In PART I I began to reflect upon Greenleaf’s ‘Best Test’ and today, Gentle Reader, I will continue my reflection. Greenleaf’s test opens with: Do those served grow as persons. . . In my first reflection I focused on the individual, today I will invite you, Gentle Reader, to consider additional ‘persons.’
I serve individuals AND I also serve relationships of two or more individuals. So, for example, I serve each relationship I am part of — a friendship with another, a working relationship I may have with another, the relationship I have with each of my children (now adults), etc. I am also served by the other in each of these relationships. So, each of us is served as individuals and the relationship is also served and, so, if we are served well then each of us grows and so does the relationship.
This also holds for the family (‘family’ is defined differently by different folks and so I will not attempt to offer ‘one’ definition for family — it does seem to me that if one is a member of a family that one will know this). Now a family is a bit more complicated. Let us say, for example, that there are four members of a family. Each individual is entrusted with a relationship with each member; if I am correct in my math (and don’t bet on it) there are six dyadic relationships in a family of four AND there is also the family as a whole. So, as a result of serving and being served does each individual, each relationship and the family as a whole grow?
Organizations (i.e. any organized group of two or more folks) are simply individuals and relationships writ large and so they too become part of the ‘Best Test.’ Within these organizations there might well be teams, or departments, or divisions or. . .And so within these each person, each dyad and the entity as a whole are — or are not — served. And if they are served well then growth will occur.
What growth? Consider that for each of the examples above (and these are not the only ones possible) Physical growth, Intellectual growth, Emotional growth, and Spirit(ual) growth becomes part of the mix. There is also the additional dimension of Social growth. For each of these dimensions the question of whether they are nurtured more than they are depleted becomes significant. Specifically, in what ways are they nurtured and in what ways are they depleted? Over time, one of these will occur more frequently than the other (it is not possible to be ‘neutral’ — there is always nurturance or depletion occurring). Over time, each of the above will either grow in one or more of these dimensions and over time each of the above will also be depleted in one or more of these dimensions. Nature teaches us that growth requires renewal and so it is for us humans who are also natural beings. However, too often individuals, relationships and organizations do not take the time to renew — how many folks have been ‘used up’ and ‘burnt out’ in one or more of the dimensions? What has been the effect on individuals, relationships and organizations as a result? How is it that we can claim that we are serving others (and ourselves) well when we refuse to take the time to renew? This continues to puzzle me.
Gentle Reader, when have you as an individual, as a member of a dyad and/or as a member of an organization engaged in a renewal process (I am speaking of a process, not of a ‘one-off’ experience)? Nature shows us that renewal must occur, at minimum, annually if growth is going to continue to occur and we are natural beings and so. . . In the United States we spend more than 60 billion dollars a year on stress-related issues (burnout and depression being the major ones). What would happen if we took the time to renew, how would this affect the amount spend each year?
Gentle Reader, I invite you to consider again and again and again Greenleaf’s question: ‘Do those served grow as persons. . .’