Greenleaf writes: This is an interesting word, healing, with its meaning ‘to make whole.’ …it is always something sought. …one who enters the person-team relationship as an intervenor who seeks to make it better by his presence, might better see his own healing as his motivation. There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served if, explicit in the compact with the one who serves is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share. And, it is a never ending search. . .
Two of the books that have stimulated, and continue to stimulate, my thinking and challenge me are Henri Nouwen’s classic ‘The Wounded Healer’ (which I was given to me by my mentor Lowell in 1973) and Parker J. Palmer’s ‘A Hidden Wholeness.’
Because I am an imperfect human being I am always in the process of ‘healing’ – of ‘making whole.’ For me there are two elements to this process. One involves ‘healing’ in the sense of seeking forgiveness, reconciliation and healing the ‘wound’ (delivered or received). The other involves the concept of our seeking to live a life that is not ‘divided’ and to live as a fully human being – a being that is not divided. For me, this second idea involves a person seeking to connect (‘weave together in a seamless whole’ is one image I hold) the four dimensions that contribute to making us ‘fully human beings.’ These four dimensions are our Physical Dimension, our Intellectual Dimension, our Emotional Dimension and our Spirit(ual) Dimension – our P.I.E.S.
For Greenleaf the servant-first human being seeks to serve the highest priority needs of the other in a way that the other ‘grows as a person’ as a direct result AND the servant-first in serving also seeks to engender ‘healing’ in his or her own being (either ‘healing’ from a ‘wound’ or ‘healing’ in the sense of ‘making whole’). A motivation to serve involves a motivation for self-healing.
For me, this means that servant-leadership is not a self-sacrificial model/concept. The servant-first does not simply sacrifice him/herself for the healing and growth of the other. The servant-first seeks to make sure that his/her ‘healing’ (in one or both of the senses I mentioned earlier) is also a ‘high priority need.’
The servant-first is called to embrace both his/her own healing while embracing the healing of the other. For me, Henri Nouwen captures this idea in ‘The Wounded Healer’ when he writes: The great illusion is to think that a man can be lead out of the desert by someone who has never been there.