Updated: Aug 3, 2018
“Instead of a fabric, I hold in my hands a bundle of a thousand knotted threads which…occupy hundreds of hands” (Hesse, page 47).
I was blessed to have a dear friend say the following to me one time in a heart-hearing conversation in which she informally used the Theory U case study methodology of sharing with me an image that came to her mind when I spoke. She saw me on a bridge looking down, and she saw my heart absorbing that I was looking down at my family. She then said for you, family is the world in which we are all connected as one.
“We see the world as a mystery for which we are responsible stewards. The world’s present condition needs to be aligned with its natural and future potential – and this requires a capacity of deep generative listening, generative dialog, and foresight” (Horsman, Chapter 2, p.19). “To hold in trust for others transcendent values such as humane treatment, justice, mercy, forgiveness, and love, stewardship is required. A good steward is an effective guardian of the well-being of others” (Ferch, p. xii).
I am a steward in my desire to advocate on behalf of others for an integration of Eastern healing into Western medical practices. Though it stems from personal values, my aspiration is for all stakeholders to work together to make the most informed decisions about the best total option(s) for treatment of someone’s well-being. Healthcare is a group effort, and solutions should not be isolated within one medical center, across regions, nor one continent from another. “Regardless of our home country, we are citizens of the world…Instead of following the ‘act locally and think globally’, world citizens think and act globally at the same time” (Christians, p. 20).
In addition, my stewardship includes meeting people where they are at, not where I am at, so to speak. “In the professional world of service providers, whole industries have been built on people’s deficiencies. Social service, most of medicine, therapy, and psychology are organized around what is missing or broken in people” (Block, pp. 12-13). People are not deficient, nor have things missing. People are whole who do no need to be “fixed”; they “just” need all who are a part of their community to listen. To really listen. “…just being with another person’s experience and not having to fix it, or counsel someone away from their grief…When we truly listen to people, they can heal themselves” (Ferch, Spears, McFarland, Carey, pp. 114, 119).
And I am a steward of purpose, for purpose begets hope and faith through forgiveness of the chapters in our story we cannot change, and through healing. My leadership philosophy written at the start of this program eighteen months ago included this:
I would like to tell you three stories. It is in these three stories I can best articulate the principles that guide every 86,400 moments of each day.
Below is one story that only grows in intensity with each new sunrise.
Approximately twenty years ago, I heard of an automobile accident in which a father and two young children lost their lives. A mother and a newborn child were not in the vehicle. The mother and youngest child’s physical lives spared; their sense of living forever changed. I could not shake this story from my consciousness. It was with me like clothes I could wear, sitting heavier on me than the warmest winter coat. All five of these individuals were strangers – random names in a media story; yet a sorrow within me as if they were people I knew.
Recognizing my grief, a friend spoke these words to me. “Chris, everything that happens – good, as well as tragic – is planned. If you make a positive change in your life because of this accident – perhaps you drive slower when the roads are icy, or you express love more frequently – you will give purpose to why this accident happened. You will make it matter that it did.”
From this experience some twenty-years ago, my daily mantra became: nothing is coincidence; there is purpose in everything that takes place. Life does not shelter us from challenge or loss, but we can make it matter when it occurs. Life’s downturns are the gifts to help us grow.
As a servant-leader in life-long training, my stewardship will include striving “always to know that faith is stronger than so-called reality” (Hesse, p. 52). I am aware that life is not always just, yet I believe that life is beautiful despite the suffering and sorrow. “One cannot be hopeful, it seems to me, unless one accepts and believes that one can live productively in the world as it is – striving, violent, unjust, as well as beautiful, caring and supportive. I hold that hope...is absolutely essential to both sanity and wholeness of life” (Greenleaf, 1998, p. 21).
I am steward to be ever watchful for what is most meaningful for others in their life journeys. As Dr. Ferch expressed in Conversations on Servant-Leadership: “If I’m going to live in a way that the person says of me I’ve made them more healthy, it changes the whole dynamic. That means I’m going to be searching for what’s most meaningful in their life, as one part of it, and then also probably what’s most meaning in life in general” (Ferch, Spears, McFarland, Carey, page 235). “With meaning as our centering, we can journey through the realms of chaos and make sense of the world” (Wheatley, pp. 133-134).
Block, P. (2009). Community: The Structure of Belonging. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler
Christians, C.G. (1997). The ethics of being in a communications context. In C. G. Christians & M. Traber (Eds.), Communication ethics and universal values (pp. 3-19). Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage Publications.
Ferch, S. (2012). Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity: Servant Leadership as a Way of Life. Lanham, Maryland. Lexington Books.
Ferch, S.R., Spears, L., McFarland, M., Carey, M., (2015). Conversations on Servant-
Leadership. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Greenleaf, R. (1998). The Power of Servant-Leadership. San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler
Hesse, H. (1956). The Journey to the East. New York, NY: Picador.
Horsman, J.H., (March 2017). Chapter Two: Evolving Pathfinding-fix. Retrieved from:
Wheatley, M.J. (2006). Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic
World. San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler.