Spirit of Servant Leadership

by Cheryl Broetje, Founder and President

We’ve been thinking lately, “how do we rouse the spirit when it is dormant, hiding, afraid?” During prolonged times of disruption and loss like these, the number of people suffering has increased. As a philanthropic organization, we must realize that the need for emotional healing may be more urgent and important than keeping up or starting new programs…If we can just rouse the spirit.

original painting by Shikuku, Kenya

Robert Greenleaf referred to those who nurture the human spirit as “spirit carriers.” We are to carry this spirit with us as our operating system, our source of power and life-giving energy. According to a research paper entitled “Healing a Broken Spirit: Role of Servant Leadership,” Jit, Sharma and Kawatra (2017) have come to believe that “the healing of suffering colleagues is the most powerful skill required by an effective leader.” They describe a three-part process: 1) notice suffering and listen carefully for understanding, to both the outer voice and the inner voice; 2) create a culture of care and compassion, and empathize with the suffering through calming and comfort, guidance and counseling; and 3) upon reflection, choose a response that takes personal responsibility and provides social, emotional, financial and administrative support for helping to restore emotional balance.

Recently we have been studying some of the stories (parables) Jesus told to communicate important principles and truths to his followers. This week we studied the parable of the 10 Virgins. Five of the virgins were wise… they made sure their lamps always had oil. When they went out they took extra oil with them. They carried their oil (symbolizing the Holy Spirit) with them at all times — hence they literally “carried” the spirit with them as spirit carriers!

The other 5 virgins were foolish. They forgot to buy extra oil before the wedding. Wouldn’t you just know, the bridegroom in the story (Jesus) was late getting there! So…they burned up all the oil they had while waiting for him to show up! When the bridegroom did finally show up to take them to the wedding, they were out buying more oil. Before they left, they had asked the 5 wise virgins if they could share their oil, but they said no. So, by the time the other five showed up at the wedding feast, the doors were locked. The Lord told them he did not know them.

That seems so cruel! But commentators say that the oil is a symbol for the presence, the protection, or the anointing and activation of the Spirit as a sign of belonging and being commissioned by God for important works of healing and wholeness. This spirit is not transferrable! Each one must choose whether to be a spirit carrier or not. Love is the key.

There is a small poem by Rumi, that reminds me that healing is possible if we are obedient to the direction and counsel of the spirit.

I called through your door,

“The mystics are gathering in the street. Come out!”

Leave me alone, I’m sick.”

“I don’t care if you’re dead! Jesus is here, and he wants to resurrect somebody!”


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