The term ‘servant leader’ came from the essay penned by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970 titled ‘The Servant as Leader,’ where he pushed the idea of the leader as a helper first. The aspiration to serve is the overarching motivation to lead. In the author’s mind, it was a contradictory concept about being a leader first, which is driven by the drive to acquire power.
Of course, you can go back to the Gospel of St. Mark, Chapter 10, verses 42-45, where Jesus Christ taught his disciples to take a different path in leadership. Instead of following the footsteps of the high officials who lord over their subjects, the disciples must strive to serve. Only then will they be exalted, according to him. Even the Son of Man was not born to be served, but to serve, as per the scriptures.
But being a servant leader is a constant struggle with yourself. You need constant motivation, so do not forget your calling. A book by Andrea D. Price provides a prayer for servant leaders for added inspiration when you feel like giving up.
Every day, you will face many challenges that can be overwhelming. Among these challenges are:
1. Compassion fatigue –
The American Institute of Stress defines compassion fatigue as the stress of being exposed to people who are in pain. It is sometimes called ‘secondary traumatization.’ Compassion fatigue is seen in those who work in charity, volunteer organizations, and non-profit.
2. Burnout –
Burnout is an accumulation of processes or experiences, which results in emotional and mental exhaustion. Often, you withdraw from events, colleagues, and those you serve.
3. Unrealistic expectations –
You may have heard of servant leaders being described as ‘saints’ or those who ‘could do no wrong.’ Often, the hopes that people have about servant leaders are unrealistic. The problem comes in when the leader tries to live up to those expectations every day. It is the quickest way to burn yourself out. You can find a prayer for servant leaders on Andrea D. Price’s book to prevent such an occasion.
4. Being too selfless –
The common pitfall for servant leaders is to be too unselfish. The problem is that people might take advantage of this trait. Others see humility as a weakness, something they can exploit to advance themselves. Being generous and being manipulated are different things. You need to have the insight to be self-aware. For instance, in organizations, a leader needs to exert some amount of authority to get a task completed. You need to strike a balance between being assertive and being understanding.
5. Being over-empathetic –
Empathy is the foundation of all human relationships. An empathetic leader listens to his team members. However, every time you listen to and empathize with a person, you are sharing a little bit of yourself with him. It can leave you feeling drained, both psychologically and emotionally.
Servant leaders seek to lead through service, and they may encounter several pitfalls that will prevent them from meeting their goals. Often, they go to their families and mentors, but they also need advice from other people or sometimes, just a listening ear. But you can also try out Andrea D. Price’s daily prayers to give you the necessary push to keep going. The prayers are like yoga for the mind – a way to connect to the higher power who will salve a heavy heart and a drained soul.