I had the great opportunity and honor last night to speak for a fund-raising event that was sponsored by the Long Prairie Chamber of Commerce and the Long Prairie Baptist Church. I was asked to provide a seminar on Servant Leadership for the attendees.

This was a very unique situation for me, as the community of Long Prairie has a special place in my heart. I moved to Long Prairie from Milwaukee many years ago when I was 28 years old due to a job offer to lead one of the top magazine printing plants in the nation. At that time, I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. 

I started my presentation with the comment, “It takes a village to raise a child!” I had the honor of sharing with them the profound impact that they had on my personal life as well as my family’s lives. This community of Long Prairie put their arms around me when I was probably too young and inexperienced to be in this job, and lifted me up in more ways than they would ever know. The people of Long Prairie set an example for me on what servant leadership looked like, before I had ever heard the term. We were a team that succeeded together!

When you break servant leadership down, it is really just living within a thought process that you are always thinking about others before yourself. Doing that will allow you to build amazing relationships, and your work will add significant value to others and society as a whole. 

Two examples of servant leadership that I cited last night:

  • In my fourth month after moving to LP, I went into the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Our closest family was 600 miles away, and my wife and I had two young children ages 4 and 2. That evening a friend from church just showed up to sit with my wife for the entire night at the hospital providing support for her and our family. I’m sure she had many other things she could have been doing but she was thinking about others first!
  • Another couple (probably 20 years older than us) went out of their way very early on to invite us to their church and their home Bible Study Group, and also took the time to teach our 4 year old how to ice skate. As a basketball player from IL, hockey was a foreign sport to me at the time, so I needed to be taught as well. Both our boys went on to enjoy outstanding times playing hockey, and it became a major part of our lives.

When servant leaders go through life, they probably never have any idea about the impact that they will have on others. That’s not why they do what they do. Simply put, servant leaders have a heart to serve, doing things out of love for others.

It was wonderful last night getting to share with a community the extremely positive impact that they had on me, and about the heart that I now have for helping others to lead at a higher level as servant leaders, to enable them to achieve their God-given potential.

I encourage you to take the opportunity to thank those in your life that have positively impacted you along the way!

 Mark Deterding

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12,14