The Servant Leader – Becoming a Solutionary P.1

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The Servant Leader – Becoming a “Solutionary” Part 1

What is a servant’s heart? To most people, the quintessential servant’s heart is – Mother Teresa and her team of sisters in blue-piped white saris *washing the feet of the poor and sickly in Calcutta, India. An important fact is that on a train ride in 1946, she answered the “call within the call” to give up her role as Principal of Saint Mary’s to work in the slums with the poorest and sickest in Calcutta without a perfect seven-point plan on how to make that happen. Two years later, with official permission granted and basic medical training, she walked into the streets and her life’s work.

Having accessed what was needed on the ground, she founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 with a small team of former teachers and students. By the time of her death in 1997, she oversaw a leper colony, a home for those affected by HIV/AIDs, mobile clinics, nursing homes, a center for special-needs children in Kochi, and so much more. Were there hard, gut-wrenching times? Undoubtedly. But the servant’s heart does not strive for perfection but stays focused on being a solution as long as there is an entrenched need. She garnered some criticisms but also accolades, donations, and humanitarian awards including the 1979 Nobel peace prize. Canonized in 2016 as St. Teresa of Calcutta, today, the revered servant’s humanitarian work has expanded to an international, multi-million dollar charity with 5150 sisters actively working in more than 758 missions across 139 countries.**

Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay

Two things recently got me thinking about servant leaders and the servant’s heart. First, team members were asked to take up supervisory positions and more responsibilities for a special ministry at church. Everyone took some time to consider our request. Some needed to hear from God and others needed to consult their families before committing. Of course, one must always consider the impact of serving on the family. Is hearing from God seeking an audible confirmation? Is that trying to make a distinction between what’s generally good and what’s specifically good for me? As believers, we have the Word, His peace, and His Spirit to guide us and these do. While we can’t accept every assignment, I think if it calls you up higher and beyond yourself, if it seems challenging and taunts any sense of inadequacy, it is so worth trying. But lean on God and like a miner, dig deep within for strengths and abilities that would otherwise remain dormant. A stagnant life is like the Dead Sea. Living things and beings need to grow. My breakthrough moments have always happened when I challenged myself to take the scary, unusual, and unexpected path.

Secondly, I came across Dr. Angela Lauria (Author’s Incubator) ideas on the servant’s heart.
Dr. Lauria states that “being in a place to serve has a lot to do with building your leadership muscle…becoming an object in motion…a forward-moving being.” Thus a servant’s heart is not passively idling till directions are given. Robert K. Greenleaf originally coined the term ‘servant leader’ in the publication of his classic 1970 essay, ‘The Servant as Leader‘  which launched the modern servant-leadership movement. The best leaders with an enduring impact like St. Teresa, whose maxim “I thirst…”  reminds us of the words and sufferings of Christ, adjure us to do as they have done. They are active catalysts for change, upturning the status quo, being and urging others to become “solutionaries.” Their work seeks a higher purpose to better humanity and transcends the individual. According to Greenleaf, their philosophy and practices seek to create “a more just and caring world.” A true servant detests inertia. One’s usefulness expires when they can no longer move forward. There are always new goals and challenges to tackle if we resist the paralyzing need to be 100% certain of success. 

Now, even though I know that our greatest lessons come from failures, I am just as guilty of research overload, calculating, and planning every step, making sure all the data and algorithms are just right, but then guess what happens? Nothing. Nothing but analysis-paralysis, because once we seek a no-fail process, we create an artificial biosphere, one so perfect that it has no place in reality and we lose the fun and adventure of fully living as we try to avoid (at all costs) the tension between what is and what could be. St. Teresa of Calcutta would have probably died as an excellent school principal if she had over-analyzed the extent of her assignment and in fear, refused to step out.

