A Shepherd’s Story


A Critical Doer has a Servant Spirit 


There is an ocean of difference between being in charge and being a leader.  The central question in determining the difference is “who’s it all about?”

Becoming a critical doer involves coming to grips with the idea that it’s not about you, as Pastor Rick Warren pointed out in the first sentence of his mega-seller The Purpose Driven Life.  Authority, derived from rule, vested in a leader is intended to accomplish a mission and do right by people.  Too often, people miss an opportunity to be critical doers because they use authority to elevate their own sense of self.  When this happens, there is no critical doing.

There is a time honored symbol of servant leadership and that is the shepherd.  It’s a humble occupation that illustrates the bond a leader cultivates when the mission and people are the focus.  I’m certain there are many individual skills of which a shepherd is immensely proud.  But in the final analysis, there is one and only one measure of merit for a good shepherd…the condition of the flock.  If the flock prospers, the shepherd was good.  If the flock falters, the shepherd was not good.  It really is that simple.

The greatest of ideas in the hands of someone lacking a servant spirit will never make the jump from thinking to doing.  It is much like bullets without a gun…lots of potential but no action.  Organizations, comprised of people, need to know someone has their back as they navigate the tough problems of the day and push forward into the murkiness where innovation and the game changing competitive advantages lie.  Remember, the power of critical doing comes in unleashing the power of people following a worthy vision and secure that a leader is flying top cover…lest we forget, it’s not about you.

My challenge to you is to reflect upon your own leadership journey, at home or work.  If your focus isn’t on being a servant, you’re likely missing opportunities for organizational success and for people to find fulfillment and significance.  In developing a servant spirit, you’ll quickly find yourself making the jump from critical thinking to critical doing.

I’d love to hear your stories about a critical doer you’ve known that had a true servant spirit.  Share the story with us so we can learn and grow stronger.  It’s what a critical doer would…do!

Updated: November 22, 2014 — 2:34 pm

1 Comment

  1. Critical doer with a servant spirit

    I am a member of a state organization. I am aware of a servant leader within that organization.

    First, the organization is composed purely of people with a common interest in a singular sport — but with widely varying interests in the disciplines within that sport. It is those “widely varying interests” that creates leadership challenges within the larger group.

    Second, the leadership — formal and informal — within the group is all volunteer. All the leaders have their regular jobs and full-time life to deal with and work this organization’s issues on a volunteer basis.

    The secretary in this organization routinely takes on additional responsibilities that are normally accomplished by other personnel — who for some reason are no longer volunteering their time.

    A response we might have expected out the common person is “No — Not in my responsibilities, and you’re not paying me to put in all this time.”

    However, the secretary’s response has been — “Hold on. Let me figure out how to do my current tasks more efficiently and generate time to work on that. While I’m at it, I will figure out how to do the new task more efficiently as well.”

    Now comes the really interesting part. Is the secretary doing this all by herself? No. She is leveraging other volunteers with specific skill sets to help out. Notice that is other “volunteers.” The organization is normally resistant to change — because “we’ve always done it this way.” But she is being successful at leading changes in processes.

    Along the way, she is also learning new skills. So while she is giving of her own time for the betterment of the organization — she is improving herself.

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