Monday, April 29, 2013

Bad shepherds
By Editor
Sat 27 Apr. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Fr Bernard Zulu, of St Annes Cathedral in Chipata, says "leaders who go into leadership to serve their own interests are bad shepherds". We have many such leaders in our country today.

The essence or purpose of one being in leadership seems to have been lost. The primary motivation for a person seeking a leadership position should be a deep desire to help others. Attentiveness to the needs of the persons being served is essential to an understanding and fulfillment of this desire to help and serve others. But what we see today is leaders wanting to be served before they serve others, to be rewarded with all sorts of perks, gifts before they deliver to the people they were elected or chosen to serve.

We have had leaders who thought they were in power to serve themselves, to amass wealth for themselves, their families and friends. And when others complain about that type of leadership, they are accused of hatred, vengeance and malice.

We have had leaders who, immediately after coming into power, the first thing they did was to purchase for themselves, their families and friends new houses. This was before they could even build a house for any citizen in any part of our country.

Our politics seem to be no longer anchored on service. They seem to have forgotten the teachings of the early leadership of this country. "To be a leader at any level at all and in any scheme of things, you have got to love your fellow human beings, you have got to be ready to sacrifice for their good, you have got to be able to learn to respect the feelings of your fellow men," Dr Kenneth Kaunda told the UNIP national council at Mulungushi Rock of Authority on April 19, 1968. We seem to have departed from that type of politics, politics based on service, in a very big way.

There is need for us to work our way back to this concept of politics, politics of service. Let us teach ourselves and others that politics should be an expression of a desire to serve our fellow citizens and contribute to the happiness of the community rather than of a need to cheat or rape the community.

A person chosen for political responsibility as a leader must always remember that he or she is simply a servant or steward entrusted to offer humble service to others as opposed to owning power or the people he or she is elected or chosen to serve.

We need leaders who profoundly love their own people and wish to serve rather than to be served. Politics should not be turned into a business or a job. It is simply a service to the community. If one wants to enrich oneself, let them stay in business and keep away from public office.

The pursuit of political office must have as its aim the achievement of the common good.

Our leaders should view themselves as being representatives of the people at all levels. And as such, they should listen to the people, respect the people and work for the welfare of all the people. Let those who govern do so with care and respect for the people.

What our people are seeking is genuine democracy in which the leaders are servants of the electorate and not its masters. But very few of our leaders see themselves as being truly servants of the people.

They may be rhetorically sloganeering about being servants of the people. But in truth, they don't see themselves as servants of the people; they see themselves as masters of the people.

The purpose of servant leadership and its philosophy reveals that the leader is not the master of all but should be the servant of all.

Servant leaders serve because they are motivated by love and humility.
Therefore, a person chosen for political responsibility as leader must learn to serve before taking on a leadership position.

True leaders do not seek power but have a passion to achieve the best for those who are their responsibility. There is need for our leaders to continually examine and re-examine themselves and see if they are servant leaders or self-servicing leaders. A great leader is a servant to others. Serving others, thus, comes by helping people to achieve and improve their social status.

In a poor country like ours, those in leadership as servants cannot afford to live lives that place them far above the lives of their masters. Here when one looks at what the servants get and compare it to what the masters get, it is impossible to know who the true master is. In this country, the true master is not the people but the politician.

Fr Zulu is right when he says that it is a shame that some leaders go into leadership purely for self-gain and aggrandizement.

"If I was a shepherd and I live a life that is totally different from my people, for example, I live a very luxurious life and my people are wallowing in poverty, if I was such a one, I would even resign because such kind of leadership shows how unloving we are to our flock. Jesus as a good shepherd, his prime responsibility was to feed his sheep. He had a heart for them," observed Fr Zulu, adding:

"If you want to know more about what God does to bad shepherds, we can visit Exodus 34, when God says, 'I am going to take away bad shepherds and I Myself will shepherd My sheep with love and care'."

There are men and women chosen to bring happiness into the hearts of people - those are the real leaders, the servants of the people. The important thing in leadership is to give happiness to the people; to go to bed feeling that you have done some service to the community is very important.

It is necessary to remind all our leaders, political or otherwise, that their leadership should be for the good of the people and not for their personal gain. If the spirit of the primacy of service to others were to animate all our leaders, we would not witness the selfishness, greed, vanity, corruption and other abuses, which leave our people dismayed and disheartened about leadership. We read in the scriptures that "The Son of Man himself came not to be served but to serve" (Mark 10:45).



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