Do You Serve or Deserve? Part 2

Last week in Part 1, I described a couple of examples using the word deserve. This week we will take a deeper look into the subject.

Servanthood depth

As a member of the John Maxwell Leadership Team, I heard the CEO Mark Cole deliver a presentation titled Leadership Depth: Going Deeper so You Can Take People Higher.

Cole described seven capacities of depth and one of them was, The servanthood depth: caring. Listening to him, I thought about the stark contrast between servanthood and deserventhood. Yes, I took literary license to create that last word. The former is about adding value and serving others, while the latter revolves around the individual and their selfish attitude of “I deserve to be hired, to be promoted, to be recognized, etc.”

Words that begin with ‘de’

Let’s look at a few words beginning with ‘de.’ When you deactivate your credit card, you cannot use it any longer. In cold and snowy weather, an aircraft is de-iced. To defame a person means to take away from their reputation and tear them down.

Stepping away from the dictionary definition of deserve, when the letters ‘de’ are removed, the word that remains is serve. Listening to Cole’s presentation, I began to look at ‘deserve’ in another light. Think about this. When a person invokes the belief that they deserve something, no longer is anyone else served. The focus is now on the individual, what they want, and what that person believes they are entitled to. This attitude is 180 degrees opposite of serving others.

Arrogant Andy

Returning to the story of Arrogant Andy in Part 1, did he really believe he would be the fire chief in five years? Did he think the interview panel would be impressed with his drive and unrealistic ambition? Much to my consternation along with another member of the interview panel, Andy Arrogant became a member of our fire department and it was not long before he exhibited the “I deserve” entitlement attitude.

What about you?

So where do you fall into the picture? Do you deserve to be hired? Do you deserve to be promoted? Do you deserve to be the first in line? Ask yourself, “When I use the word deserve, am I de-serving and de-valuing someone else?”

I encourage you to be a servant leader, add value to others, put others first, and take the time to mentor and develop up and coming leaders.

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