Bro. Jerson V. Hiponia
While reflecting on the Gospel, the word “servant leader” crossed my mind. The greatest perfection of a “servant leader” is Christ. He is the perfect model which I hope to emulate. The total surrender of Christ to the Father, becoming both Divine and Human, is edifying and enlightening. The very thought of being a servant to others reminds me of the challenge to grow in humility and love for God and for my neighbor. Christ, in whom creation came to be, showed the way, humbling himself to be truly one with the created by taking the form of a slave to serve and not to be served.
In the Gospel, Jesus addressed the crowd, as well as James and John, “If anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be a slave to all” (Mt 20:26). It is a clear manifestation of the need for us to grow in the poverty of Christ and to set aside our earthly ambitions, and grow in complete love for God and His people. The proper response to call to service is not directed at status or position. It rather puts the service to our brothers and sisters first, especially the poor, as the overriding concern. Only then should roles, position or authority follow. The situation, the needs and welfare of people shape the kind of servant leaders that the church should have.
In the worldly domain, God’s will is sidelined or ignored by many to achieve their own personal goals. Many seem to prefer their own ‘personal gods’. Those who wield power in our society today use “god” from their own image and likeness to take advantage of their constituents for their self-interests. The people merely become a means for them to gain power and keep it for themselves. The innumerable problems of society, such as unemployment, the rising prices of basic commodities and lack of social services just to name a few, are unattended. The people especially poor are left to fend for themselves.
God reminds all leaders and all those who are aspiring to become leaders that to be a leader means to be a servant. If this were true in the political arena, the challenge becomes even greater for a person aspiring or trying to follow Jesus through the priesthood and consecrated life. The notion of servant leadership should permeate one’s heart. Pope Francis highlighted the significance the being ‘servant leader’, the church, therefore, must take the lead. He expressed in Evangelii Gaudium the call to all the faithful to be ‘missionary disciple’ to “the poor, the outcast and those outside the peripheries of the church.” The church and clerics should be at the forefront of living servant leadership. They should reach out to the people especially the outcast of society and be an instrument of true service.