We don’t tend to talk very much about Pope John Paul I. That is hardly surprising: He was Pope for little over a month before he died. But someone did mention him in my hearing recently. During a Mass sermon, the presider observed that whenever John Paul I met someone – whether the person was a dignatory or humble laborer – his first words were “How May I Serve you?”
How may I serve you? Sadly, this is not something we hear all the time from our leaders – not our church leaders or our political leaders.
Yet, for Christians, “how may I serve you?” is a question that should fall easily from all of our tongues, especially those of our leaders. Jesus is our prime model of servant leadership – in washing the feet of his disciples, he wanted us to understand that greatness in God’s sight is not found in how many people serve us, but rather in how faithfully we serves others. The objective taught by Jesus is not to be served, but to serve.
It may help us better serve if we remember that our service originates in our loving relationship to God. All of us – leaders and otherwise – who call ourselves disciples give ourselves over to a leadership that is greater than our own – to God. (Again, Jesus is the model here. Jesus never claimed to do anything on his own. Always he was clear that he was doing the will of the Father and that what he did he did through the power of the Father.)
Let us be leaders. But let us be servant leaders, being attentive to how we may serve those we encounter.