Serving others should be a priority over serving ourselves; I know, this is much easier said than done. I remember one of the first times I was robbed by the poor. I had been asked almost begged by friends to open up an office in Managua, Nicaragua. They said that the poor were needy and that they needed organizations like ours to come and help.
I somewhat, humbly, naively, and ignorantly agreed to come and help. What does helping look like, or said differently what does serving look like? Honestly, like most dreamers I thought we were coming to save the day and as we did we would be loved and not to deflect responsibility for the things that happened, deep down part of the motivation was really, “all about me”. (This is why it is so important to search the motivations of the heart.)
Here is how we started off, the lawyer who had been recommended to us, who we were told supported the ideals of our charity, robbed us, the government made it extremely challenging for us to open our doors, the banks refused to deal with us, our leadership team (volunteers) dispersed because everyone wanted to be the leader, and then those that stayed said they couldn’t volunteer they needed to be paid. A number of the women that approached us for loans, had made up their minds that in no way were they ever going to repay them. Some people took us to their homes to show us how their little business was going to be run. What we found out later was that it was not their house at all and after we had lent them the money they disappeared.
I get the Robin Hood story and I loved it, steal from the rich and give to the poor, but what happens to Robin’s serving attitude (motivation) when the poor start robbing him? Does he give up serving? Does he become disillusioned? Does he walk away? The answer is yes, if it was all about Robin Hood and what Robin needed and Robin having his ego stroked.
But if it about others, serving, and helping them, then the answer is no.
I was told by a wise councillor that I would never know true charity until I had been robbed four or five times. I get that now. What I am not postulating is that we let people run over us or that we become door mats; At The Lending Journey, we have learned to be wiser and more astute about who we are lending money too. I am not as naive as I used to be and we try to be discerning about who we lend to and who we do not lend to. (Thankfully, even with the high degree of risk that we take, over 80% of our borrowers commit to repaying their loans. These are women who slug it out, who get up early every morning, who fight the deep challenges of a very hard life, who keep their word.) For me I will decided not to walk away, I am thankful that I am being given an opportunity to learn what it really means to be a servant leader. What about you?
How do you serve your employees, your customers and your families?
- Study your motives. If they are more focussed around you than others make a few minor adjustments.
- If you’re an employee, ask how you can better serve my company. Avoid the question, “What have you done for me lately?”
- If you’re a parent, spend more time with your children asking them questions and truly listening. Take your kids out to breakfast, listen and be active in their dreams for their lives.
- If you’re an employer, your responsibilities are ever greater. You exist to serve the needs of your employees and your customers. What a battle it is to keep this in perspective, your wants versus others’ needs. This is where trust and loyalty begin.
The greatest of all servant leaders I think was Jesus Christ. He preached an upside-down model. Essentially he said that man has not been given power so that he may be better served, he has been given power so that he may serve better.
I leave you with this final quote from Mahatma Gandhi:
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”