What it truly means to be a servant

Published 9:37 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

By Dr. David Jackson

For centuries, scholars have struggled to derive a definition for leadership.

One of the most profound and impactful leadership forms is servant leadership.

Email newsletter signup

Wikipedia defines a servant leader as, “someone who is servant first, who has responsibility to be in the world, and so he contributes to the well-being of people and community.

A servant leader looks to the needs of the people and asks himself how he can help them to solve problems and promote personal development.” A servant leader’s key attribute is to serve first.

Servant leaders are not concerned with titles, material possessions or status. Servant leaders are motivated by knowing that others have benefited as a result of their service. Servant leaders are more concerned about what they give than what they receive.

The servant leader’s foundational principal is love. Martin Luther King said, “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—Soul generated by love.”

A company or institution practicing servant leadership principles will love its customers or constituents and will do whatever it takes to meet and exceed their needs.

An individual will love his or her neighbor in spite of faults or challenges, and remain focused on uplifting and improving their conditions.

Think for a moment— if leaders or pseudo leaders in Selma would embrace servant leadership principles, what kind of place would it be?

I believe the tension would go away because the focus would shift from obtaining or maintaining a leadership position to finding ways to serve.

Current organizations in Selma would work together to serve rather than determining how to meet individual organizational goals. Individual lives would improve because differences would be viewed as opportunities to make a difference, instead of creating a difference.

Servant leadership extends beyond any individual service event. It is a developed, sustainable lifestyle that continues to seek any and all opportunities to serve. Servant leadership principles are not difficult, but they require a change in thinking from self-focus to other focus.

The challenge each day is to answer the question: What can I do to serve others?

When you answer the question, do it.