“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Luke 9:49-50

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Luke 9:49-50

It may seem that leadership, even servant leadership, is a lonely process. In the end, as the saying goes, ‘the buck stops here.’ But it would be a mistake to see it, particularly if one embraces servant leadership, as something entirely done by oneself.

I like this comment by Jesus. It is an expression of profound openness to others and a willingness to see that the spirit of competition is often unhelpful. Too often, the thinking underpinning competition is a ‘zero-sum game’: if A wins, B loses. It assumes that life and work, and the institutions that exist within, are rooted in scarcity. Success means control over scarce resources – human, material and spiritual.

Jesus says the opposite here. So long as the ‘outsiders’ are not actively trying to undermine or destroy his mission, they are also welcome. If good is being done by others as well as his disciples, then good is being multiplied. Good luck to them!

Put into leadership terms, I think we can infer that cooperation, even with those outside one’s organisation, is good if the result adds value to lives. In one’s own organisation, seeing others taking the initiative and gaining good results is a positive good. In fact, in doing that, they show their leadership – not in a manner that dominates others, seeks to wrest control from the leadership or undermines the work, but which furthers and expands the long-term goal.

Good leaders, particularly those who see leadership as service and a calling to unlock the leadership potential in others, welcome such initiative.

Ask yourself. How do I respond when those ‘under’ me take the initiative? If I am uneasy or angry, what part of myself do I feel is lacking? If I am happy, do I take credit that the initiative may be a sign that I am a healthy leader?

A Leader's Prayer

Lord, as we continue to undertake the role of leader let us be affirmed by the servant leadership we witness in your son Jesus. Let us walk in the path He has set and let those who will, follow. Let our greatest passion be compassion. Our greatest strength love. Our greatest victory the reward of peace. In leading let us never fail to follow. In loving let us never fail.

Amen.

 
Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

a.egan@jesuitinstitute.org.za
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