Servant Leadership: Lessons from Ancient Rome
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Servant Leadership: Lessons from Ancient Rome

I have been fortunate to continue to grow in my understanding of servant leadership at STM by hearing stories of humility and heroism, taking time to serve others, and watching the example our upperclassmen set for the rest of the school.  In preparation for this year, the amateur historian in me wondered; how far back can we trace the origins of the contemporary phrase “servant leadership”?  I was pleased to find the Meditations of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius to be one of many reflections on leadership whose lessons prove to be as invaluable today as they were in the 2nd Century AD.

“People exist for one another.  You can instruct, or endure them.”

The same could easily be said for a high school career; you are surrounded by immensely interesting, talented, and awesome people.  You can get to know them, instructing one another in the simple truths of friendship and kindness.  Or, you can simply let four years of time pass by, sharing only a building with your classmates.  This is the complexity behind saying to one another, “I’ve got your six!”

“Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.”

How often do we pause to think about our daily interactions?  Nowhere is this more important than in reflecting on the time we take to serve others.  When you sit down to journal, are you thoughtfully considering who you encountered?  How it made you view your own situation differently?  There is great potential in going beyond “checking off the boxes”, allowing our soul and character to be transformed by intentional acts of goodness.

“People who are excited by fame forget that those who remember them will soon die too.”

Our faith encourages us to live for a heavenly reward, to serve and do what is right without consideration for an earthly audience.  Regardless of belief (Aurelius was by no means a monotheist) there is something refreshing about adopting the humility of one who seeks virtue instead of acclaim.  It clarifies our intentions, revealing a genuine and selfless servant to those that we interact with.
Thank you for indulging me in this historical tangent; the notes will be posted to Schoology later, and your homework is to make a meaningful gesture to a classmate, write down and reframe your thoughts about doing “required” service, and to find a modest way to serve using your unique gifts.


Mike Greuel
Social Sciences Teacher

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