Okay, back to the church request – not everyone accepted the higher call but we truly love and appreciate every member of our team because in their own ways they actively serve and care for the most vulnerable amongst our children.
Servants are actually leaders who roll up their sleeves’ and “get action.” (Theodore Roosevelt) But if everyone leads, who will follow? Some people will never step up and then others who are “leader-first” are selfishly motivated by the quest for power, fame, or wealth. “Servant-first” people who make a “conscious choice to lead” then take deliberate action are in the people business. Greenleaf states that we can test a servant leader’s effectiveness by accessing if our collective humanity is better for it. Therefore, I’m convinced that we can both selectively follow and consciously lead. Our leadership and genius manifest in our specific assignments and we can learn from others in the arena.

So, take the instinct, volunteer, fan the flames of natural tendencies and build with commitment. Servant leaders act and recognize excuses for what they are – stumbling blocks to one’s true calling. Examples of servant leaders abound like Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, St. Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Moses, Albert Schweitzer, Jack Ma, Herb Kelleher, etc. This world can be hard and full of pain-points, but servant leaders are altruistic and the real heroes of our time. They have answered the call to be solutionaries and to an adventure – imperfect, unpredictable, and scary…but so worth it!

Ama.
#Becoming

References & Notes:

(1)The command or *mandatum in St. John’s gospel has become a religious rite observed in Islam and Christianity. Maundy Thursday during the Holy Week imitates the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus as a lesson in humility and service to each other. In Islam, the Wudu is a partial ablution or purifying activity before salat (formal prayers) and handling the Qur’an.

(2) Data of Active Contemplative Sisters (2015) The Order of the Missionaries of Charity. https://www.motherteresa.org/missionaries-of-charity.html website accessed 1/21/2020

(3) Mother Teresa (1910-1997) https://www.biography.com/religious-figure/mother-teresa. updd. 08/26/19

(4) Dr. Angela E. Lauria, 2016. “The Incubated Author – 10 Steps to Start a Movement With Your Message.” KPP eBook

(5) Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. 1970. ‘The Servant as Leader’ https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/  website accessed 1/21/2020

(6)”Solutionary” is the word used by my brother, Hon. Idopise Essien to describe his life work as a compassionate, solution-driven entrepreneur seeking to address the problems of entrenched rural communities. His company, Seteiye Integrated Services, takes solar-powered lighting to off-grid villages in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. I’ll explore his journey in the upcoming “A Servant’s Heart – Part 2.”

Image Credits: Google & Pixabay

The Makeover – A Breakup Ritual

 

The Makeover – A Breakup Ritual

by Ama Danesi

 

Does my face hiss like a repellent, will another walk away?
One fizzled without reason, another from pity or naiveté
described the shroud, darkness over his loins and my face.
Shunted, his quiver melted, the promise puddled.
His last embrace, like a scorpion’s segmented tail, hurtful.

Take me to Asiya, teach me about a lover’s face,
douse me in herbal steam & incant loudly to chase
the ugly away & buff the crust of hurt from
the charred sun-burn on my heart,
the etched path of tears to my dimples.

Take me to Asiya, behind faded blue walls,
in white garments, and rust-colored beads,
from eyes sunken, reveal what deviance ails us.
Healer, have I been so wicked in this life
that my face darkens like that of a bear?
Daughter, the unwise chase the sly sun moving east.
Seeking a slate unburdened by history and familiar hurt.
They cannot see you – easier to walk away and watch as
you blaze beyond comprehension among the stars.

 

 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Qui Vive

Already, this year has been exceptionally trying, but I have chosen to serve and to give out what I need most – an encouraging word. My hope for you all today is that you do not become weary from expecting the good. I am so ready for the harvest that comes after the waiting…

Qui Vive by Ama Danesi

In whatever state we find ourselves

God is working out the opposite.

When we fall, He lifts us up.

When we are bound, He frees our souls.

In the face of certain defeat, He is working

out a victory that cannot be denied.

In our darkest nights and earnest watching – qui vive.

His love roars loud and clear above the taunting waves.

He calms our heartbeat to the rhythm of His breath.

He sent us a helpless baby as Savior of the world.

Once an alien in Egypt but rich in gold, silver, and myrrh.

The pain and suffering that He allows, ushers in

destiny and purpose. He plants in untilled soil, that the

harvest may be wild and unrestrained reaching to

the ends of the earth and places marked “x.”

