Friday, June 3, 2016

The Servant Leader Versus the Serpent Leader

Serpent Leaders versus Servant Leaders
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Genesis 2 v 17
Knowledge of good and evil has made mankind a mixture. God created mankind to multiply and dominate or lead the earth with knowledge of good only initially. But ,satan, the serpent leader lead man to disbelieve God and discredit His goodness, to scorn His grace, to reject His authority and come under the authority of the enemy of our souls.
Historically, two lines of human leadership flows, one from the serpent or satan, the serpent leader, the demagogue, subtle, lying and deceiving and the other , from Jesus, the shepherd king, the servant leader, the pedagogue.

Jesus and Hitler showed us differing models of dissemination, one of truth, the other of untruth, one of love, the other of hatred, the one, a Jew who rose above all sense of nationality, the other a Jew-baiter and hater, one spoke and acted with humility, kindness and mercy, the other with anger and violence and cruelty, the one invested in a dozen lives, the other intimidated millions, the one continues to influence generations, the other fizzled out in a generation. Moral : do not look for a million followers on twitter or likes on Facebook. Invest in a few with humility, love and kindness and retain influence for generations.

The contrast between different world leaders and the style and content of the leadership of Jesus, the servant leader is illustrative. Napoleon Bonaparte is one such serpent leader. People became the fodder or ammunition for his ambition to dominate Europe and the world. He sacrificed the lives of thousands upon thousands of soldiers to achieve his goals. Like satan who grasped for the crown that belonged to God and unlike Jesus who gave up His crown of Deity to become an ordinary human being, Napoleon hailing from a middle class family kept climbing the ladder of success and personal ambition, adding title to title till he claimed to be Emperor and grabbing the crown from the Pope, placed it on his own head.

The leaders of the Russian Revolution, Lenin and Stalin were also instances of serpent leaders though they claimed to be servants of the proletariat or the working class. Stalin particularly was extremely despotic and had even his rival Trotsky assassinated. He also organised pogroms or massacre of a large number of dissidents and those who seemed to be a threat to his own power and position. In this context, Mao Tse-tung the leader of Communist China was an example of serpent leader.

Examples of servant leaders are M.K. Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the young Nobel peace prize winner Malala. These servant leaders were selfless and fearless. They were willing to pay a huge personal price in standing for certain ideals and values. They did not value power or position or titles for its own sake. The exercise of power of office is modulated and shaped by some principles that they hold dear to their heart. Abraham Lincoln was one such servant leader who was prepared to sacrifice his life in order to have slavery abolished in the USA.

Serpent leaders have some diametrically opposite qualities to the servant leader. The servant leader avoids violence to achieve his or her ends. The serpent leader is like the fox-like Prince of Machiavelli. Passions predominate over principles and values in the case of serpent leaders. The serpent leader is easily moved by passions like jealousy to take extreme positions and actions. A good example is Cain, the son of Adam who slew his brother Abel out of an early instance of sibling rivalry. A servant leader is compassionate towards those who are less fortunate or under privileged and takes practical steps to help them in whatever way they can. A serpent leader pretends to be empathetic but it is only a posture he or she takes in order to capture or retain power.

A person can start off as a serpent leader but be transformed into a servant leader. Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty who came to the throne after shedding the blood of a large number of his own kin, became a servant leader governed by Buddhisht morality after the massacre leading to his victory over the kingdom of Kalinga. He eschewed war as an instrument of state policy thereafter and engaged in a variety of peaceful activities.

Some leaders combine the qualities of a serpent leader and those of a servant leader. John F Kennedy, the President of the USA in the early sixties was an advocate for peace and progress. He stood up to the aggressive postures of the serpent leader Khruschev with firmness and courage. He advocated against racial segregation of the Afro- American people. In his personal life, his sexual peccadillos however detracted from his integrity and legacy and marked him out with some aspects of a serpent leader.

Different Biblical as well as contemporary leaders have demonstrated qualities from time to time of both being a servant leader and a serpent leader. Abraham proved that he was a servant leader when he trusted and obeyed God in attempting to sacrifice his only begotten son even as God sacrificed His only begotten Son Jesus. But Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister in order to stave off the threat from a jealous Pharaoh for his wife was beautiful and would be coveted by the mighty Pharaoh. Much later Peter lied about not knowing Jesus when he was accused of being His follower as Jesus was being tried before His crucifixion. George Bush in contemporary times lied about Iraq being in possession of nuclear weapons in order to find an excuse to launch an invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein. Judas Iscariot another disciple of Jesus betrayed His master for thirty silver coins and identified Him to the Pharisees and Roman soldiers with a traitor’s kiss. Peter got a second chance to become a servant of Jesus while Judas denied himself the opportunity and died a serpent leader hanging on a rope from a tree in the Potter’s field. A servant leader does not take his life or death into his own hands but patiently waits for the Lord to shape him and mould him.

Moses in his early days was a serpent leader. His anger and pride provoked him to kill an Egyptian who was oppressing a fellow Jew. But later he humbled himself as a servant leader. His spirit was broken and he was ready to serve Jehovah. A servant leader is one who serves God in whatever task or role he is assigned or finds himself in. A serpent leader is one who manipulates to achieve his own agenda of domination, of aggrandisement, of deception, of self gratification.

Prateep V Philip © serpent leader

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