SERVANT-‘BEST TEST’ REVISITED, PART IV. . .

You can quit your job but you can’t quit your calling. –Lissa Rankin

Good morning, Gentle Reader.  I concluded PART III with this: …it appears as if we have three more questions to respond to, for this first statement.  So let us continue. . .  As a reminder, here is Greenleaf’s final iteration (1980) 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.

Here are the three questions I left us with last time; this morning we will focus on the first of these:

What are the implications of the phrase ‘while being served’?
What does it mean for one to ‘become healthier’?
Is ‘Serving’ one-directional or multi-directional?

What ae the implications of the phrase ‘while being served’?  For more than forty-five years now I have returned to this phrase, ‘while being served.’  ‘Growth’ is not just an immediate effect of ‘being served;’ the one being served ‘grows’ during the process of ‘being served.’  The implications of this are numerous; here are a few of them.

  • When I serve I hold an intention that the one served will have an opportunity to ‘grow.’ I cannot guarantee that the other will grow; I can provide him/her an opportunity to do so.
  • I consciously hold five dimensions when I serve; my intention is to seek to nurture one or more of these as I serve the highest priority needs of the other(s) [Greenleaf counsels the servant to serve the highest priority needs of the other].
  • I call the five dimensions: P.I.E.S.S. I seek to intentionally provide the one being served an opportunity to nurture (more than deplete) one or more of these dimensions and I invite the one being served to discern and embrace how he/she might nurture more than deplete each dimension.  The five dimensions: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spirit(ual), and Social (think: Relationships – first the relationship one has with one’s self and then the relationship one has with the ‘other’).
  • The experience can be brief – a smile, a recognition of the person as a fully human being (an aboriginal tribe in Australia greets one another with ‘I see you.’ A wonder-full, humanizing way of acknowledging the presence of the other).  The experience can occur over time as it does when I am serving those who participate in my ‘work-treats’ (part workshop and part retreat).

My commitment – to myself and to those I serve – involves my being awake, aware, intentional and purpose-full as I strive to serve the highest priority needs of the other(s).   

Our life is what our thoughts make it. –Marcus Aurelius

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