The only journey is the one within. –Rainer Maria Rilke

Good morning Gentle Reader.  We have two more questions to respond to:

What does it mean for one to ‘become healthier’?
Is ‘Serving’ one-directional or multi-directional?

As a reminder, 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.

What does it mean for one to ‘become healthier’?  For Greenleaf there are a number of ‘Servants.’  The first is the individual.  The second is a collective of individuals; for Greenleaf two metaphors are crucial: a garden and a community.  The collective can be a Board of Trustees, or an organized group of two or more folks (a department, for example).  The third is the organization.  For Greenleaf an organization is a living organism.  Thus, all three can ‘become healthier.’  All three can also become ‘dis-eased.’

Gentle Reader, I invite you to keep in mind all three as I respond to the question, ‘What does it mean for one to ‘become healthier’?

Simply stated: ‘Healthier’ means that we nurture more than deplete the one being served (again, the ‘one’ can be an individual, an organized group of two or more and/or an organization).  Well, then, what is it, exactly, that we seek to nurture more than deplete?

Consider, Gentle Reader, that there are five dimensions that define the one being served.   I call these P.I.E.S.S.  There is a Physical Dimension, an Intellectual Dimension, an Emotional Dimension, a Spirit(ual) Dimension, and a Social (think: Relationship) Dimension.  For some, ‘Spirit’ resonates and for some ‘Spiritual’ resonates.  For me, I seek to honor both Dimensions.

‘Do those served become healthier?’  Consider these questions: How is each Dimension ‘served’ so that each is nurtured more than depleted?  What are some ways that each Dimension could be served (or is served) so that more nurturance rather than depletion occurs?  Does the one serving have ‘favorite’ ways of nurturing and favorite ways of depleting the one(s) being served?  What are these ‘favorite ways’?  In serving, is the one serving paying attention to and serving the other(s) ‘highest priority needs’[NOTE: For Greenleaf, serving the other(s) ‘highest priority needs’ is a major indicator that one is serving more than that one is ‘self-serving’.]

In serving, the one doing the serving cannot guarantee that more nurturance and less depletion will occur.  One can only be awake, aware, intentional and purpose-full in providing the opportunity for more nurturance and less depletion to occur.  The one being served must help identify the ‘highest priority needs’ and then choose to accept and embrace more nurturance and shun efforts at depletion.

Simply stated: ‘Serving’ involves a relationship between the one serving and the one being served.  Serving becomes, or borders on being, immoral when this relationship is not interdependent but dependent (how many times have folks said, ‘I was only trying to help’ when it was clear that the ‘help’ served the helper more than the one that was to be helped).

This opens the pathway to our next question: Is ‘Serving’ one-directional or multi-directional?  We will explore this next time and we will continue our exploration of Greenleaf’s ‘Best Test’: ‘…wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants.’ 

Leadership is a serious meddling in other people’s lives. –Max De Pree



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