Servant Leader Principle #10 – Community

Servant leaders seek to create a community that supports all of its members.

BSA NYLT Syllabus, module Servant Leadership

Because we have isolated ourselves into larger, more anonymous living settings, our sense of independence hampers us from experiencing community – one that we are responsible to, and gain benefit from, and feel a place within.

As individuals are encouraged in growth, and some become servant leaders themselves, the servant leader turns toward building cohesiveness for mutual benefit to all group members. This is like a flywheel, in that the group starts feeding itself, and even turns to spread out in the community.

This mutual serving each other is a powerful hedge against the isolation we drift towards. And, as we bond together for a common cause, we add to the serving posture, and make impacts both external, and internal to ourselves and the group.

Creating community in Institutions

The servant leader senses that much has been lost in recent human history as a result of the shift from local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human lives. This awareness causes the servant leader to seek to identify some means for building community among those who work within a given institution. Servant leadership suggests that true community can be created among those who work in businesses and other institutions.

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

It is possible to create community within an organization, even a business; much like servant leaders can build groups in any context, servant leaders can leverage groups into community.

I’ve had the privilege of building one community in my business setting, formed to handle breakdowns in satisfaction among people in our organization. From the forming stages of complaining, they now have turned into an problem-solving group. The satisfaction of seeing individual growth and healing has more than outweighed the effort required. This deserves a post later.

Servant Leaders as Focusers

Greenleaf (1977/2002) said: All that is needed to rebuild community as a viable life form for large numbers of people is for enough servant-leaders to show the way, not by mass movements, but by each servant-leader demonstrating his or her unlimited liability for a quite specific community-related group.

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

Servant leaders who focus on one specific problem, disturbed by their awareness of a broken area, become a powerful lever as they gather those around that also feel the brokenness. For instance, think about these servant leaders, and the brokenness they coalesced others around – making lasting change for community healing:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. – Leader of the Civil Rights movement
  • Nelson Mandela – Equality in apartheid (segregated) South Africa
  • Mahatma Gandhi – Opposing colonial rule in India
  • Mother Teresa – Served people who were dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis in Calcutta, India

Laying Down Your Life

Jesus spoke of this way of servanthood – specifically to love one another. This love required sacrifice; the intentional setting-aside of yourself for those that you are serving:

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

John 15:11-15 The Message

Call to Servants

So, who are you putting your life on the line for?

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