Insight from a Board Member: Servanthood vs. Leadership

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Insight from a Board Member

Leadership. The word itself creates half the problems in our communities. This misunderstanding is caused by the connotations of the word. We attach all the outward manifestations of the word: the respect, authority, and power. We give it the ability to solve all the problems of our communities and deliver us to all the solutions we cannot otherwise come up with.

This creates two problems. First, it shifts the responsibility from “us the community” to “them the leadership.” If things go wrong, we know who to blame. After all, the buck stops here. Second, it feeds this idea that forces “leadership” to try and deliver on this unrealistic expectation. This pressure to deliver, combined with false ideas of respect and authority, create all the terrible types of management of our communities.

There is no such thing as leadership. It is a word used by third parties to try and describe the work horses of the community. But for those of us who chose this path, we need only to know one word: servant. That is all we are, and that is we should hope to be. The sooner we realize and accept this, the sooner we can proceed on the path to success. Whatever titles others put on us are both irrelevant and inaccurate. We are servants first of Allah, then to our family, and then to our community. No more. Once we realize and accept this, we have liberated ourselves from false external pressure and we have correctly framed our job description.

As a Shura or Board member, the communitity has delegated its work to us. What kind of work? Mainly administrative. Cleaning, planning, communicating, filing, executing. Running the day to day. We are not the Fiqh Council of our community. Stay away from this area. We have not been given the religious authority of our community. All we are are servants. And your reward will come after you die.

So, as a servant, serve to the best of your ability. Make sure you deliver from an administrative and operational standpoint and provide excellent customer service in the process. Make sure programs are well planned and well thought out. Get the logistics correct. Make sure your communications systems like email, website, Facebook, and Twitter are working and delivering consistently. Make sure the masjid is always clean. Make sure the accounting books always reconcile. This is the meat and potatoes of your work. (We’ll save discussion of providing sacred knowledge and qualified khateebs for another day.)

And stop expecting respect. If the community calls you anything other than servant, it is up to them, but it should be irrelevant to you. If they thank you or if they even know what you have done is not for your to worry about. Take your reward from the One.

We cannot proceed on this path until we fully accept servanthood. Step by step.


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5 Comments on “Insight from a Board Member: Servanthood vs. Leadership”

  1. Abdul

    Excellent point and very fitting to most communities.  A shame I had to even look for these kinds of topic, kheir.  Please provide a link for a printable version.  Jzk.

  2. phatso2

    The majority of the people involved with helping this cause had a history of substance abuse and a high percentage of those people came from the Downtown East side

    The Servants of Hope is a non profit charity that has been helping the people of Vancouver’s downtown east side for the past 6 years. Alongside hot meals and warm coats they serve up a sense of hope and a chance at a new life. Below is a video link from Christmas 2012 over one hundred people came together to feed the homeless and do outreach we served over one thousand people that night

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