Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Servant CUA

These are some thoughts I shared with our student leaders last Sunday. As I read the Gospel passage from John 13. Student leaders from different organizations on campus came and washed and kissed each others' feet. I think their acting out of the Gospel had a profound effect on the 150+ student leaders who participated.


Because of our Mission I would propose to you that men and women in leadership roles here at CUA should exercise them in a unique way.

Just like there should be a different in our Residence Hall because we are the Catholic University of America and there is….

You guys don’t know how different it is here because you don’t have other experiences to compare us to...

I think, I hope because we are Catholic we care more.
Because we are Catholic look out for each other more
Because we are Catholic we try and get the whole story before we act

Just like there should be a difference in the way our Offices treat students and most of the time there is… because we are the Catholic University of America

How should we exercise leadership at CUA

I would like to propose to you a passage from scripture to help us get started.
Whether you are Catholic or not it is a very touching story..

John 13: 1 – 20

1 2 3 Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already induced 4 Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, 3 fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God,4 he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist.5 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.6
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Master, are you going to wash my feet?"7
Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later."8 Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."9 Simon Peter said to him, "Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."10 Jesus said to him, "Whoever has bathed 6 has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all."11 For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."12 So when he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?13 You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.14 If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet.15 I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

(Student leaders pre picked from different groups wash each other’s feet in front of everyone)

Kind of radical isn’t it
Not easy to look at.
I think it is harder to have your feet washed then to wash someone’s

This is the model of Leadership that Jesus proposes to us
and this is the model that we should propose at Catholic.
It is how our students should lead
This is how you need to lead
It is how our staff should lead
It is how our administrators should lead
It is how our faculty should lead

I want to make a disclaimer…
WE ARE NOT perfect
I am not perfect
I feel a little uncomfortable asking you guys to do something that I am not necessarily good at doing myself

Even our offices can do better
We talk about doing better
We are working together at getting better.
Sometimes however our humanity gets in the way

And sometimes we don’t listen to each other as we should
Sometimes there are petty competitions between offices
Or turf wars

We are getting better but there is still room to grow.
So in a sense I don’t want you to let our own weakness our own mistakes keep you from being the men and women we need you to be.

1. The first thing that we need to learn from this model of leadership is that we can’t be in it for ourselves.

Our service our leadership cannot be about us
It is not about us.
People involved in leadership here at CUA should never say things like
“I’ve go the power”

The gift of our time and our talents has to be free.
Just like love has to be free.

Jesus did not wash the feet of the apostles because he liked doing that

It was not necessarily a pleasant task the roads were dusty their feet were dirty
He did it because he cared about them
There was nothing in it for him.

Our leadership cannot be about feeding our ego to make us feel important.
That’s how turf wars begin…

And at Catholic especially in the past especially in our student governance or leadership they took turf wars to a new level
They are or have been almost an art form.

When it is not about us then we shouldn’t hear things like
This is my program
That’s your program why should we help you look good
You don’t have my permission Maybe I’ll give it Maybe I won’t
I haven’t signed off on that yet

Words like My and Mine and I want etc…
Are hard to keep in mind when you are washing someone else’s feet

CUA Student Leadership cannot be about making yourself look good
I repeat your service and the gift of your time and talents and efforts has to be free.
A Free gift

2. In our model of leadership here at CUA we have to do something worthwhile.
Do something of value

Make sure your programs touch people lives.
Make them laugh
Educate them
Make them healthier
Help them affiliate or feel at home here
Entertain them
Help them care about others

Make sure your efforts affect the greatest number of people
Remember your whole constituency

Sometimes people in power use their influence for a select few their special friends.
And anyone else who might happen to benefit from it.

Your efforts have to be broad based.

Lots of times people have ideas which they really think are great but really don’t seem to make a difference in the lives of our students.

To make our service worthwhile…
We shouldn’t say to our constituencies "I know what is best for you" Or "This is how I am going to serve you"
Rather we should say
How can I serve you
How can I help you
What kind of programs do you want

(We can’t be all things to all people) and
We can’t satisfy everyone needs and wants
But worthwhile service begins with listening.

When Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles it benefited them
Their feet were clean after he washed them

We continually have to ask ourselves as we program and work as student leaders how is this helping someone?

Yes you have to try things.
But if no one attends or it doesn’t work out.Then you have to try something new.
It is doesn’t work change it.

Don’t be a student leader for yourself
Use your leadership to do something worthwhile.

3. I propose that The third component of Student Leadership at CUA should be humility.

We really need to meditate on that.

When it comes to service or leadership, Humility is not something that the world sees of value.

If you drive down North Capital to the building with the dome you won’t find a whole lot of people who are promoting humble service or humble leadership.

Our government has some brilliant people who are great at what they do, but there is not a whole lot of humility there.

Jesus was the Rabbi
Jesus was the teacher
But he washed the feet of his disciples
He performed a task which was usually reserved for a slave

When guests arrived the servants or the slaves would wash their feet.
We need to lead humbly
As I said before it is important to realize that you are not the whole show

If we are humble we realize that someone else might have a good idea
When we are humble it is so much easier to collaborate.
It is so much easier to work together.

That’s something we have to do a lot better around here.
We need to collaborate…
We all have the same goals

To continue to make CUA
A positive fun safe place to be
A place which helps us all be the men and women God created us to be.
We need to Collaborate
We need to collaborate

That is something the Fr. O’Connell is always asking the administrators to do
Listen to each other
Help each other
Figure it out together.
He doesn’t want us to always run to him.
But frequently tells us to work it out on our own.

I feel that this is an area where our student leaders need a lot of growth.
When I say collaborate I don’t mean that everyone does everything.
Our office can never be responsible for club sports and
Mike Allen in Athletics should not start saying Mass.

There are however tons of things we can work on together
And sometimes
He can help us
And sometimes we can help athletics.

We need to find more areas where we can help each other.
We need to do more things together.

We have to get away from pronouns like
Theirs, mine, his, hers, I, me, and move to our or we

The Campus life CUA is our’s to create

Our service must be free
We have to do something that’s worthwhile
We have to be humble and allow ourselves to collaborate more
Work together

It is so easy to fall into the trap of being proud.
It is so easy to forget that your love your service
The gift of yourself your leadership
Has to be free…

Here are some prayer cards with the Word WASH on them...
I propose this simple word as a slogan for service next year.

W - Work
A - at
S - Serving
H - Humbly

This little word offers us a lot to think about indeed.


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