Servant Leadership

It is hard to think of myself as a “servant.” As a wife and mother of 5, I spend the vast majority of my time in service to my family. But I am quick to point out to my children that I am not their servant and no, they don’t get to “order” lunch like at a restaurant and are expected to put their own shoes away. There is a difference between being of service and being a servant. To be of service is not connected with your identity. You are available to help, but there is a prior choice to be available. Thanks for your assistance would not be out of place and is probably expected.

To be a servant, however, is a piece of who you are and what you do. A servant doesn’t get to choose which orders to follow and which to distain. A servant is awake before the master and asleep after him or her. A servant does what he or she is told and is expected to be obedient without complaint.

The words of Jesus today are difficult to swallow. Thank goodness we don’t walk this journey of faith alone. Today is Pope Saint Leo the Great’s feast day. Leo was pope from 440-461 AD and did not waste a moment of his pontificate. One of the pope’s titles is the “Servant of the Servants of God.” Pope Leo took this to heart as he guided the Church through tumultuous times. He defended the faith from multiple heresies and attacks, promoted the belief and understanding of the mysteries of Christ, and took great efforts to provide quality, relatable pastoral care for the faithful. Leo truly saw himself as a servant-leader in his role as the head of the Body of Christ on earth.

Leo took a stand to protect the fullness of the faith where others were swayed. He insisted on peace where high tempers and conquest ruled the day. But it wasn’t all political and geographical concerns or heady theological debates. Leo also was deeply concerned about the individual faith of each member of the Church. “To him, being a Christian was not only about embracing the fullness of the Gospel theologically but living it out in a world filled with hurt, suffering and needs” (Catholic Online). One of his most famous sermons is used in the Office of Readings for Christmas.

Pope Leo the Great was an active servant of the Church. He saw many needs in the Body of Christ and took it upon himself to care for each of them. The Church owes a great deal to Leo’s determination and his awareness of God’s will for his papacy. When we are feeling lost or overwhelmed in how we are being called to be servants of the Father, we can look to Pope Leo’s clarity of vision and wisdom and ask for his intercession and guidance.

Contact the author

Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at