To refuse to examine the assumptions one lives by is immoral. –Robert K. Greenleaf

Gentle Reader, if you have been following my blog these past years you will have noticed or read a number of postings that alluded to or directly addressed Greenleaf’s Best Test for the Servant.

Recently I was re-reading for the umpteenth time Greenleaf’s 1980 essay, Servant: Retrospect & Prospect.  Near the end of this essay Greenleaf offers us what I believe is his final iteration of his Best Test for the Servant (his first published iteration appeared in his 1969 essay – the ‘inspired’ essay, the one he wrote for and addressed to college-university student leaders – The Servant as Leader).  During the next 11 years additional iterations or parts of his Best Test would be offered to us for our consideration.

So, without further ado, here is Greenleaf’s 1980 iteration of his Best Test for the Servant:

Do those being served grow as persons: do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?  And what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will she or he benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?  No one will knowingly be hurt by the action, directly or indirectly.

Gentle Reader, this morning I invite you to read and re-read Greenleaf’s Best Test and to reflect upon his words and the implications they might hold for you and for us.  Beginning next time, I will offer some of what has emerged into my consciousness as I read, re-read, held, savored and reflected upon Greenleaf’s final iteration of his Best Test.

When is serving potentially immoral? –Robert K. Greenleaf





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