A farmer ambled along the lonely country road heading to his humble farm one dusk evening when he dozed and ran off the road. Ditches were deep in those parts and his overloaded pickup truck sank far into the muddy crevice and came to rest on its side. Unfortunately, the farmer had been hauling both a pig and a cow. Both were trapped under the truck and wailing in pain. Moments later a state trooper happened by and spotted the truck's headlights pointing oddly along the length of the ditch. Stepping from his cruiser to investigate, the trooper heard the squeals of the dying livestock. Being the merciful sort, the trooper drew his service revolver and fired a shot into the head of the suffering cow, killing him instantly. The pig wailed even louder. The trooper likewise relieved him of his misery. At this moment the farmer recovered from his unconsciousness and attempted to free himself from the cab of the crumpled truck. The commotion caught the attention of the trooper who asked, "Is there anybody else in there? Are you injured?" To which the farmer replied, "Nope, never felt better in my life!!!!"
Sometimes serving means different things to different parties. In the case of the "service revolver" in the above story, it was an instrument of mercy for the animals, danger for the farmer. Likewise is our leadership in the lives of those we affect. We may have tendencies and strengths that are effective for some, detrimental to others. This is where the best leaders understand that the most impactful leadership often involves treating people uniquely as individuals.
I know in my own leadership experience I find myself "going gentle" with some while "hitting hard" with others. This is because each of us is a uniquely created and infinitely complex individual. We are made in the image of God with special characteristics, abilities, gifts, and tendencies. I can only hope I've gotten the "touch" of such individualized treatment correct!
However, there is a simpler lesson to be gained from the farmer and the trooper, and that is one of service. The trooper was trying to help. He saw a need and did his duty. This, too, is illustrative of the proper function of a leader. Leaders serve. Leaders are not meant to sit in a position of authority and soak up the benefits of title. They serve again and again from different positions and in various circumstances. In fact, leaders themselves could be said to be 'service revolvers:' going from person to person and from opportunity to opportunity to 'be of' service. Their privileges are not for their pleasure but rather for their purpose.
The purpose of a leader is a multi-faceted consideration, including casting and pursuing a vision, service to others, sacrificing self for larger issues, standing in the gap where others fail to stand, holding strong to principles, fighting for causes, taking responsibility, giving credit, eliminating obstacles, developing more leaders, and empowering and encouraging others. Orchestrations, administration, management, and coordination must also be looked to; usually by placing others with requisite gifts into correct positions. In short, leadership is the giving of what you have to others so they can collectively give (and accomplish) more than otherwise would have been possible. We add when we do, but we multiply when we lead.
Consider your gifts, your position, your abilities, and your blessings. Mobilize those assets in the service of others wherever you are, whoever you are, and with whatever you have, whenever you can. In this way, you'll be leading; you'll be a service revolver. Just don't shoot any farmers.