Listen with the ear of the heart
In many religious institutes of learning the terms Servant Leadership is mentioned all the time. But those who banter this term around so freely do they know what this term Servant Leadership means, or are they just talking and don’t practice it themselves as leaders. As a leader appointed to an institute remarked:
” Over my dead body”
When asked if the student leadership, prefects could wash the feet of students, a teacher and a ground staff member.
Now a story first.
The dog would bound to fetch a stick, then run back, wag his tail, and wait for the next game. On this particular evening, the teacher invited one of his brightest students to join him – a boy so intelligent that he became troubled by the contradictions in wisdom teaching, you must understand said the teacher “that words are only guideposts. Never let the words or symbols get in the way of truth. Here, I’ll show you. “With that the teacher called his happy dog. “Fetch me the moon,” he said to his dog and pointed to the full moon. “Where is my dog looking?” asked the teacher of the bright pupil. .“He’s looking at your finger. ”“Exactly. Don’t be like my dog. Don’t confuse the pointing finger with the thing that is being pointed at. All our words of wisdom are only guideposts. Every man fights his way through other men’s words to find his own truth.
Leaders who are mindful and embrace mindfulness can move away from self-importance and “relevance” toward a sympathy with and acceptance of the hopeless, alienated, irrelevant parts of both themselves and the people they lead. They will choose to show their own roundedness instead of feigning more wholeness than is theirs to show. Those who lead should always remember that they are not the givers of life. They are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone they care for. When power is constantly abandoned in favour of love then a leader can form intimate relationships which bring others closer and closer to the More and Ever More.
There was a well-known scholar who practiced Zen and befriended a chan master. Thinking that he had made great stride in his cultivation, he wrote a poem and asked his attendant to deliver it to the master who lived across the river. The master opened the letter and read the short poem aloud:
“Unmoved by the eight worldly winds,
Serenely I sit on the purplish gold terrace.”
A smile broke up on the lips of the master. Picking up an ink brush, he scribbled the word “fart” across the letter and asked that it be delivered back to the scholar.
The scholar was upset and went across the river right away to reprimand the master for being rude. The master laughed as he said, “You said you are no longer moved by the eight worldly winds and yet with just one ‘fart’, you ran across the river like a rat!”
Here a few guidelines on this term Servant Leadership.
John Barbuto and Daniel Wheeler came up with a little exercise called ‘Becoming a Servant
Leader: Do you have what it takes?’
So, now it’s time for you to do a little work. I am going to flash up 11 questions. Keep count
of the questions you would answer with a ‘yes’. If you can check more than 7 of these, you
may be well on your way to becoming a servant leader.
1. Do people believe that you are willing to sacrifice your own self-interest for the good
of the group?
2. Do people believe that you want to hear their ideas and will value them?
3. Do people believe that you will understand what is happening in their lives and how
it affects them?
4. Do people come to you when the chips are down or when something traumatic has
happened in their lives?
5. Do others believe that you have a strong awareness for what is going on?
6. Do others follow your requests because they want to as opposed to because they
7. Do others communicate their ideas and vision for the organization when you are
8. Do others have confidence in your ability to anticipate the future and its
9. Do others believe you are preparing the organization to make a positive difference
in the world?
10. Do people believe that you are committed to helping them develop and grow?
11. Do people feel a strong sense of community in the organization that you lead?
Becoming a Servant Leader: Do You Have What It Takes?
John E Barbutu Jr. and Daniel W Wheeler
Again to demonstrate my point another story:
Br Liam was taking an algebra class when he paused, put his chalk down, dusted his palms and moved towards the front row. “Tell me boys,” he said, “after your student life, you will become doctors, engineers, advocates, a teacher like me… businessmen maybe. So, how will all this algebra help you?”
The boys-we were in a senior class-exchanged confused looks until Br Liam broke the silence. “Listen carefully,” he said. “We must first note what is given, next we should locate other formulae that are required, then decide how to use the given factors… If all these are rightly applied, the problem is solved.”
When the members of a community cannot truly know and love their shepherd, shepherding quickly becomes a subtle way of exercising power over others and begins to show authoritarian and dictatorial traits. The servant leader is the leader who is being led to unknown, undesirable, and painful places. The way of the servant leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross.
A leadership in which power is constantly abandoned in favour of love is a true leadership. Powerless and humility in the spiritual life do not refer to people who have no spine and who let everyone else make decisions for them. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with the More and Ever More that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them.
What is good about being “radically” poor? Nothing, except that it offers us the possibility of giving leadership by allowing ourselves to be led.
My last quote on this issue from : Antoine de Saint-Exupéry :
Si tu diffères de moi, mon frère, loin de me léser, tu m’enrichis. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry If you differ from me, my brother, far from hurting me, you enrich me.