In the face of sorrow, our hope & joy is His name –

Emmanuel, God with us.

 

Alert & hopeful,

AD.

Historical Fun Fact:

Even motor boats have a purpose and are remembered for their service. The USS Qui Vive (SP – 1004) was part of the United States Naval Fighting fleet from 1917 – 1919. She served as a patrol vessel then as a hospital boat in the 5th Naval District during World War 1. Originally built by the Hutchinson Brothers (Alexandria, NY) for Houston Barnard (Rochester, NY) she was chartered by the Navy until she was decommissioned and returned at the end of her naval career. Her current state is unknown but her work and service endure.
(Bio and image credit: NavSource.org /Wikipedia/Pixabay)

Giving to Live

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“They throw caution to the winds,

Giving…in reckless abandon.

Their right-living, right-giving ways,

never run out, never wear out.”*

There are primarily two ways of administering our gifts to the world, as a matter of enthusiastic generosity or as a grudging obligation. Which defines your posture? Honestly, that’s about all we can control. I often find myself holding back when I prejudge or speculate about the reward as if I am entirely responsible for that. I find we can trust the blueprint and fearless design encoded in our being that gives rise to our natural abilities, to also amaze us with its commitment to reward our service and offerings beyond our expectations. A stingy farmer gets it stingy harvest but since many of us have sown love, laughter, care or blood, sweat, and tears; then as nature does, we must go through the process of seed, time, and harvest.

When we perceive the world as an inherited land, we can see ourselves as both the seed bearers and sowers. Imagine that every obstacle is an opportunity to learn from those who have gone before or time to color outside the lines. There’s a good reason why there are no easy, cookie-cutter answers to specific problems. Notably, those particular issues that test our enduring human spirit. University of Houston’s research professor and empathy advocate, Brené Brown encourages us to “Dare greatly.”

The best-selling author of Without Rival (2016) Lisa Bevere at the recent Confident Woman conference said, “Sometimes you have to stop looking around and look within because you’re supposed to do something that’s never been done before.” She asserts that we are not only unique, we are without rival. Therefore, in our authentic spaces, we bring an essence that can only be imitated but never duplicated.

We are all given something we can give away. Right-living demands we believe that. Right-giving requires a full commitment. Excuses are for wimps. I know that because I’ve held that office for some considerable time, but the ache of floundering snarls and nags at you like an addiction that will not quit till you either leaving as dead or show up as your authentic self. The lyric from the band, United Pursuit’s Let it Happen (2015) says, “You’re full of life now. And full of passion. That’s how he made you. Just let it happen.” Every seed planted in truth will grow, and every tree that shows up will have enough headroom to flourish.

On a practical level, I believe that today’s superheroes are entrepreneurs and visionaries. People with the drive to create, develop, refine, and nurture a crazy idea till it becomes an empire or offering that enriches the lives of others. Risks and profits considered, these are “doing” people. The scary part of the equation is actually doing something, putting something out there. Talk is not only cheap, but it’s also mediocre. It’s like putting your hand to the plow and looking back to the safe zone or the cozy couch –  the place without judgment and expectation – warm as an eagle’s nest to an oversized eaglet.

Let it happen. Verbs are the most potent expressions. They transform any passive line into an active and engaging one involving an action, the responsible party, and a reaction. My verb and doing word is “write, ” and because it comes easy, I often think it’s not valuable to anyone else. Now that’s a partial lie, applicable only to my journaling. Don’t buy into partial lies or let them stunt transformation. Greatness is not handed down, it is cultivated. If I want extraordinary results and life, then I have to work at writing, show up on the field and generously plant words as seeds. To others, the seed may be a new business, a new app, a sketch, a song, or another dance audition.

Final word to me and the wise – “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”** And that is so you never run or wear out. Find your verb and do it every day you are blessed to see the sunrise.

In service,

AD.

