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Students inspired by lessons of servant leadership

Look around Scecina Memorial High School, and you will "Discover Opportunities." I had one of those opportunities when I was invited by the Key Club to talk about a passion of mine, servant-leadership (see photo below). 

This past Tuesday, I talked to 30-plus students about the topic, and they did a great job of interacting with me to define, in their terms, what they believed is servant-leadership. I affirmed their definitions. Then I indicated that the ultimate servant-leader, Jesus Christ, defined the term best. Jesus wrote, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:26–28). 

Next, I read a couple of my favorite passages from the Bible about servant-leadership and then moved on to contemporary servant-leaders. 

Contemporary servant-leadership was popularized by Robert Greenleaf, in his book "The Servant-Leader Within: A Transformative Path" (2003). Greenleaf believed that a servant-leader is a servant first and out of that service comes a natural desire to lead. He talked about the "Best Test" to determine if one had become a servant-leader when he wrote, "… do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants" (p. 13). 

From there, it was a natural progression to interact with students about our contemporary example of a true servant-leader, Father Thomas Scecina, for whom our school is named. When I asked one of the students to tell the story of Father Scecina, he said, "Father Thomas Scecina, as a prisoner of war, laid down his life serving others. As friendly fire sank the Japanese prisoner of warship he was on, he remained to administer the last rights to the other prisoners." 

I explained that one does not have to lay down his or her life to become a servant-leader, it develops gradually. Also, I acknowledged they were servant-leaders by being members of the Key Club. 

The Key Club is an international student-led organization that provides its members with opportunities to serve, builds character, and develops leadership. One way to "Discover the Opportunities" at the school is to join the Key Club! 

Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

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