The donkey awakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride.
He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. “I’ll show myself to them,” he thought.
But they didn’t notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind.
“Throw your garments down,” he said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?”
They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move.
“Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me.”
But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place.
“The palm branches! Where are the palm branches!” he shouted. “Yesterday, you threw palm branches!”
Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother.
“Foolish child,” she said gently. “Don’t you realize that without Him, you are just an ordinary donkey?”
Source | Wayne Rice Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks
(Youth Specialties, Inc. 1994) page 138
Just like the donkey who carried Jesus into the city of Jerusalem, we are most fulfilled when we are in the service of others. When we help another person in minor or major ways, we are no longer just ordinary people, but key players in the building of the kin-dom of God.
Once upon a time there was a priest who spent part of each night making sandwiches for the homeless. He travelled around the poorer parts of the city and distribute them. Even though his day was already full, this late night activity didn’t overwhelm him. It actually made him happy. he didn’t do it out of guilt, duty or any external pressure. He shared freely and openly in a way that made a difference for him, Even when the street people rebuffed his offer of food, he didn’t feel rejected or angry, because he wasn’t doing it for the reward or acceptance or appreciation.
The media found out about him and printed a story about his work. Instantly his reputation grew and he became a minor celebrity. The public, even his fellow priests, started sending him money to support his ministry. Much to their surprise he sent back the money to everyone with a one-line note that said: “Make your own damn sandwich!”
Source | based on a story told in Robert Wicks, Riding the Dragon
(Sorin Books, 2013) page 34
- What is easier, to write a check or to make a sandwich?
- What is most gospel-like, to write a check or to make a sandwich and give it to the hungry?
- What propels your acts of kindness and compassion? Guilt? Duty? External pressures? Fear of rejection? Desire to be liked and lauded? Or do you do what you do out of pure desire and delight?
An old legend tells of a monastery in France well-known throughout Europe because of the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately the monks began to bicker over who should do various chores.
On the third day they met another monk who was also going to the monastery and he joined their party. This monk never complained or shirked a duty, and whenever the others fought over a chore, he would gracefully volunteer and simply do it himself. By the last day the other monks were following his example, and they worked together smoothly.
When they reached the monastery and asked to see Brother Leo, the man who greeted them laughed: “But our brother is among you!” And he pointed to the fellow who had joined them late in the trip.
Source | Michael Josephson in What Will Matter
PONDER AND CONSIDER
- Some people seek leadership positions not so much for what they can do for others, but for what the position can do for them: status, connections, perks or future advantage. As a result, they do service primarily as an investment, a way to build an impressive resume.
- Brother Leo reminds us of another form of leadership, servant leadership. This kind of leadership is more about giving than getting, doing rather than demanding.
- Imagine how much better things would be if more politicians, popes, bishops, priests, educators, business executives and all the many other kinds of community leaders saw themselves as servant leaders?