Servant Leader Principle #3 – Healing

One of the great strengths of servant leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and others. Servant leaders help themselves and others feel better and be better

BSA NYLT Syllabus, module Servant Leadership
Healing Dolls
“Healing Dolls” by JessCaracciolo is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Healing is a natural result in the application of the two proceeding principles – #1 – Listening and #2 – Empathy. Between these skills, others start to feel valued as people, and move past their feelings of stuckness and the near constant looking for others to blame. They are freed up to envision something outside themselves, and head toward a future that is more appealing than their current state.

Receiving the Healing

The healing of relationships is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and one’s relationship to others. Many people have broken spirits and have suffered from a variety of emotional hurts. Although this is a part of being human, servant leaders recognize that they have an opportunity to help make whole those with whom they come in contact.

Larry Spears Character and Servant Leadership: Ten Characteristics of Effective, Caring Leaders

This relational “making right” is a near-constant outlook for the servant leader; opportunities will present themselves in ways sometimes least expected. Including yourself, as the servant leader, as the human condition is bent toward brokenness and pain. But, this hidden habit of moving past yourself, of taking on the burdens of others, allows you to experience the freedom from your own burden.

I have been part of teams in the past that suffered underneath broken leadership. It is truly difficult to help others realize that you are not “more of the same”, that you believe in them as people that matter, that you are willing to listen and act. Deep wounds require more time, but teams are thirsty for this kind of leadership. This work of healing takes small, patient steps to build the trust required for the next principles.

An Example from Jesus

In Luke 9, Jesus introduces the fact that he will be tried, convicted, killed, and raised on the third day. The first time He mentioned it in verse 22, He moved into a discussion of how they move into this servant life, even one of suffering.

But, they did not get the message.

The second time Jesus brings this up, the disciples not only missed it, but it was like they were hearing a foreign language. Especially when they started arguing about who would be best known. See how Jesus heals the infighting:

They started arguing over which of them would be most famous. When Jesus realized how much this mattered to them, he brought a child to his side. “Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me,” he said. “And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me. You become great by accepting, not asserting. Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference.”

Luke 9:46-48 The Message

There is nothing like being reminded that a child, with child-like faith, can be greater than you to give you pause in your prideful arrogance. Jesus reveals that the smaller, the more-open, the humble are closer to Him and God – what you do outside of this acceptance is valueless.

Summing it up

Healing involves the servant leader in patient, humble, listening steps to allow the thirsty team to build trust, to see themselves as valuable, and begin to realize their potential. The servant leader is also the recipient of this healing, as the outward focus allows healing internally too.

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