One of the greatest paradoxes of leadership is: The greatest leader will be the greatest servant. There is no dichotomy between leader and servant, in reality they are synonymous. A real leader is a genuine servant.
There are many who have assumed the title “leader” today in business, media, and political America. They’ve spray painted it on the choice parking spots, stenciled it on doors, plastered it across websites and Facebook, and embossed it on letter heads and calling cards, but they are the only ones who think they are leaders. A leader has followers. If you can hear clearly the chirping of crickets as you march through your achievements pursuing your goals, it is likely no one is following you. And—if there’s no one following you, regardless of what your card, website, or signage says, you are not a leader.
Leading is an honor that is earned by serving others regardless of whether or not those you serve ever follow you. Leaders serve regardless of whether their service is received, appreciated, or acknowledged. Service bends the knee and the back, joining those who grease the gears, shovel the nasty stuff, and sweat genuine sweat. True servants, who lead, are not afraid to bend low, wade through the muck, or lift up a fallen comrade. And in their service, they rise to leadership.
Leaders are not born—they are developed over time as they grow through their willingness to serve others. Leadership is not a gift or a talent—it is earned through serving. If you are unwilling to do what you would ask or expect another to do—you are not fit to lead!
Titles are sold cheap and positions often go to the bidder willing to pay the asking price. Honor, respect, and trust are not commodities bought or traded on the market. They are the warp and the weave of the invisible fabric that protects and promotes a true leader. High character, strong morals, and unwavering beliefs are the enduring resources of a genuine leader. Standards don’t change when the cultural or political winds do. Leaders don’t lead by checking the wind—they lead by drawing strength from who they are and what they believe. Leaders are not swayed by the wind—they stand fast in the face of the wind.
We desperately need some leaders, men and women, who are more interested in serving others than achieving their personal agendas or the agendas of those who’ve paid for their offices and appointments. We don’t need Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, black or white, male or female, or a thousand other things competing for dominance in a country slowly swirling its way down, around and aroun in the toilet bowl of history. We need leaders who will serve. When the servant leaders arise, rest assured—the rest will follow. Otherwise, we will disappear and fade into pages of history along with all the other causes, groups, and nations who were led by “leaders” who would not serve!
Show me a person willing to serve anyone at anytime and I will show you a man or women destined to lead!