Friday, 15 April 2016


Servant Leadership in our Homes

A number of months ago an academic-type friend and I were talking, and she brought forward the subject of 'servant leadership.' She fed me some garb about how 'servant leaders' seek to put the needs of others first as a way of leading and to allow others to 'share' in the power as opposed to a more traditional leadership models which see power flowing from the top-down. Anyway, my thought was, ‘Pssth. Servant leadership. This is just some buzz word that some stuffy academic invented to make him and all his nerdy friends feel all warm and fuzzy inside while they alternate between sitting in peaceful offices and taking sabbaticals.' But, for whatever reason, this notion stuck with me.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, as if often our custom, we made a trip to my family farm and childhood home for Easter. Now, I have to preface this story by telling you that I have a BIG family (I hear you, you have a BIG family multiply yours by 10), and this big family of mine likes to get together for special occasions, play cards, stay up late, and, most importantly, eat a really big meal. So with that in mind, it is no small responsibility that the execution of these epic occasions inevitably falls on the shoulders of one of my sisters. Same sister every time. Don't ask me why, but it's B who sends out an email three months in advance asking which days and times work to get together for X special occasion, and it's B who, after only getting one reply, sends out a reminder email a month later gently asking the same question. After getting a few more replies, she sets a time which then, via multiple other correspondences, she then rearranges to accommodate brother so-and-so who is making the trip from Japan and can only do Saturday pm.

Fast forward to the actual day of said special occasion, and then you have the food. Well, it is B who arranges who is going to bring what (even though she will still end up doing the bulk of the work), and it is B who considers who's a vegetarian this year, and B who stresses about what the new boyfriend (allergic to nuts, wheat, and hates cheese) will eat, and B who rustles up her famous cinnamon buns because niece so-and-so has specially requested them. And then it is B, who after a great feast and with a few helping hands (we're not that terrible) keeps right on trucking until the dishes are in the dishwasher, and the leftovers are put away or sent in care packages with the starving students. Then there is a whole shitload of chaos and noise and connecting and reconnecting and love, and everyone goes home happy and renewed, unquestioning in their expectation that B will absolutely do it all again for the next special occasion.

So, I get it! This. THIS is ‘servant leadership.’ My own sister personifies it, because in the 20 odd years since our mother’s passing, there have been more than few special occasions, all of which materialized into nothing short of magic under B’s careful watch. The word ‘servant’ is entirely appropriate since, unless you count that one time we all chipped together to buy her couch, her efforts have been entirely unpaid and for others’ benefit. Though we endeavor to say our ‘thank you’s’, it really is such small words for such BIG things done with BIG heart, and since it is my firm belief that special occasions as we know them would cease to exist without her, the word ‘leadership’ is also fitting.

Sometimes greatness in life is like that corner lamp in your childhood home that you inherited from your grandparents…It’s been there so long, so steadfastly, that you forget that you are in its presence or how it illuminates all that is important and sacred in its unique light—the kind of thing you don’t miss until some jerk turns it off and everyone shouts simultaneously, “TURN THAT LAMP BACK ON. We can’t see the puzzle.” So to my amazing sister and all others like her who embody true servant leadership in their homes and families, it is an honour and a pleasure to share in the light of your greatness. Thank you… Again.

For: B

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