Daily Archives: March 18, 2014

Tuesday, 18 Mar – Becoming a Servant

18 Mar – Memorial of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Doctor

Raised a Christian in Jerusalem. Well educated, especially in religion. Priest, ordained by Saint Maximus. A great teacher of catechumens, Cyril’s instructions are still source documents for the Church‘s early teachings. Bishop of Jerusalem in 348. Exiled three times by the Arians, usually on some trumped up charge like selling church furniture, but actually on theological grounds. Attended the Council of Seleucia in 359. Attended the Council of Constantinople in 381. Greek Father of the Church. Doctor of the Church.

– The Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 1:10,16-20

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.

‘Wash, make yourselves clean.
Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.

‘Come now, let us talk this over,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

‘If you are willing to obey,
you shall eat the good things of the earth.
But if you persist in rebellion,
the sword shall eat you instead.’

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Matthew 23:1-12

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’

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The greatest among you must be your servant

The concept of ‘servant leadership’ was foreign to me until my new boss came on board in the middle of last year and sent each of us a document on his leadership style. Today, my initial skepticism has given way to a new-found respect and understanding in spite of the many challenges that have been thrown our way. Looking back over the past few months, I can recall certain situations where my reaction would have been totally different towards my staff had I not consciously adopted an attitude of a servant leader.

At the celebration of our Bishop’s first episcopal anniversary at the end of February, we were all privileged to hear him deliver a simple yet heartwarming talk about how life for him hasn’t really changed since he took over the office. For me, he was the same priest who has ministered to his flock and cares deeply for those who are troubled, wounded and broken. To him, serving all the Catholics in Singapore to the best of his ability is paramount and truly, he is a shining example of what being a servant leader is like.

It is not easy for those in leadership positions to surrender and let God take over when it comes to managing people or navigating difficult situations. I myself, have fallen prey to relying on my own experience and knowledge to solve problems, or to manage a difficult colleague. Gradually, I have come to realize that when push comes to shove, when all else fails, we need to pray. In prayer, God will reveal to us His plan and His solution which, inevitably, turns out to be the right one all the time. It is during these times that I find myself marveling at how God knows exactly who to send or what words to put into my mouth. When you’re dealing with staff who are emotional, unsure, or even angry, being as Christ-like as possible certainly is the only way to defuse any situation and to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.

I sometimes joke with my other colleagues that I actually work for my team and that they are my real bosses. And as we have bonded over a span of 18-24 months, they have helped to shape me as a leader. I believe that just as Christ sacrificed himself for us, we in turn, as leaders, must be able to make sacrifices for those who work with us. As Catholics, we should indeed count ourselves lucky in that we have the ultimate role model of a servant leader – Jesus Christ.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

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Prayer: Father, we thank you for sending us your son, Jesus Christ to be our leader and saviour. We ask that you bless all those in leadership roles with the spirit of humility and with patience so that they can be true role models in your light.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Jesus, for showing us the way and for being our role model.