The unexpected benefit of being of service

“Twelve ministers and theologians of all faiths and twelve psychiatrists of all faiths had convened for a two-day off-the-record seminar on the one-word theme of healing,” Robert Greenleaf writes in The Servant as Leader.

The Chairman, a psychiatrist, began the seminar by saying, “We are all healers, whether we are ministers or doctors.  Why are we in this business?  What is our motivation?”

“There followed only ten minutes of intense discussion and they were all agreed, doctors and ministers, Catholics, Jews, and Protestants,” writes Robert. 

“For our own healing,” they said.

One of the definitions of the word healing is “to make whole.”  Robert states: “The example above suggests that one really never makes it. It is always something sought.” 

As servant-leaders, is our own healing part of our motivation?

“There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between servant-leader and led, is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share,” Robert suggests.

At PCI, doing community service projects together is part of our culture.  From working in groups at the Angel Tree and delivering gifts to families at the Salvation Army warehouse, to raising money and walking for The Race for the Cure, to cooking dinners for families at the Ronald McDonald house, to putting flowers on veterans grave sites at the Horton Veterans Cemetery.

My personal favorite project was Hearts and Hammers, organized by the city of Dallas, where groups would volunteer to paint, landscape and do exterior repairs on a specific home, usually owned by an elderly person.  Each fall 50 or so PCIers and family members would show up early on a Saturday morning and work all-day fixing up someone’s home.

A highlight of the day was always when the home owner would come outside and express their delight and gratitude for the work that had been done.  

In addition to the camaraderie and team building which results from doing good work together, I always believed the best part of the day was the happy exhaustion and warmth in our hearts that comes with being of service.

It is a similar, albeit more subtle feeling that comes with showing up every day as a servant leader.  Deep, genuine satisfaction results from helping colleagues unlock their potential. 

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Reflection: What are the benefits of leading as a servant leader?

Action: Purchase a copy of The Servant as Leader and read it. 

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