power serve

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Here’s a quote from 30 years ago (that’s 1977 for those who aren’t good at math!) from Robert Greenleaf’s groundbreaking leadership book, Servant Leadership.  This book, at the time, cut against the grain of traditional, North American leadership structures by promoting a servant’s model rather than a top-down power model.  The book is geared for the business world, but it speaks a lot about the role of the church too.  Greenleaf is critical of the church’s failure in the middle of the twentieth century to appropriately live up to its calling of legitimacy in society as a leading voice.  He calls the church to commit itself to once again live with legitimate integrity and a servant’s heart to the world.  That’s a convicting word that many churches failed to heed in the last generation… and that many still pay no attention too.  However, there are those many others that did hear the calling to serve the world as Jesus did… and that actually did something about it.

"The churches, which once gave security and hope by presuming to mediate between God and human beings, continue to function this way even though many persons, including the faithful church attenders, now seek their values in their own experience.  As a consequence, the alienated and purposeless have multiplied to devastating proportions for want of sufficient value-shaping influence that once was the churches’ major role.  And the large human (and material) resources of churches seem to be groping for a way to serve." (Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, 67)

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