Thursday, October 15, 2009

To Lead is to Serve -- and to Serve is to Succeed: the Teaching of James C. Hunter

"Making our world different -- that's how we raise our leadership game; it doesn't happen reading books or watching videos or going to seminars. We've got to get in the game that is worked out in the crucible of our choices." 
~James C. Hunter, The Servant Leadership Training Course
Jim Hunter talks about the elements of leadership:  Courage, Compassion and Character, all of which, he says in many ways, must be played out and developed in action, in the course of experience.  Leadership, he says, is about influence.

We agree.  It's not about standing at the head of a crowd, alone, imperious, forging ahead and hoping the throng continues to drag along behind you.  It's about engaging in that sea of humanity, entering the human arena, getting messy, getting our hands in it, walking alongside another, who might be suffering.  Influence, after all, is not about acting in solitary, but about other people, about acting in concert with them and having an effect upon their behavior, their choices, their feelings and their lives.

This is not an easy task, especially for young people emerging from adolescence and entering a harsh and demanding world.  If you're from America, or influenced at all by American products (our greatest export being, of course, our image, usually packaged in the form of motion picture entertainment), then you are conditioned to care first about "ME."  Generations that came up after me (the oldest director at SLI who for the moment shall remain comfortably nameless) were even labeled with cute names like "Generation X," and "the ME generation."  We sneered at the folly of these youth, forgetting that we were wholly to blame for having created them, conditioned them and turned them out without having equipped them.

Ok, I'm generalizing.

But I really like what Jim Hunter says about the whole idea of putting self first, which he considers to be age-appropriate behavior for two-year-olds ("Me first!!"):
"Emotional and spiritual growth, according to Scott Peck, is getting over your twos, and growing up and recognizing that it's not about me anymore, and to start extending ourselves for other people.  This is what character is.  It's not something we're born with -- developing our character is a life long journey."
He goes on to suggest that, when we meet the true needs of other people -- when we truly care about serving other people and identifying and meeting their legitimate needs, our "inner child," or our sense of our own innocence, our rightness with the world, will be just fine, will thrive.

Be blessed as you bless others.


  1. Do you know the book "To Lead is to Serve -- how to attract volunteers & keep them"? It could help you to attract more people to help your great mission.

    A blurb on the cover is from a minister who went from 80 members to over 300 using this philosophy and book.

  2. Thank you for suggesting it, Shar, we will check it out!