Credits:

Image – Pixabay

2 Corth. 9:8 (MSG)

Luke 6:38 (NIV)

This New America and Other Random Thoughts

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When your child’s school leaves a recorded voice message, offering counseling sessions and use of their Office of Human Relations and Equity to support meaningful conversations and concerns that you or your child may have, following a presidential election, you know that this is not normal.
When the district superintendent follows up with yet another message, soliciting your help to encourage your child to use assemblies, classroom dialogues, and open-mic activities to address their frustrations, because the district is concerned about the uptake student rebellion, falling grades, lawlessness, and walk-outs on campus, after the same presidential election, again,  not normal.

When you have to wear an unflattering safety pin on your collar or put up a hideous poster of one in your office or business to show your solidarity with millions of people who are terrified of racist and anti-Semitic abuse, and vandalism, which is occurring at alarming rates, after the same presidential election, you know this is a new America.
The safety pin symbol inspired by Syndey’s 2014 #illridewithyou movement following the Islamophobic backlash after a terrorist attack and adopted by Brits in the wake of the BREXIT against xenophobic abuse, has finally arrived in the United States of America. In USA Today, experts report that post-election spate of hate crimes is worse than post-9/11.

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We now live in a country where post-election, people can fly the confederate flag on their cars. People can boldly blandish the swastika – a sacred symbol used in Neolithic Eurasia, Eastern Religions, and Europe for good luck and well-being – until Schliemann 1920’s volkisch movement adopted it as a symbol of “Aryan identity” and German nationalist pride.
This election was about American nationalist pride (for a country founded by immigrants, who displaced the native Indians, that’s an oxymoron). It was also about the economy and pocketbook issues. On both fronts, the more stable and reasonable candidate, Hillary Clinton won the people’s heart and confidence a.k.a the popular vote by a margin of over two million and counting; but lost the electoral college vote.

These last few weeks has seen passionate anti-Trump demonstrations in over thirty-seven states. I get the frustration. How can the country reward a man with questionable morals, twitter-happy fingers, checkered business practices, and pending court cases with the highest honor and office of the land? A man so uninformed, inexperienced, unprepared and undisciplined that over sixty percent of the voters agreed that he was not qualified to be commander-in-chief.

Our children are decrying this choice that the ‘adults’ have made. It’s not fair to ask them to accept that Donald Trump can break all the rules of decency and decorum when he shattered accepted norms like transparency, facts, and tolerance. That he who became the crusader for propaganda and deplorable views can now wield enormous power over the nation. Our kids are asking, “Why should we bother to do right, be kind and do homework?”

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As a parent, I could not find the right answers. Instead, I offer a few thoughts:

  • Life is not fair. Sometimes we do not get what we deserve. Other times, grace gives us what we have not earned.
  • Christians call God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Remember Jacob? He was known as the heel-grabber, deceiver, cheat, swindler, schemer, and usurper) Even after Jacob’s name was changed to Israel which means prince, God still preferred the former name. Maybe because as a fantasist, Jacob had ideas and desires that were outside the norm. He was a passionate change agent. It’s the what,  not the who.
  • To settle the *rancor between his disciples, when Peter asked. “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus answered,”…what is that to you? You follow me.” Our focus after this election returns to evaluating our lives, keeping our hope on the Lord who rules in the affairs of men and has a broader perspective.
  • Stock up on emergency supplies. In a climate of unrest and discord, be prepared in case of a lock-down.
  • Donald Trump has four years to prove the skeptics wrong. If he takes the oath of office and fails to be the president that American needs, it will be a rough four years because people are committed to holding him accountable to the ideals of the office of the President.
  • Get involved in the political process. Talk to those with opposing views.
  • Pray. Pray for Donald, our leaders, and the victors. Pray comfort for Hillary and those who are broken-hearted and scared. Pray for wisdom, hope, and healing.

This situation is not normal. Our children, friends, and neighbors demonstrating for over a week, is not the usual aftermath of a presidential election. The bitter, tart tone of the past election season is responsible for this new America, but we’ll move forward if we all do our part.

May God bless the United States of America and All of us.

Photo Credits: Pixabay Images and amadanesi.com
*John 21:20-23