Benchmark – Servant Leadership and Christianity

In the Topic Materials you were introduced to Robert Greenleaf’s principles of servant leadership. You also read biblical passages related to servant leadership. Using a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram, illustrate the similarities and differences between Greenleaf’s principles of servant leadership and those presented in the biblical passages.In 500 words, summarize how both Greenleaf and Christianity call people to serve and discuss how one feels when called to serve as a leader. In your summary, include discussion of the idea that power comes from giving it away and putting oneself in the position to serve others. Using Matthew 20:20-28 and Greenleaf’s principles of servant leadership as a basis, discuss how taking the role of a servant can make one a leader. Provide specific examples to support your ideas.Submit your graphic organizer and written response as a Word document or pdf.APA format is not required, but solid academic writing is expected.This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.
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THE SERVANT AS LEADER
The Servant as Leader Servant and leader—can these two roles be fused in one real person, in all levels
of status or calling? If so, can that person live and be productive in the real world of the present? My
sense of the present leads me to say yes to both questions. This chapter is an attempt to explain why
and to suggest how. The idea of the servant as leader came out of reading Hermann Hesse’s Journey to
the East. In this story we see a band of men on a mythical journey, probably also Hesse’s own journey.
The central figure of the story is Leo, who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial
chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song. He is a person of extraordinary presence.
All goes well until Leo disappears. Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned. They
cannot make it without the servant Leo. The narrator, one of the party, after some years of wandering,
finds Leo and is taken into the Order that had sponsored the journey. There he discovers that Leo,
whom he had known first as servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great
and noble leader. One can muse on what Hesse was trying to say when he wrote this story. We know
that most of his fiction was autobiographical, that he led a tortured life, and that Journey to the East
suggests a turn toward the serenity he achieved in his old age. There has been much speculation by
critics on Hesse’s life and work, some of it centering on this story which they find the most puzzling. But
to me, this story clearly says that the great leader is seen as servant first, and that simple fact is the key
to his greatness. Leo was actually the leader all of the time, but he was servant first because that was
what he was, deep down inside. Leadership was bestowed upon a person who was by nature a servant.
It was something given, or assumed, that could be taken away. His servant nature was the real man, not
bestowed, not assumed, and not to be taken away. He was servant first. I mention Hesse and Journey to
the East for two reasons. First, I want to acknowledge the source of the idea of the servant as leader.
Then I want to use this reference as an introduction to a brief discussion of prophecy. Fifteen years ago
when I first read about Leo, if I had been listening to contemporary prophecy as intently as I do now, the
first draft of this piece might have been written then. As it was, the idea lay dormant for eleven years
until, four years ago, I concluded that we in this country were in a leadership crisis and that I should do
what I could about it. I became painfully aware of how dull my sense of contemporary prophecy had
been. And I have reflected much on why we do not hear and heed the prophetic voices in our midst (not
a new question in our times, nor more critical than heretofore). I now embrace the theory of prophecy,
which holds that prophetic voices of great clarity, and with a quality of insight equal to that of any age,
are speaking cogently all of the time. Men and women of a stature equal to the greatest of the past are
with us now addressing the problems of the day and pointing to a better way and to a personality better
able to live fully and serenely in these times. The variable that marks some periods as barren and some
as rich in prophetic vision is in the interest, the level of seeking, the responsiveness of the hearers. The
variable is not in the presence or absence or the relative quality and force of the prophetic voices.
Prophets grow in stature as people respond to their message. If their early attempts are ignored or
spurned, their talent may wither away. It is seekers, then, who make prophets, and the initiative of any
one of us in searching for and responding to the voice of contemporary prophets may mark the turning
point in their growth and service. But since we are the product of our own history, we see current
prophecy within the context of past wisdom. We listen to as wide a range of contemporary thought as
we can attend to. Then we choose those we elect to heed as prophets—both old and new—and meld
their advice with our own leadings. This we test in real-life experiences to establish our own position.
Some who have difficulty with this theory assert that their faith rests on one or more of the prophets of
old having given the “word” for all time and that the contemporary ones do not speak to their condition
as the older ones do. But if one really believes that the “word” has been given for all time, how can one
be a seeker? How can one hear the contemporary voice when one has decided not to live in the present
and has turned that voice off? Neither this hypothesis nor its opposite can be proved, but I submit that
the one given here is the more hopeful choice, one that offers a significant role in prophecy to every
individual. One cannot interact with and build strength in a dead prophet, but one can do it with a living
one. “Faith,” Dean Inge has said, “is the choice of the nobler hypothesis.” One does not, of course,
ignore the great voices of the past. One does not awaken each morning with the compulsion to reinvent
the wheel. But if one is servant, either leader or follower, one is always searching, listening, expecting
that a better wheel for these times is in the making. It may emerge any day. Any one of us may find it
out from personal experience. I am hopeful. I am hopeful for these times, despite the tension and
conflict, because more natural servants are trying to see clearly the world as it is and are listening
carefully to prophetic voices that are speaking now. They are challenging the pervasive injustice with
greater force, and they are taking sharper issue with the wide disparity between the quality of society
they know is reasonable and possible with available resources, and, on the other hand, the actual
performance of the whole range of institutions that exist to serve society. A fresh critical look is being
taken at the issues of power and authority, and people are beginning to learn, however haltingly, to
relate to one another in less coercive and more creatively supporting ways. A new moral principle is
emerging, which holds that the only authority deserving one’s allegiance is that which is freely and
knowingly granted by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the clearly evident
servant stature of the leader. Those who choose to follow this principle will not casually accept the
authority of existing institutions. Rather, they will freely respond only to individuals who are chosen as
leaders because they are proven and trusted as servants. To the extent that this principle prevails in the
future, the only truly viable institutions will be those that are predominantly servant led. I am mindful of
the long road ahead before these trends, which I see so clearly, become a major society-shaping force.
