Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This why I'm Methodist

I was asked yesterday why I chose the United Methodist Church as the denomination in which to become ordained. I gave my tried and true stock answers: I believe in many of Wesley's teachings on service; I am inspired by the work I see the Methodist Church doing in the world; I am excited by the opportunities of service in my conference, etc.

Then I went home, and cracked open The Christian as Minister, one of the required reading materials in the process of becoming Ordained in the United Methodist Church. I was immediately struck by just how much my personal opinions and beliefs mirror the doctrine of United Methodism. I was a little overwhelmed; how often does the intimate murmurs of a single person's heart match up so well to a set of practices and principles set up by an institution? Truly this is where I'm meant to be.

A particular section of the book especially called to me. Entitled "The Meaning of Servant Leadership," it defined the term servant-leader as used by Robert K. Greenleaf, director of Management Research at AT&T. Greenleaf, inspired by a character in Herman Hesse's novel Journey to the East, declared that "a great leader is seen as a servant first." The primary goal of this servant-leader is to "make sure that other people's highest priority needs are being served." He goes on to say that the best test as to whether one is a servant first or a leader first is to determine if "those served grow as persons; do they while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous."

What a wonderful philosophy to apply directly to our lives, not only our career choices. Service to all, mirroring God's infinite love onto our fellow human beings. This is why I'm Methodist.

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