Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The other day I listened to a presentation about leadership. Now since it is my belief that men need to be leaders in their families and communities, I wanted to hear what the speaker would say about a seemingly contradictory title: "Servant-Leader." How could one be a servant, who by definition follows the commands of another and be a leader, one who gives the commands?

As the speaker laid out his points, my mind started down a different path. Now it should be said, this departure wasn't a commentary on the presentation's quality, it was just me. My mind erupts with related possibilities when a speaker sparks my interest. Along this line, I thought how a servant-leader concerns himself with the well-being of the people he leads, resisting the impulse to subordinate everything to his personal agenda.

I began recalling servant-leaders I could relate to. Among them are honor-bound naval captains, who go down with their ships, holding fast to a code of maritime ethics that puts passengers first. I thought of those who seek out the cause of the mishap or calamity when danger strikes, putting the welfare of others over their own personal safety.

I also recalled my dad.

He was a servant-leader for our family. He'd work two jobs, so I could have money for education, sports and hobbies. He'd take long trips with kids in the backseat, so we would experience the country when he would rather be home. He'd set aside his newspaper to answer our homework questions. He'd even listen to our stories and laugh at our jokes, even when they weren't funny.

He would also sit for hours on a hard bleacher just to watch me pitch two innings.

Dad would put our well-being before his and, by so doing, we would follow him wherever he went. He was given the role of leadership by virtue of having children but, in our eyes, he earned it and completely deserved it.

Each man has the potential to be a great servant-leader to those around him: family, friends, co-workers, and from there the circles continue to widen.

On this day following our nation's recognition of one of the world's most influential civil rights leaders, it might be good to remember his words on offering service to others. "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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