Author: Shelly Slaughter, Cumby ISD Superintendent (Last read: LEAD…for God’Sake! by Todd G. Gongwer)
“Love, Serve, Lead…#FindYourJoy”, this is something that I have thought about a lot over the past few years. I have always touted myself as a servant leader, and still believe that my intention is to be a servant leader. As I continue my readings and studying on leadership, and in reading LEAD…for God’Sake!, I realized that although I strive to be a true servant, I am not certain that I am the best servant I can be. I question if I am a servant leader daily and when I am serving, do I remember who I am serving for and can others see who I am serving for? Am I serving to receive some worldly recognition, or am I truly serving to serve? Is my service about the betterment of others or myself? In reflecting, I do know that leadership is about service, and service comes from the heart. If our hearts are right and we have done the “heart-work”, this is when we make lifelong impacts. As real servant leaders, we should wholeheartedly love others, forget about our own stuff, and focus on other’s needs. Our leadership is defined by the example we set and our actions and words. We must inspire and motivate and shift from being self-centered to being others centered. It is all about being who we are meant to be, not about doing what we are meant to do.
The heart is the lifeblood of everything else. If we lead for personal worldly gain and are selfishly motivated, it may work for a while; however, it eventually ends in failure. We are in amazing positions to influence so many, how we approach our “duties”, influences how others approach theirs’. Influence is not of comfort and status, but of connection and compassion. Leading with heart and loving others is so much more than a feeling; loving others is an action, showing compassion, and showing true care for others well-being even when we do not know them. We should learn the hearts of people and realize that we are all in each other’s lives for a reason, a reason central to our purpose. Passion should follow our commitment to our purpose.
LOVE – Love starts with loving ourselves and loving what we do and why we do it, and who we do it with. We must move past ourselves, and know that caring about people is a decision, it can transform our lives, and a life of love allows us to live beyond amazing. Love hugs the lonely, feeds the hungry, and is never self-centered. We should teach others how to love, show love, do not save it! We are here to love all; even those who are unkind, not receptive, those who despise and try to tear down, LOVE people unconditionally and without expectation.
SERVE – Our purpose is to serve others through the role we have been given. Serving is not about what we get from it, but what others gain. The greatest leaders are servant leaders. We can conquer loneliness and sadness by forgetting ourselves and focusing on others. If we learn to elevate our thinking, we will elevate our lives and our hearts, this effects our doing. We should do things for the greater good. Be a good listener, authentic, vulnerable, and flexible. We can only lead others if we serve them with loving, understanding, patient hearts. We should serve without pride, boasting, feelings of resentment, or expecting anything in return.
LEAD – Leadership is self-discipline, confidence, diligence, persistence, and determination. For us to change, we must have the proper inspiration, the right leader/example. As leaders, we should be trustworthy and create unity, and support, appreciate, and encourage; while holding each other accountable without blaming others for limitations. Our leadership should also give direction, and focus with clear expectations, no guessing. To be leaders, we cannot just do one thing well, we do life well. Make Life Happen!
#FindYourJoy – If we are not content, we are in contention. Contention is a struggle, when we are not happy, we are always competing. We cannot be grateful and negative at the same time. Life is all about the journey, we must stop looking and really SEE, and must stop just hearing and really LISTEN. When we really see and listen, we can then truly see people for who they are and discover what is in their hearts and thoughts; thus allowing us to connect on a much deeper level. We find the bright spots, whether that be people or the qualities they have, and we learn to appreciate those. We are willing to do the work and follow up; knowledge is not enough, action is what makes the difference. Instilling confidence and pride in one another, and showing this through actions not just words, because we cannot hide our true selves for long. If there is something others will see that we are not proud of, we can change! Remember peace and grace daily, and that life is only 10% of what happens to us, and 90% ATTITUDE. Life and Joy are not about titles or notoriety, life and joy are about living our purpose daily, finding our gifts, and growing, cultivating, and sharing those gifts with the world.
2020 definitely taught us many lessons and gave us time for much self-reflection. To love, serve, lead, and find our joy, we must move forward selflessly, and take the position we have been given and use it to promote others; remembering that all must come from our hearts and that the heart-work comes first. The world is full of brokenness, we can rise above by counting our blessings and helping others do the same. Also, we should strive to be intentional in our words, thoughts, actions, and relationships. What a reward to see others find true joy and love living, because of one small thing we may have said or done. My daily prayer is that I always lead with grace, give to others, serve them daily, show genuine care, be the hope, spread joy and live my best life. If I can do this daily, I know that I am loving, serving, leading, and have very much found my joy. Lastly, before any of us can do the hard work, we must do the heart-work! Along the way we are defining, aligning, and refining our hearts. Where are you with your heart, where is your organization/community? Get that aligned and the rest falls into place. We must build our lives on the right foundation and unless we live everyday in alignment with who we were created to be, we will not be our best.