Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Serve to Lead

I love movies. I can reach back in my Rolodex of watched movies and pull out a quote or an example for just about any situation at any given moment. Suffice it to say, I’ve seen a lot of them. Movies can be powerful. There’s the scenery, the captivating music that lures you into one emotion and on to the next, the interaction with people; everything you need to make a powerful point or tell a beautiful story. Movies have greatly impacted my life over the years and I believe God speaks to me through them. Hey, if he can speak through a donkey to Balaam in the bible, he can speak through a good flick.

So I watched “The Last Samurai” again last night. It was probably the 4th time I’d seen it, but for some reason it really impacted me on another level this time. Whether or not you like Tom Cruise or not is irrelevant. The movie is a masterpiece on many levels. I could go on an on, but I’ll get to the point. There is much talk of the “way of the Samurai”, or “Bushido” which is a philosophy that describes the way a Samurai is commanded to live. It’s not a suggestion; it’s a way of life. You are either a Samurai or you are not. It’s not a race or religion. It’s a belief system that is apparent in every action of those that follow the philosophy; the Samurai. For instance, the Samurai do not believe in promises. They believe that if you have said something, promise or not, you are then bound by what you said. There are 7 virtues represented in Bushido. They are:

Chu – Duty and Loyalty
Gi – Justice and Morality
Makoto – Complete Sincerity
Rei – Polite Courtesy
Jin – Compassion
Yu – Heroic Courage
Meiyo – Honor

If you’d like to learn more about Bushido, I’d suggest checking out Wikipedia.

Could you imagine if everyone lived by this philosophy? I think about this in comparison to Africa. Do to colonialism, western influences and oppression for so many decades, there is a society of people that think primarily of themselves and their own survival. There is no talk of honor, respect, or serving others. Typically, when Africans think of leaders, they think of dictators, not true leaders. That’s what they’ve witnessed over the years. But the Samurai represent true loyalty, true respect, and true servanthood. The word Samurai in fact means “to serve”. How about that? The fiercest warriors in our history call themselves servants. That’s powerful.

When I think of William Wallace, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Bono, or Jesus (I think they all would have enjoyed each other’s company), I see servants; people that would give their life (or did) for what they believe in, for others. William Wallace gave his life for his people, as did many other great leaders. Bono spends the majority of his life serving the poor. Jesus gave his life on the cross between two thieves, after spending his life living with the poor. These guys are all servants. They weren’t people that just went around leaving a trail of dead bodies and wounded souls in their wake. They fought (in different ways) for their people and to protect what they believed to be sacred. There is honor in that.

I believe the best leaders are so because they are the best servants. Their first thoughts are how to serve others, not how to get more for themselves. They would give up everything just to feed another hungry person. That’s leadership. What will people remember about you when you are dead and gone? Will they remember someone that served others or themselves? Will they remember a leader, a follower or a dictator? If there’s one thing I pray I can teach others, it’s to be a servant. I would consider my life to be a success if there was nothing listed on my tombstone other than “Jared N Miller, Servant”.

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