on Serving

“The greatest virtues are those which are most useful to other persons.” Aristotle (384-322 BC), Greek philosopher

Last week I watched the memorial service held in Tucson for the victims murdered at the hand of a deranged psychopath. As I watched, I grew more and more uncomfortable with the tone and demeanor of the event. While the President’s speech seemed to call to task the angry and illogical accusations from one side of the political aisle, I was extremely disappointed in that he still allowed a memorial service to turn into thinly veiled campaign rally. The cheers, whoops, “I love you” catcalls, and even some boos of the speakers from the audience (Arizona Governor Brewer was booed), seemed not only in poor taste but beyond inappropriate to the reason behind the event. Can we not even keep our petty politics out of an event meant to honor the dead? Tell me, when was the last time you went to a memorial service and left with a free T-shirt?

I know that some have said that everyone grieves in different ways, but the only people there that were truly grieving in that crowd were the families of the victims. How was a memorial service such as this serving the needs of the families, helping them to heal? Were they even consulted? I wonder, considering the fact that many of them looked uncomfortable crying in front of such a boisterous crowd. I wonder, considering the fact that the faiths of the victims were either Christian or Jewish, yet no priest, minister, or rabbi was asked to be present or give the opening prayer. Instead the school asked a Native American professor, who was not even a recognized spiritual leader by his own tribe, to give the prayer in a manner representative of his own faith.  One has to ask oneself, whom was this memorial service truly serving? Did any of these people really understand what it means to serve another?

A true servant puts the rights of others above their own rights. A true servant would know how to minster to the hurting in a way that makes them feel best, not what he thinks is best.  A true servant would have recognized the importance of the victims’ faiths as a step in their healing process, and given those the priority at the memorial, no matter his own belief system or desire to be politically correct. A true servant uses words and acts of love and healing, being a shelter from the noise of the world, as those grieving work through the shattering of their own.  A true servant would have removed any whiff of a political rally from a memorial event, so as to make sure the focus remained on victims and their families, instead of the personalities of the speakers.  In short, a true servant has no agenda other than that of those they serve.

A true leader knows that in order to effectively lead, they must know how to serve.  They know how to lower themselves in order to lift their people up. They know how to set aside their own needs, agenda, rights, status, and pride so they can truly represent those they serve. Unfortunately, our country suffers from a lack of leadership because we sorely lack people who know how to truly serve. It is not about what is good for you, or what you feel may be good for another, it is about what the other person thinks is good for themselves. 

As a Christian, my faith encourages me to always have a servant’s heart. As a human being, I struggle like everyone else to put others needs ahead of my own. Even so, I hope to see our leaders embrace the same such struggle. The American people are longing for those great statesmen that will.

“The road to perdition has ever been accompanied by lip service to an ideal.” Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German physicist

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