We are not there yet. But I see encouraging movement on the horizon. What direction will the
movement take? Much depends on whether those who stir the ferment will come to grips with the ageold problem of how to live in a human society. I say this because so many, having made their awesome
decision for autonomy and independence from tradition, and having taken their firm stand against
injustice and hypocrisy, find it hard to convert themselves into affirmative builders of a better society.
How many of them will seek their personal fulfillment by making the hard choices and by undertaking
the rigorous preparation that building a better society requires? It all depends on what kind of leaders
emerge and how they—we—respond to them. My thesis, that more servants should emerge as leaders,
or should follow only servant-leaders, is not a popular one. It is much more comfortable to go with a less
demanding point of view about what is expected of one now. There are several undemanding, plausibly
argued alternatives to choose. One, since society seems corrupt, is to seek to avoid the center of it by
retreating to an idyllic existence that minimizes involvement with the “system” (with the “system” that
makes such withdrawal possible). Then there is the assumption that since the effort to reform existing
institutions has not brought instant perfection, the remedy is to destroy them completely so that fresh
new perfect ones can grow. Not much thought seems to be given to the problem of where the new seed
will come from or who the gardener to tend them will be. The concept of the servant-leader stands in
sharp contrast to this kind of thinking. Yet it is understandable that the easier alternatives would be
chosen, especially by young people. By extending education for so many so far into the adult years,
normal participation in society is effectively denied when young people are ready for it. With education
that is preponderantly abstract and analytical it is no wonder that there is a preoccupation with criticism
and that not much thought is given to “What can I do about it?” Criticism has its place, but as a total
preoccupation it is sterile. In a time of crisis, like the leadership crisis we are now in, if too many
potential builders are taken in by a complete absorption with dissecting the wrong and by a zeal for
instant perfection, then the movement so many of us want to see will be set back. The danger, perhaps,
is to hear the analyst too much and the artist too little. Albert Camus stands apart from other great
artists of his time, in my view, and deserves the title of prophet because of his unrelenting demand that
each of us confront the exacting terms of our own existence, and, like Sisyphus, accept our rock and find
our happiness in dealing with it. Camus sums up the relevance of his position to our concern for the
servant as leader in the last paragraph of his last published lecture, entitled “Create Dangerously”: One
may long, as I do, for a gentler flame, a respite, a pause for musing. But perhaps there is no other peace
for the artist than what he finds in the heat of combat. “Every wall is a door,” Emerson correctly said. Let
us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living. Instead,
let us seek the respite where it is—in the very thick of battle. For in my opinion, and this is where I shall
close, it is there. Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps, then, if
we listen attentively, we shall hear, amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the
gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation, others, in a man. I believe
rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works
every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth
fleetingly the ever-threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundations of his own sufferings
and joys, builds for them all. One is asked, then, to accept the human condition, its sufferings and its
joys, and to work with its imperfections as the foundation upon which the individual will build
wholeness through adventurous creative achievement. For the person with creative potential there is no
wholeness except in using it. And, as Camus explained, the going is rough and the respite is brief. It is
significant that he would title his last university lecture “Create Dangerously.” And, as I ponder the
fusing of servant and leader, it seems a dangerous creation: dangerous for the natural servant to
become a leader, dangerous for the leader to be servant first, and dangerous for a follower to insist on
being led by a servant. There are safer and easier alternatives available to all three. But why take them?
As I respond to the challenge of dealing with this question in the ensuing discourse, I am faced with two
problems. First, I did not get the notion of the servant as leader from conscious logic. Rather, it came to
me as an intuitive insight as I contemplated Leo. And I do not see what is relevant from my own
searching and experience in terms of a logical progression from premise to conclusion. Rather, I see it as
fragments of data to be fed into my internal computer from which intuitive insights come. Serving and
leading are still mostly intuition-based concepts in my thinking. The second problem, related to the first,
is that, just as there may be a real contradiction in the servant as leader, so my perceptual world is full
of contradictions. Some examples: I believe in order, and I want creation out of chaos. My good society
will have strong individualism amid community. It will have elitism along with populism. I listen to the
old and to the young and find myself baffled and heartened by both. Reason and intuition, each in its
own way, both comfort and dismay me. There are many more. Yet, with all of this, I believe that I live
with as much serenity as do my contemporaries who venture into controversy as freely as I do but
whose natural bent is to tie up the essentials of life in neat bundles of logic and consistency. But I am
deeply grateful to the people who are logical and consistent because some of them, out of their natures,
render invaluable services for which I am not capable. My resolution of these two problems is to offer
the relevant gleanings of my experience in the form of a series of unconnected little essays, some
developed more fully than others, with the suggestion that they be read and pondered separately within
the context of this opening section.
