Servant leadership: Not a new concept

ServantLeadership_200As the Christian world approaches Easter, the scriptures that are read center more and more on Jesus in his final days, as he traveled and taught, working closely with his disciples and followers. A favorite reading at this time of year is the story, written by John the Apostle in his gospel, about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples gathered for the passover meal. (In those days, most travel was on foot, and the roads were dusty, meaning that a day’s labors or journey left one’s feet filthy dirty. Those who were better off had servants to give the evening foot baths.) When one, Simon Peter, protests, Jesus explains that Peter and the others don’t understand why he, the teacher and lord, is doing the work ordinarily done by servants, but soon it becomes clear:

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

Thus we are introduced to one of the earliest recorded examples of servant leadership. Continue reading “Servant leadership: Not a new concept”

Training, advising and assisting

Afghan veterans celebrateFor the past eleven-plus years, the United States military has been engaged in warfare in the mountainous Asian nation of Afghanistan, assisting the Afghan forces in defending against the Taliban. Politics aside, many observers have been looking forward to an end to US involvement. Chiefly among them are families of our fighting men and women, many of whom were Scouts as youth.

Within the last few days, President Obama announced his intention to pursue an accelerated withdrawal of fighting forces from Afghanistan. No longer would American troops be fighting the battles; rather, most will come home, and for those who remain, their role will be one of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces as they engage in combat against their country’s insurgents. Continue reading “Training, advising and assisting”

“My job is just to ask questions”

Restaurant ImpossibleEvery week, the Food Network runs a show called Restaurant Impossible. In the show, chef Robert Irvine makes a whirlwind two-day visit to a failing restaurant to try to determine why it’s failing and to take corrective action. His designers fix the decor while he fixes not only the kitchen and the menu, but more importantly, the staff and owners as well.

A recent episode had Chef Robert and his crew at a steakhouse which has been losing money for several years. In going over the books, he notices financial discrepancies that could be the result of mismanagement or, worse, theft. Continue reading ““My job is just to ask questions””

Who has the keys?

One of the unique properties of the Boy Scout program is that it is boy-led. It’s not a program where adults put together activities that the youth members merely participate in. When properly done, and when adults don’t inappropriately usurp their authority, the Scouts plan and lead their own program within the boundaries of Scouting.

In one of his podcasts, Scoutmaster Clarke Green likened this to a game of basketball. The players play the game but they do so according to the rules of the game. And the coaches cannot step across the line and play the game for them.

Recently, there was a thread on one of the discussion groups where the topic drifted over to whether the boys actually take charge. “We never really give them the keys,” Continue reading “Who has the keys?”