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‘The mayor as a servant leader’

by Francis N. Tolentino

Only last week, I was fortunate to have graced the gathering the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) in Cebu City for the “Pederalismo Para sa Pagbabago” Luzon Island Cluster Conference. Similarly, I was blessed with the opportunity to be the Guest of Honor for the 2017 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Awarding Ceremony for Central and South Luzon last November 24, as well as for the November 27 and 29 awarding schedules for North Luzon and Visayas Region and the Mindanao Region, respectively. Indeed, it was a rare privilege to be in the midst of our country’s most esteemed leaders.

Indeed, mayors play crucial roles in the sustained peace and development of his or her local government unit. However, more than knowledge and skills which the leader can acquire through study and experience, the integrity and character of a mayor are equally essential, or perhaps more significant elements, in serving his community with honor and integrity. History is replete with stories of exemplary leadership, and the standards that these leaders have set are the same standards we use today to define leadership. To lead, therefore, requires an individual to possess a combination of knowledge and skills, on the one hand, and acumen anchored on character on the other, with each side complementing and reinforcing the other side.

During the LMP conference in Cebu, I was able to share my humble thoughts on servant leadership – the most meaningful example of which is the Lord Jesus Christ’s washing of His disciple’s feet. Despite His greatness, Christ chose to take on the role of a lowly servant, kneeling before every disciple and washing their base. The life and works of our Lord Jesus invite everyone, whether a mayor or not, to embrace servant leadership.

Akin to a father who bears the noble duty to deliver his children and family to the good life, mayors owe their constituent progress, peace and prosperity. We live in an age where many elements would try to corrupt the minds and spirits of leaders who have the power to decide on behalf of his or her community. The temptation for money and power is stronger than ever. This is the reason why more than intellect, leaders should possess strength of character. Just as Jesus Christ, alone and hungry in the desert, refused to be tempted by Satan, mayors should fortify their spirits with prayer and Divine guidance as they lead and serve the people who have trusted them with a public office.

I believe that servant leadership is the only way for Filipinos to realize the dream for positive change, peace and sustainable development. Only through servant leadership can good governance and lasting peace be achieved. If only every leader in this nation will truly embrace servant leadership – that is, Jesus-like, selfless, and humble service to God and community – then we can truly count on glorious days ahead.