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Servant Leadership October 2018

Scripture Reflection for October 21, 2018 – by David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

Are you one of the 65% of Americans who have said that you would take a new boss over a pay raise? Another question might be, “Do you have employees that you oversee? Would 65% of them prefer to take a pay cut if you were no longer their boss?” Are you afraid to even ask?

Since the bulletin is usually not the place to get management advice, let me do what I am supposed to and stick to Jesus’s words. In today’s Gospel, Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many” Mark 10:45. In other words, Jesus didn’t stand at the top of the mountain and seek to be worshiped. He lifted others up in their own struggles.

But you see, the words of Jesus are precisely the management advice we need in this day and age. It is where our Catholic faith intersects directly with the work place.

I believe one of the most fascinating figures in management and leadership is Robert K. Greenleaf who was instrumental in the rise of AT&T during his 38-year career there. In his seminal essay, “The Servant as Leader” he challenged the notion that “being the boss” is about control and authority, but rather the best leaders with the most successful result were leaders who were servants first… like Jesus was.

Robert Greenleaf began a school called the “Center for Servant Leadership” which teaches business leaders that “a better society is one that is more just and more loving, one that provides greater creative opportunity for its people.” When leaders put others first and seek to serve them, the organizations they lead not only flourish, but society does as well.

If you haven’t been familiar with the work of Robert Greenleaf, I recommend you doing a Google search about him or visit the website of his school at

His methodology and approach have been copied and built upon in many sectors of business education and with good reason. According to research completed by the University of Illinois at Chicago Business School, when a restaurant chain adopted a servant leader management plan, it resulted in a staff

that delivered 6% higher job performance, 8% increase in positive customer service ratings, and 50% higher staff retention rate. Similar research in other industries bore similar results. As any business owner knows, that affects the bottom line, but more than that, it creates a healthier and in a sense “holier” environment, one that looks a little more like the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here is another fun fact. All of us are leaders. Regar

dless of our position or industry. In our role as leaders, we have a choice, to expect service or to serve. Whenever we are faced with that choice, may we truly live up to our identity as disciples of Jesus and follow his example… to serve others.


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