What I have learned about Servant Leadership
The last blog I wrote, I talked about serving your spouse. In the past month and a half since I last wrote a blog, I realize that to serve your spouse, you must have a heart of servant leadership. And ANYONE, married or not, can have a heart of servant leadership. In fact, my greatest lesson on servant leadership this past month did not come from my husband, or my pastor, or anyone that one (an adult, anyway) would typically think of learning from. The best form of servant leadership was shown to me in a not-yet sixteen year old cheerleader.
Of all my many jobs and titles I have, one of the most trying, challenging, and yet absolutely rewarding is that of High School Cheer Coach. When I started 2 years ago, I had all these grand ideas of how far I'd take the team, which is my high school Alma Mater. I thought I'd not only teach the girls great cheerleading skills and how to develop their leadership qualities, but also how to be great young ladies and better human beings. Here's the thing though, while I do believe I have had some influence on a couple of them, I realize that the greatest influence comes from within the team, their peers. And this past month, I had the honor to watch a servant leader, a TRUE servant leader, emerge. And I have learned a great deal from her.
As an adult, who is a teacher by profession, I can honestly tell you that often I forget how much our students really do teach us. I think one of our biggest, most authentic and real resources we rarely tap into is that which can be learned from young adults and children. So often, I witness these young adults and children truly speak and do from their HEART. Their innocence, their simplicity in integrity, their desire to truly love and care for others because they have not yet been hurt, betrayed, or lost trust, is breath-taking and beautiful. It is something I wish to capture and hang onto forever. And it is my wish to have these students- young adults and children- understand the true gift they possess.
Servant Leadership, for those who may wonder what that is, simply put is, "The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first." In the 1970's, a man by the name of Robert Greenleaf capitalized on the idea of Servant Leadership for business, education, and social leaders. However, the most famous servant leader that I can easily tell you about is Jesus Christ. Matthew 20:26-28 says, "But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Young adults and children are not looking to be great, to be better than the person next to them. They just simply love and care, sometimes naturally humbling themselves to do a task no one else wants to do, or work harder than anyone else, just because that's what they believe is good and right.
So, this past month, I was blessed beyond belief. I have had the opportunity to know, teach, and now coach this young lady for almost four years. I have always been aware of her heart for others, recognizing her compassion for those around her, regardless if they were friends, strangers, staff members, or adults. I've seen her grow from a child to a young woman. However, this past month, I have watch a servant leader truly emerge, showing me the type of person I WANT TO BE. She is the first person to jump to a task that seems daunting, she continually gives positive encouragement and support, she smiles when in pain, shows grace to those around her, and quietly grabs a broom to sweep up messes that are left behind. This is always done in a manner where she does not draw attention to herself, yet still has the ability to lead others to follow her. (and yet, she is not even aware she does all this!) And that is the person I want to be. To quietly be a servant leader. To serve others first without drawing attention to myself, while allowing others to gain confidence in themselves to continue doing good. Leading by serving. Developing good in others by being the good myself.
By watching our young people, we can learn so much and apply it to our own lives. And then, hopefully, help our young people understand just how beautifully important they are and to hold true to who they are now, not letting the darkness of the world take away any of their Light. These children and young adults, they are our future. They WILL lead us.
Stacie Stoney of StacieStoneyCoaching is a middle school teacher, a mommy, a wife, a Christian counselor and life coach specializing in marriage, family, and positivity, and yes, a high-school varsity cheer coach! Contact StacieStoneyCoaching today for more information on how you can serve others, create purpose in your life, or just to say hi and make a new friend! God is good all the time!