Confession: Although I have been able to recite to you the correct Sunday school definition of servant-leadership ever since my 7th grade ELCA church youth leader, Amy, drilled it into our heads, I think, to my shame, I am just now coming to understand it.
I am coming to understand that, in my soul, I’ve always emphasized the leader aspect of servant-leader — though I would have told you that as a servant-leader my job is to lay down my life for the sake of others, somehow I had this positioned in my heart in a way that allowed me to understand the role in terms of power, authority, and control; rather than humble foot-washing, floor-sweeping, toilet-cleaning, request-fulfilling, need-meeting, self-sacrificing love.
Does that make any sense whatsoever?
This realization came through a recent bout with back pain that had me unable to work (i.e., sit at a desk and type…) all week. The back pain had come about as a culmination of being out of shape, lacking core strength, not paying attention to posture and health. Eventually this reached a breaking point resulting in immobility.
I’ve told a few people (and now you) that I must now get serious about my health, posture, core strength, etc. Because neglecting it is not fair to those that I serve.
As I said this, I had an epiphany. I have not seen myself as a servant. I am a pastor (authority), business owner (authority), husband (authority), and father (authority). And all these positioned in a way that made myself central, rather than incidental.
The truth is that I am a servant. I exist to help. I exist to lay down my life, preferences, time, energy, and choices for the sake of my wife, children, co-pastors, congregants, employees, and clients. All these are in a position that requires me to faithfully steward the necessary resources (time, energy, health, finances) to ensure they are well cared for. Anything less than this is mis/mal/non-feasance of duty.
And frankly, in some of these arenas, I am lagging in terms of faithfulness right now.
Yes, in many areas I am to do this by providing vision, direction, instruction, correction, final-decision-making, and buck-stoppaging. I am the one who goes first, especially when it is difficult, the one who lays down over the fence, and the one who takes the risk. But this is all to be positioned in a way more like a butler than a lord. I am a steward, not a king.
I’m not sure what’s ahead. I just had to get this out there.
Pray for me.