The Servant is a book about a businessman named John Daily whose life seems to be going well from the surface. He has a great job. He has 2 wonderful children with his wife, “The Shrink”, a great house, and all of the material things most people could want and more. But, with all of this, he realizes that his life is not at all that it appears to be. His wife is unhappy with their marriage, the children are out of control, and his plant that he is in charge of is demanded change by asking for a labor union to represent them. John knew that he needed change in his life and quickly, so he decides to go to week-long spiritual retreat at a remote Benedictine monastery. This is where John’s life will change forever.
John meets a monk Brother Simeon, a former Wall Street business executive that will lead them though this journey. Additionally, the name Simeon has been synonymous with John’s baptism in the Lutheran church as a child, and a name that has haunted his dreams throughout his life. Simeon teaches them what it means to be a servant leader. The first idea that is brought to the attendees attention is what it the difference between leading with power and what it means in leading with authority. He explains that leading with power is forcing people into doing something because of their position. On the other side, leading with authority is getting people to willingly do things for you because of the leaders influence. Simeon continues to explain to the group that through authority, “leadership is accomplishing the tasks at hand while building relationships.”
Simeon talks about the old paradigm of leadership where the employees are at the bottom of the pyramid. In this model, it illustrates that as you move up the pyramid there are the supervisors, the middle managers, the VP’s, and then the CEO at the top. In this model, the front line people who deal with the customer the most are furthest away. What Simeon does, is turns the pyramid upside down with the employees at the top and closest to the customer and the CEO is at the bottom, a leader that should be willing to serve.
With the paradigm shift in place, Simeon uses the upside down model to describe the servant leadership model. At the bottom of the pyramid is will, and then love, moving up is service and sacrifice, authority, and leadership at the top. The first part of this model is will. He explains that Intentions + Actions = Will. As Simeon explains to the students, that a person intentions must line up with their actions, that’s “why will is at the apex of the triangle.” When a leader has the will, he can choose love, the verb that describes ones behavior towards another, not the feeling. Once the leader has love, they can progress to service and sacrifice. Through service and sacrifice, the leader can build the authority that is needed to influence his people. Once they have the authority, they can be a true leader in the sense of servant leadership.
In the next session, Simeon explains to them that the true qualities of a servant leadership can be achieved through agape love. He wrote down this list and compared it to the list the students used to describe people that lead them through authority in their lives. His list was as follows:
1. Patient – showing self-control.
2. Kind – giving attention, appreciation, and encouragement.
3. Humble – being authentic without pretense or arrogance.
4. Respectful – treating others as important people.
5. Selfless – meeting the needs of others.
6. Forgiving – giving up resentment when wronged.
7. Honest – being free from deception.
8. Committed – sticking to your choices.
These qualities of character will allow a leader to serve and sacrifice for others by extending themselves. As they set aside their own wants and needs and focus on the needs of others, this is what the true meaning of love, the verb. Lastly, Simeon explains to them that with the knowledge that they have received over the week,