Who Is the Servant-Leader?
The servant-leader is servant first—as Leo was portrayed. It begins with the natural feeling that one
wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply
different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive
or to acquire material possessions. For such, it will be a later choice to serve—after leadership is
established. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are
shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature. The difference manifests itself
in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being
served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they,
while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to
become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least
not be further deprived? As one sets out to serve, how can one know that this will be the result? This is
part of the human dilemma; one cannot know for sure. One must, after some study and experience,
hypothesize—but leave the hypothesis under a shadow of doubt. Then one acts on the hypothesis and
examines the result. One continues to study and learn and periodically one reexamines the hypothesis
itself. Finally, one chooses again. Perhaps one chooses the same hypothesis again and again. But it is
always a fresh, open choice. And it is always a hypothesis under a shadow of doubt. “Faith is the choice
of the nobler hypothesis.” Not the noblest; one never knows what that is. But the nobler, the best one
can see when the choice is made. Since the test of results of one’s actions is usually long delayed, the
faith that sustains the choice of the nobler hypothesis is psychological self-insight. This is the most
dependable part of the true servant. The natural servant, the person who is servant-first, is more likely
to persevere and refine a particular hypothesis on what serves another’s highest priority needs than is
the person who is leader-first and who later serves out of promptings of conscience or in conformity
with normative expectations. My hope for the future rests in part on my belief that among the legions of
deprived and unsophisticated people are many true servants who will lead and that most of them can
learn to discriminate among those who presume to serve them and identify the true servants whom
they will follow.
Everything Begins with the Initiative of an Individual
The forces for good and evil in the world are propelled by the thoughts, attitudes, and actions of
individual beings. What happens to our values, and therefore to the quality of our civilization in the
future, will be shaped by the conceptions of individuals that are born of inspiration. Perhaps only a few
will receive this inspiration (insight) and the rest will learn from them. The very essence of leadership,
going out ahead to show the way, derives from more than usual openness to inspiration. Why would
anybody accept the leadership of another except that the other sees more clearly where it is best to go?
Perhaps this is the current problem: too many who presume to lead do not see more clearly, and in
defense of their inadequacy, they all the more strongly argue that the “system” must be preserved—a
fatal error in this day of candor. But the leader needs more than inspiration. A leader ventures to say, “I
will go; come with me!” A leader initiates, provides the ideas and the structure, and takes the risk of
failure along with the chance of success. A leader says, “I will go; follow me!” while knowing that the
path is uncertain, even dangerous. One then trusts those who go with one’s leadership. Paul Goodman,
speaking through a character in Making Do, has said, “If there is no community for you, young man,
young man, make it yourself.”
What Are You Trying to Do?
“What are you trying to do?” is one of the easiest to ask and most difficult to answer of questions. A
mark of leaders, an attribute that puts them in a position to show the way for others, is that they are
better than most at pointing the direction. As long as one is leading, one always has a goal. It may be a
goal arrived at by group consensus, or the leader, acting on inspiration, may simply have said, “Let’s go
this way.” But the leader always knows what it is and can articulate it for any who are unsure. By clearly
stating and restating the goal the leader gives certainty to others who may have difficulty in achieving it
for themselves. The word goal is used here in the special sense of the overarching purpose, the big
dream, the visionary concept, the ultimate consummation that one approaches but never really
achieves. It is something presently out of reach; it is something to strive for, to move toward, to
become. It is so stated that it excites the imagination and challenges people to work for something they
do not yet know how to do, something they can be proud of as they move toward it. Every achievement
starts with a goal—but not just any goal and not just anybody stating it. The one who states the goal
must elicit trust, especially if it is a high risk or visionary goal, because those who follow are asked to
accept the risk along with the leader. Leaders do not elicit trust unless one has confidence in their values
and competence (including judgment) and unless they have a sustaining spirit (entheos) that will
support the tenacious pursuit of a goal. Not much happens without a dream. And for something great to
happen, there must be a great dream. Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of great dreams.
Much more than a dreamer is required to bring it to reality, but the dream must be there first.
Listening and Understanding
One of our very able leaders recently was made the head of a large, important, and difficult-toadminister public institution. After a short time he realized that he was not happy with the way things
were going. His approach to the problem was a bit unusual. For three months he stopped reading
newspapers and listening to news broadcasts; and for this period h …
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