Last Autumn, I presented a work in progress at the conference on Mennonite education held at Bluffton College. This Summer, I actually put finger to keyboard and wrote out my largely extemporaneous talk about servant leadership and circle process. As usual, it took more time than I was expecting, but was so, so worth it when I got it done! The impetus for getting it all written down was the invitation to submit it for publication in the conference proceedings.
A point that I make in the original manuscript that had to be cut for length reasons, I want to share here. “My own introduction to servant leadership came from a presentation I heard as a student a then Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in in the late nineties. A member of the staff of either the Oakwood Academy or the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. In either case, my sense of servant leadership is linked to Robert K. Greenleaf, and I have been and remain puzzled that our references to and reliance on servant leadership in Anabaptist-Mennonite pedagogy and curricula fail to include robust engagement with either Greenleaf’s theories or the thought leaders who have taken up the mantle of his work through the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. Certainly, there are notable exceptions. The critique I am raising here is that owing to a tendency among ’internal churchly scholars’ to be intellectually pragmatic, we assume stances, utilize ideas, and employ language that are best-suited to advancing our arguments. To speak metaphorically, we are more interested with the taste of a piece of fruit than we are concerned with the particular tree, orchard, or agricultural practices that produced the thing we are consuming. A strength of this pattern is that our focus is on immediate intelligibility — we undertake analysis and synthesis with the intention of simplifying complex ideas. A weakness of this pattern is that we downplay or even dismiss how a chosen perspective fits into larger conversations that intersect with or even counter the view we are advocating. Servant leadership is a significant case in point.”
I‘ve posted a draft of the essay here (pardon the formatting glitches here and there), and I’ll put it up on Academia.edu when it’s finally published.
photo | “Milkweed” by Edith Maracle (Berghout) | Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC 2.0