It was only after the rice ran out that the British soldier noticed her again.

Her tiny face crumpled as it dawned on her that she would get no food that day. Even in the emaciated crowd, she was smaller and thinner than the rest, easily pushed aside as stronger ones shoved their way to the front.
The soldier had first spotted her under a scrawny tree as his aid convoy approached the refugee camp. But he’d forgotten her, focusing on the chaotic scene at hand. He and his comrades in arms were to protect the convoy from warlords and rioters. Sometimes aid-seekers became unruly.

Desperation gave the starving strength.

After the crowd disbursed, she remained. Her haunting eyes met his. He remembered the banana he’d tossed in his pack at breakfast. He pulled it out and walked over to offer it to her.

She took it silently. He watched her make her way back to the tree, and only then perceived two little boys lying in its shade, too weak to get up. She peeled the banana, broke it in two, and gave a piece to each of them.

Then she ate the peel.

“It was the most moving illustration of servant leadership I have ever seen,” he told me years later. “She changed the course of my life. I resigned from my career to follow her example, serving with communities in need in Africa.”

What was the power of this little girl to change a battle-hardened fighter’s heart? The soldiers and the humanitarians were ostensibly there “to serve.” They had the aid, the arms, the answers. But she offered something more rare, more vital.

She offered humble love.

After decades of development work, we’ve only seen real, sustained change when leaders are servants. The marginalized are weary of being led and used by those who lay claim to greater resource, power, or intellect.

Only being served out of love honors their dignity transformatively, affirming their identity and restoring hope. This paves the way for them to freely choose to become servant-leaders themselves.

As management sage Robert Greenleaf wrote, “The servant-leader is servant first…The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society?”1

The Achilles’ heel of servant-leadership is what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “drum major instinct” — “a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first.”2 Social entrepreneurs, when lauded as modern-day heroes, believe their press at their own peril.

Ego short-circuits servant-leadership.

Jesus, the model for Dreams InDeed’s core values, confronted the drum major instinct in his followers. When they vied for the top spot, he re-defined greatness: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”3

In one of his last speeches before his assassination, Dr. King affirmed what that starving girl knew to be true under that scrawny tree:

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve…You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”4

Servant leaders eat banana peels – and leave changed lives in their wake.
__________________________________________________________________________

1 Greenleaf, Robert (1977).  Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, ISBN 0809125277, pp 13-14.
2 King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1968). The Drum Major Instinct, available online at http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_drum_major_instinct.
3 Mark 9:35.
Attribution URL.  Meygaag by Somali Nomad. Re-used under a Creative Commons license.
Who We Are

Swiss Secretariat

Dreams InDeed
Rue de Lyon 77
Geneva
CH-1203
Switzerland

US Network Hub

Dreams InDeed International
Post Office Box 549
Wheaton, IL 60187 USA

Email

Privacy Policy

We’ve got some great news to share from the Haskells!  

 However, before we jump into that, allow us to introduce ourselves as the chairs of the US and Swiss boards of directors for Dreams InDeed. 

I am
Rick Williamson, US board chair.  As a clinical psychologist, I specialize in trauma recovery and strengthening individuals and communities against stress impact. I prepare humanitarians and responders worldwide to serve effectively in harm’s way.  Over my fifteen years in this field, I’ve recognized the essential role of those special persons in every community who embrace and build up their most affected neighbors. 

I serve with Dreams InDeed not only because we engage in the world’s hard places, but we also aim to strengthen the “insider” for the truly transformative impact that the world so desperately needs. I am honored to serve along with each of you in support of the Dreams InDeed mission.

And, I am
Joe Campbell, Swiss board chair.  As a mediator in civil and political disputes, I contributed to peaceful resolution of the troubles in my home country of Northern Ireland, leading to the Good Friday Agreement.  I also mediated in Nepal alongside politicians, community activists, and church leaders in the search for a just and lasting peace. In both, I supported Dreamers and have often been a Dreamer myself. 

 

I know what it means to be affirmed and encouraged by outsiders who make it their business to be informed enablers.  That sensitive participation fosters hope amidst despair.  It is my honour to join in the crucial work of Dreams InDeed.  Together with you, I will do all I can to nurture sparks of hope into lights of joy.

Now, here is the news we just received from David and Janice in the Middle East:

 

Dear Rick and Joe, 

 

Thank you for your faithful and effective servant leadership as our US and Swiss board chairs.  We were challenged by the wisdom and faith of both boards setting such ambitious goals this year.  As our fiscal year gets underway now in July, we’re excited that strategic doors of opportunity are swinging open on every aim we agreed together!  

 

Goal: equip exemplary dreamer cases in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and East Africa.  Progress: despite escalating violence, dreamers are persevering with six initiatives among the hardest countries of the worldwide Fragile States Index.  This year, we’ll sustain both Dreams InDeed’s unprecedented regional registration and our continuing Jordan residency to strengthen these dreamers, guided by Janice.

 

Goal: research parable communications to engage closed minds via both word and deed.  Progress: The University of Oxford has approved David for doctoral field research on The Pedagogy of Parable.  To develop this Dreams InDeed training curriculum, David will shuttle between research in Oxford and case work on the ground in the Middle East.

 

Goal: research publishable Middle East cases on the transformation of pluralist conflict.  Progress: an exemplary Lebanese visionary has volunteered his civil society, public service, and business networks for rigorous field research.  Plus two Oxford professors, experts in values education and intercultural dialogue, will supervise the fieldwork.  

 

Goal: engage next-generation prospects to serve dreamers in hard places worldwide.  Progress: Kellogg College, with Oxford’s greatest number and diversity of international graduate students, has granted David membership.  Adjacent to Kellogg, Dreams InDeed has secured an operating base in Oxford for us to host and befriend global candidates.

 

Goal: expand our thought leader networks for aligned advisors and European board members.  Progress: upon review of David’s Pedagogy of Parable research proposal, six professors immediately volunteered their expertise in international development, political science, public policy, economics, leadership science, and character cultivation.

 

 

On behalf of the boards of directors of Dreams InDeed, we thank you again for journeying with us on our mission to strengthen dreamers in hard places so the poor thrive as God intended. We look forward to your continuing participation as we accelerate toward our shared vision: “a light in every hard place in our generation.”