Take a guess at what all these successful companies have in common.
AFLAC. Container Store. Starbucks. Marriott. Nordstrom. Southwest Airlines. Whole Foods. Synovus Bank. Chick-Fil-A. Zappo’s.
Well, for one thing, except for AFLAC (whose commercials I do love) I have been a frequent, fairly loyal customer of them all. Chances are you have too. Here’s the real binder – all of these organizations unapologetically value, practice and require “servant leadership.” It’s not a coincidence that a culture of humility and self-emptying translates into a company that is wildly popular, and most often, extremely popular. In fact, in CNN Money’s top ten companies to work for, half of them clearly claim servant leadership as not just their personnel strategy, but core company value.
I wonder where that comes from? How about God’s son as the source of servant-minded success?
It doesn’t take a lot of biblical knowledge to recall certain statements and examples that defined the life of Christ. He came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. He once told his closest associates, if you want to be great, be the servant of all. And his life reflected that in every encounter, right up to the giving of his own life for others. All others.
Look around today and you see a lot of folks using the opposite tack in an effort to get what they want. Profit by exploitation. Power by fear and intimidation. Reputation by arrogant pride. Yet those who seek elevation by humble, even holy deference fly higher and further. And they feel better about themselves – and others – because they have. Herb Kellerher, famed pioneer of Southwest Airline, once said that power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats. He also said that a company is strongest when it’s bound by love rather than fear. He also said that if you create an environment where everyone participates, you don’t need control. Pretty humble statements for a legend at the top of an industry leader. One who literally and metaphorically flew pretty high.
Why this rambling about business and leadership strategies? Well, first I’ve always found that kind of thing fascinating. I also have been taken with how slow, of all organizations, modern churches have been to adopt and adapt to such themes. The third of the our “These Three Things” is to love and serve our amazing city in a real and radical way. We can’t do that if we are more concerned with growing a church than growing the Kingdom. It takes turning love into action, and making that our calling card. Come listen Sunday and let’s take a closer look and listen to just what that might look life. And more importantly, why it should.
Gotta go now. For some reason I’m craving some Chick-Fil-A. I’m just dying for someone to go out their way for me and tell me it’s their pleasure. I bet a lot of folks we could really love and serve are too.