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Serving in the Age of Entitlement

October 19, 2021
By Covenant Staff

After spending much time learning about the various styles of leadership, being a servant-leader best aligns with what we do as educators at Covenant.  One of my favorite resources is The Leader’s Companion: Insight on Leadership through the Ages (Wren, 1995).  In his book, Wren highlights practicing moral leadership and how modeling unity, truthfulness, and accountability builds solid teams.  Servant leadership supports this idea but takes it further by pointing out that a good leader, first and foremost must be a servant, therefore gaining the trust of followers.  The servant-leader serves to help others grow in character, but the hope is that in serving, we help others to become healthier, wiser, responsible, independent, and more likely to become servants themselves.  All very much like the example given to us through the life of Christ.  

How do we relay the importance of service and being servant-leaders when society promotes entitlement and the power of “Me”? 

As a parent, I would observe other parents and their children.  One co-worker of my husband’s had exceptionally respectful, kind, and successful children.  When asked what his secret to parenting was, he responded, “The word no.  And I used it often”.  That stayed with me.  Sounds simple enough to be sure, but when faced with the many demands of work and maintaining a balance, it is easy for the word no to get lost in compromise and negotiation, which tends to promote the self-interest of those asking.  I wondered, should the word no be accompanied by an explanation of my decision?  The answer to that is also no.  As parents and teachers, we are charged with the responsibility of character development.  This means we are “on” all the time.  In the words of one of our graduating students, “there are no days off”.  This couldn’t be truer, especially when trying to combat entitlement.  Negotiating and compromising when our initial response was “no”, sends mixed messages of loopholes and a battle of wills. 

How then, do we remediate this rapidly spreading epidemic of entitlement? 

In addition to healthy doses of the word “no”, it is teaching our kids the value of serving, and becoming servant leaders in their own right.  We do this at Covenant by beginning with empathy.  Teaching empathyhelps students to look outside themselves and seek to understand the feelings and experiences of others.  Our buddy days exemplify this as our big buddies take care of and guide their little buddies throughout different school activities.  In our classrooms, we teach the children how to respond to one another, as Christ would want, using the Fruit of the Spirit as a guide, particularly for our younger students.  For our older students, service hours, volunteer opportunities, and topics taught during chapel promote servant-leadership with a focus on Christ’s example.    

With all this considered, the real goal is to let them see that they are part of something bigger than just themselves, we are fostering social change that has eternal blessings as being a part of God’s army.  Serving as a collective group breaks down entitlement and transfers the power of “me” to the power of “us”.  Service requires equal amounts of leading and following, and discerning when to apply each role.  Through this, we help guide our students to be leaders and have the confidence to serve humbly and with a purpose.

 

Posted in Servant Leadership

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