Thursday, March 29, 2012

Servant Leadership

We see so many arbitrary and contradictory things here in Ecuador that it becomes difficult at times to square it with our North American frame of reference.  How can a people put so much emphasis on having full-breed dogs when the cost of them is the same as in the states while the average salary is roughly $300/mos.?  Or why does a culture which treats each other so rudely on the road (drivers are three times more aggressive and discourteous here than NY city drivers) greet everyone in the room as they enter an eating establishment with ' Buenas Tardes' or 'Buen Provencal?'  Yesterday, as I was driving down a busy road, I noticed a boy on foot trying to catch up with a horse running loose along a fence.  To help out, I tried pulling in front of the horse twice to cut off his advance so the boy could put a harness on him.  The horse managed to get away both times and I last saw both disappear into a residential area after he thanked me for helping.  I'll finish the story later and explain why this is relevant to the topic........

Servant leadership is many things, but arbitrary and contradicting it is not.  I'm currently doing a study on the book of Joshua to use his leadership as a model to teach spiritual principles utilizing the confidence course we are developing here at the camp. In the first chapter of Joshua, the Lord simply states three things as he charges him with his ministry: 'I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised to Moses.' , 'No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.' and 'As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.'  Inherent in those statements: HE always proves faithful to HIS word, ordains the events in our lives for HIS purposes, no new work is being done - just being built upon, blessing comes with obedience and HIS power is available to us if we are in HIS will.  The encouragement is that even with imperfect models in our lives, we learn that the Kingdom continues to advance regardless the failure or in completion of our individual work, our predecessor's or the ability of either.  Joshua simply led with a sole focus in mind, pleasing God.  The evidence is in the results: Joshua's defeat at Jerico, destruction of Ai, defeat of the five Amorite Kings, conquering of the southern cities and the defeat of the Northern Kings, the eventual division, allotment  and appointment of the Land.  Afterwards, the Lord reminds Joshua at Shechem in Joshua 24:13-14, "So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.  Now, fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness."   Who are we giving credit to of that which is given to us?  The legacy of Servant Leadership is 'paid forward' as seen in verse 31 of the same chapter, "Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel."

I have been convicted of what this looks like in my life about how I am preparing my kids for their future lives.  Is it man-focused or God-focused?  Am I teaching them more about how to get good grades, get into college or how to improve rather than teaching on overall personal responsibility, how to deal with disappointment in people and circumstances by changing their focus and helping to direct them on the path that God is shaping for them?  What if they want to take a more non-traditional route?  Am I more focused on the head rather than the heart?  On behavior rather than belief?

There are several pictures of Servant Leadership I have in my mind.  One is of how the orphans serve each other on the foundation.  As inconvenient as it is, no one 'owns' anything, it is all shared.  Home is not a location but a state of security in their mind based in relationship with others.  Family is not blood related but based on 130 others caring for needs by apportioning skill sets and looking out for the welfare/well-being of others first above their own.  Lastly, adoption is not done on paper or through legal channels but occurs in the heart by the miracle of salvation!

 The second picture is that of two second grade classes at Alliance Academy holding a drive by collecting clothes, shoes and toys because their needs were more than met but they heard there was an orphanage in the Los Chillos Valle that could always use those items.  On the receiving end is a Director apportioning those items appropriately among the needs of orphanage.  A Director who as a boy himself came to the same foundation 40 years earlier because his father was shot to death and had no where else to go.  A Director who could have been comfortable in that position just looking out for his own interests in a system that relishes power and position.  But, he chose to use his position as a platform to birth five  churches to provide hope to the hopeless and unveil a faith with a future.

Normally, I like to leave us out of most discussion but this hits close to home and is relevant to the topic.  The last picture is that of family members who had 3 months to prepare to uproot, move and adjust to a language and culture they neither chose nor were familiar with.  A family living and bridging between two very different worlds on a daily basis: the very rich in Quito and very poor in Conocoto.  No better example was the recent decision for Maggie to participate in the play, "Puss and Boots" and the families corporate commitment.    Sounds simple enough but it took significant effort by each person to pull it off.  Rehearsals took place each night until 6 pm and the last two weeks from 6-9 pm.  School lets out at 3:45 pm and we live an hour away.  Translated, since Ann chose to do the choreography for the show, it required her to be there for rehearsals after all day teaching and sometimes taking two buses home. The boys had to do the same every day I didn't drive to pick up the girls.  I'm starting to think there was some grain of truth in Hillary Clinton's statement, "It takes a village to raise a child".............This picture will always remind me of the sacrifice and servant hearts it took to allow Maggie to worship Christ with her God-given talent.
   So, where does the horse come in?  Later on that day, I ran into the same boy on his horse with the  loose horse in tow.  I gave him a thumbs up and began to wonder why I couldn't get this event out of my head.  And it dawned on me.  If we want to be servant leaders, we must first desire to want to bring our direction under the owners control.  It is not in our nature to be saddled, given tasks or be led by the reigns. We yearn to 'do our own thing' and run wild like that horse.  Secondly, the rope attached to our halter is necessary for two reasons.  We must  follow His lead for both our safety and His purposes.  He knows where the work is, the direction to get there and where home is!  Have you made it easy for people to follow your Servant Leadership or is it arbitrary and contradicting?  When we look behind us, how is the well-being of those who are following us?  Are our actions, behaviors and decisions based on  what we can see ahead or do we have the end in mind?

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