pearson, This Is Us

Servant Leaders are inspirational since they do not have a top-to-bottom approach. They believe in being at the bottom, taking their team to the top by being one among them and by serving them. In doing so, they inspire the team – to be something better, and if not great!

Recommended reading from my blog:

unsplash-logoMatteo Vistocco

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