THE QUESTIONS WE ASK, PART I. . .

Good morning Gentle Reader.

Questions matter.  The Questions we ask help determine the path we take.  In his writings, Greenleaf offered us a number of crucial questions – questions that matter.  For me, one of the most powerful questions Greenleaf offers us to consider is: ‘When is serving potentially immoral?’

In 1975 I added a second question: ‘When IS serving immoral?’  I hold and consider both together and, Gentle Reader, I invite you to also hold and consider both together.

Definitions matter.  So now, Gentle Reader, I invite you to hold and consider the following:

Potentially’ = possibly, but not yet actually.

‘Possibly’ = perhaps, maybe.

 ‘Immoral’ = violating moral principles; not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted as consistent with principles of moral ethics.

 ‘Serving’ = See Greenleaf’s 1980 iteration of his ‘Best Test’ for the Servant.  [See my posting of 16 December, 2018 for this iteration.]

Definitions matter.  I could go on defining words/concepts – perhaps for pages.  What is crucial to note and remember is that the definition accepted determines the focus of our consideration.  The person whose definition is accepted has, at minimum influence and at maximum control or leverage.

Definitions matter.  And yet…  If we spend our time seeking to define words so that ALL accept and understand each definition I have a hunch that we will spend all of our time ‘seeking to define.’  What we do, of course, is ‘assume’ that we have a ‘general’ agreement as to what these words mean.  Conflict arises when we find that ‘acting on our assumed agreement’ reveals a lack of agreement (talk about confusing).

For our purposes, I invite us to hold the three definitions above and to hold Greenleaf’s ‘Best Test’ for the Servant.’  I will also add a fifth ‘consideration’ to hold:

Servants serve the highest priority needs of the other(s).  Greenleaf is clear about this.

This ‘serving commitment to high priority needs’ is crucial to keep in mind as we strive to seek to consider and respond to these two questions: ‘When is serving potentially immoral? ‘When IS serving immoral?’

Consider, Gentle Reader, that in order to engage these two questions we must, as Greenleaf notes, be awake and be aware in the ‘now’ in order to seek to understand.

My experience of myself and of others these past 44 years is that we are seldom awake and aware ‘now’.  We spend most of our intellectual time, for example, ruminating about the past or anticipating the future.  Even as I type these words, even as I strive to be awake, aware and in the ‘now’ at this moment, I am aware that my mind quickly wanders to the future; it is now 9:15am and I am to gather my daughter up at 9:50am.

So I find my mind wandering to: Can I finish this draft before I have to pack up and leave?  Should I stop now, think more about my topic and return later to once again put finger to key?  A father and young son just sat down next to me and so I spent a few minutes talking with them.  What does it mean to be awake and aware in the ‘now’?  I am, unlike others, not able to up the ante and write: to be fully present!  I don’t believe I have ever been fully present – I have, however, been fully distracted.

I have a high priority need to engage these two questions.  I am wondering how many of you, Gentle Readers, have a high priority need to also engage them?  Right now I am seeking to serve my high priority need and in doing so I might also be serving you.

Given all of this, I will, next time, respond to the two questions: ‘When is serving potentially immoral?’ ‘When IS serving immoral?’

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