Michael J. Readinger

There are so many great Serving Leadership quotes out in the world of our religious, spiritual and lay texts. They are all inspirational in their own ways. You may have noticed that each issue of Diakonie has a featured quote from someone in the CHHSM family. We recently requested more of these reflections on leadership from our Nollau Leadership Institute class and I encourage all our readers to submit one as well. As I reflect on what Serving Leadership means to me, I am drawn to a highly specific and personal definition of a term that is becoming more mainstream every year. Of course, I cannot help but relate my thoughts on this topic without a continued focus on gratitude and mindfulness. And scripture.

Specifically, Micah 6:8 (this is an easy one) and Isaiah 11: 1-9 (much more difficult) are shaping my thoughts as I write this.

In Micah 6:8 — “God has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does your God require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” — serving leadership is easily redacted to simply this: justice, mercy and humility. There is no need for credit or thanks when your leadership provides kindness, compassion and love. It is the service to God that one gives purely that will be received in a like matter. Someone may thank you, ignore your deed, take it for granted or even resent your action. But it does not matter. God is not concerned with what you do or what you give so much as why you do it. When you act out of your heart — with kindness, compassion and love, then you are heeding God’s call.

The vision of leadership described in Isaiah 11:1-9 tells us that if our actions are directed by our desire to serve the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the needy, and all the others who are vulnerable and powerless, then we are doing God’s work. This is the type of serving leader God showed us in Jesus’ life and ministry. No judgment, no quid pro quo, no thank you required, no debts owed, no pity given. Simply doing what is right for those who may need some love, support, mercy, kindness, compassion, grace and fairness.

In all fairness to the secular research and lay writings about Serving Leadership, there is a great deal of validity in the style of leadership they describe and which we talk about in our Nollau Leadership Institute and Nollau To You retreats. Today, I am thinking more about the spiritual calling and faith motivation for acting in a certain way whether you are a missionary, a nonprofit leader, a pastor, or a Fortune 500 CEO.

So, my reflection on Serving Leadership is this: “Serve God from your heart and your service will be purely given and received regardless of what people say, think or feel. That is what God calls us to do, that is what the world needs, and that is the true reward of Serving Leadership.”