Servant Leadership and the Immigration Debate


By Luke Hallowell

First off, we want to share that our views are possibly a bit biased. Here at the Center for Sharing, we’ve been beneficiaries of the hard labor of immigrants, and are intentionally located in an immigrant community. Without the generosity of Broetje Orchards and the wonderful people who work there—many of whom are immigrants, the Center for Sharing probably wouldn’t exist and certainly wouldn’t be able to do much of the work we do today. Having said that, we also recognize that we live in a city that is nearly 30 percent immigrant and often find our community is divided and misinformed on the issues of immigration.


Here in our local Tri-Cities community, the divided state of our nation on this issue became very apparent when candidate Loren Nichols ran for city council and proposed that undocumented immigrants should be shot at the border or be put to death—a statement that defies the rule of law this country was built on. To our surprise he still received twenty seven percent of the votes in that election and took 2nd place. As an organization dedicated to developing servant leaders, we’d like to take a hard look at what servant leadership has to teach us about how we should respond to the dilemma facing our country.


Robert Greenleaf’s test of servant leadership, which is difficult to administer in many situations, states the following:


“Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”


We believe simply applying this test to the immigration debate helps bring a great deal of clarity to what our leaders should do. However, many of these immigrants have been dehumanized and alienated to the point that many don’t believe this test should apply to them. That somehow they don’t deserve the opportunity to be served, to grow, to become healthier, wiser, freer or more autonomous. They are referred to as “illegals,” as if they mere existence is against the law.


What would be the best way to ensure the immigrants who live here grow as people? Should we deport them all? Should we shoot them at the border, as Mr. Nichols suggests? Or should we care about them– where they are from and why they are here?  Should we alienate them and deprive them of their rights? Or should we see how we can be a part of their growth as families and individuals? The answers to these questions will determine the future of our country.


We need your help. We believe this country is great because of our ability to discuss issues like immigration with civility and to find a way to make a world that works for everyone. We’d like to start a conversation about servant leadership and immigration, using the book “Welcoming the Stranger” as a guide to our discussion. If you’d like to be a part of that, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Luke by phone at 509.546.5999 or via email at We’d like to create a group of thoughtful servant leaders who can help this community, state and nation make wise choices with regards to the way we treat immigrants to our country.


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