We should with purposeful steps desire to be people willing to serve others. Our current culture counters this way of thinking by being self-obsessed. We don’t have time to notice the needs of others, let alone actually do anything about those needs, because we are too busy gratifying self. It cuts across the grain of this culture when people actually choose to align themselves with a greater cause…a much nobler pursuit: serving the needs of others. This type of work can be difficult and messy, progress might be slow and many of those who choose to serve may feel the urge to “throw in the towel.” Those who truly are committed to the mission will continue “serving” no matter what because service represents who they are.
Consider for a moment our simple, yet powerful mission at the the Madison Champaign ESC. We want the people representing our agency, doing good work for students in both counties to be first and foremost “servant leaders.” As Robert Greenleaf, founder of the modern servant leadership movement, observed “If a person aspires to lead they must first learn to serve.”
WE is a plural pronoun that conveys the idea of being together, on the same page or of the same mind. It implies TEAMWORK which promotes the idea that we don’t do our work in isolation it is done together in a coordinated manner that best serves the needs of others. As teachers, paras, therapists and other specialists, our ESC works collectively to help students, as supervisors/coordinators/directors we work together in a manner that best serves those who work directly with students AND with those districts who rely on our service. Effective teams share resources, communicate effectively AND they presume positive intentions of every member of that team.
WORK – All of our staff members were all hired to perform a specific function within this agency. No one can perform the job exactly the way someone else would do it BUT it is “work” implying labor, effort, or an expending of energy. This work is to be done in manner that is respectful, timely and of a high quality EVERY day. The work of servant leaders in our agency should reflect positively on the individual, on their ESC teammates and on the ESC as a whole.
TO SERVE – This infinitive encapsulates the ESC philosophy; we “the team” don’t work aimlessly BUT we labor together IN the service of others. The needs of others (students, districts, other staff members) drive us to act. As servant leaders, staff members of the Madison-Champaign ESC are concerned about the growth of others, we listen to the concerns of others and then we act in a manner that is compassion-driven. WE WORK TO SERVE it is more than words it is WHO we are.