Pastoral Letter / October 18 Servant Leadership
One of the most fascinating stories in the Bible is taken from Mark 10:35-45. It is a story about two young men approaching Jesus and saying, “We think we might be entitled to special places in the kingdom. Each of us would like to sit on either side of you in glory.” These two young men had an issue with vanity and ambition. They were seeking positions of self-benefit. Their focus was clearly personal success rather than concern for the “cause”. Our Lord helped them check their motives. He reminded them that there were checks and balances in a healthy community. He also suggested that they needed to consistently concern themselves with the ultimate goal, which is God’s purposes.
Servant leadership is not easy. It means that we are always concerned with the needs of the other person. Servant leadership is considering what might benefit the group as a whole as the higher priority instead of what might benefit only us. It removes the “they and us” and makes the priority “we”. Servant leadership is about humility, grace, kindness and generosity. To be a servant leader means constantly reminding ourselves to be generous with others.
One author says that the best interpretation of the gospel lesson from Mark is that “the higher, better self, answers the call of Jesus Christ to be a disciple by serving others in the world.” It’s my experience that many people think of themselves first. I’m guessing this is quite a natural process. Most of us learn how to consider the needs of others. Someone usually needs to explain the unpleasant situations that surround us in our communities. It’s hard to believe that there is a lack of food, housing, clothing, childcare and indeed, poverty in Kitchener. The truth is there are hundreds, if not thousands of people, who are going without every day. St George’s often responds to those needs and I am grateful to be part of a community that is so generous.
It would be safer for me not to talk about the fact that many of us struggle with ambition, vanity and a sense that we are more important than everyone realizes. But in the context of our faith we have a part to play and a role to fulfill. Although that is important there is a lot to be considered. First we need to consider God’s will in each situation. Secondly we need to consider what benefits the community at large, not just our own preferences or our own sense of privilege. These are hard things to contemplate. There is no simple answer here. But perhaps there are some thoughts and reflections that might be helpful if they were worded in a question format that allowed us to have something to pray about.
- In our church community life together how do we consider others’ feelings, needs and desires when addressing important issues?
- In our family life how do we gather information that gives us the clearest picture possible about the needs, hopes and dreams of our children and/or grandchildren?
- In our neighbourhoods how do we protect our own home but also the needs of the homes around us with consideration to everyone’s safety?
- In the city in which we live how do we select Servant Leaders who will consider the needs of the entire community?
- In our country how do we join the conversation about social justice, poverty, women’s rights and the protection of children so that we can see positive change and healthier relationships?
- At an international level how do we express our thoughts and feelings about global issues, international conflict, poverty and international social justice?
These are just a few of the issues that allow us to focus on others first. It begins in prayer and then it’s time for action. What will that action be for you this week? Let’s talk about it. Let’s have a conversation.