Tom Morris enjoys bringing the insights he has mined from the disciplines of philosophy and theology to bear on the challenges and opportunities of leadership. In his book If Aristotle Ran General Motors, he described a “pivotal conversation” between designer Gilbert Rohde and D.J. DePree.
In 1923, D.J. DePree bought the Star Furniture Company and named it after his father-in-law, Herman Miller, who had helped DePree to finance the purchase. DePree was an innovator in home and office furniture design, and he was also interested in the design of both public buildings and private residences. Rohde was one of his mentors. Once, Rohde said toDePree, “You think design is the most interesting thing about a house.” DePree answered, “Yes, I guess I do.” Rohde countered, “Then you’re wrong. The most interesting thing about a house is the people who live in that house. And I’m designing for those people.”
The most interesting thing about a house is not its design but the people whose life in the house makes it a home.
The most important thing about a corporation isn’t its strategic plan, its third-quarter profits, or next year’s revenue projections: it’s the people who work in it and who rely on its products and services.
And, the most crucial thing about a church isn’t its buildings, its budget, its programs, or, even, its “take” on finer points of doctrine. The most crucial thing about a community of faith is the people who have been and will be touched by the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
People matter most of all. Servant leaders never let the organization put secondary things in the place of those people. In the church, servant leaders are passionate about helping people become everything God has given them the capacity to become—to receive the fullness of life Jesus offers: “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Real leadership is a way of serving. Jesus calls us to lives of authentic humility and genuine servanthood in a culture that is fascinated by power and preoccupied with success and in which image and status matter more than reality and substance. A servant leader’s satisfaction is seeing others claim their possibilities, live their God-given dreams, and flourish in the way of grace and love.