QuestionMarkshadowI am still kicking myself for a missed opportunity I had last week. I have no idea whether it would have led to anything or not, but I know by focusing on myself as opposed to an inquisitive young person, I eliminated any possibility of it leading to something. 

Servant leadership is about building relationships. It is about wanting to first and foremost advance other’s lives, build their self-esteem, and help them achieve their dreams.

When I train on servant leadership I talk about the importance of a leader never walking by someone without acknowledging him or her. People are watching how their leader pays attention to them. 

I always try to be very intentional about this, but there are certainly different levels of acknowledgement. On this day I was referring to, I took the easy, selfish way out. 

I was at a grocery store checkout counter, and I was in my usual hurry mode. I don’t normally look for engaging conversation at the grocery store. So my mind was on getting my stuff, getting checked out, and back on the road. On this day, the person at the checkout counter was a young person that was very personable and was asking me a number of questions.  I acknowledged him through small talk, but nothing more. I never asked him one question!

My main focus was clearly on me. How fast could I get in, get out, and get back to my agenda for the day. As I was walking out of the store, I was already thinking about what I teach on this subject and how I violated those principles. 

The fact is I can’t get away from me. I have me 24/7. However, I may only have people that God puts in my path of life for a minute or two. How I use that time could be critical in advancing my purpose of “Helping people to lead at a higher level, to enable them to achieve their God-given potential”, or even more importantly advancing God’s purpose of eternal salvation for all. 

Building relationships can be advanced much more effectively when you:

  • Believe that others are more interesting than you
  • Focus on being more interested than interesting
  • Just ask one question! (Relationships start with a conversation and a conversation starts with just one question)
  • Listen 

I want to get better at taking the time to be present enough when God puts people in my path during a day, to ask just one question. I am certain it may lead to some interesting stories, which just might lead someone to the achievement of their potential. 

Is this an area in which you can make improvements as well?

Mark Deterding

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.   Luke 19:5-6