Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave;
even as the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve...
Today’s society is searching for strong, effective leaders, and traditional leadership skills are not enough. Leadership should be undertaken as a service to the greater good of others, rather than for more selfish purposes. That’s why McMurry University offers a unique, exciting program for students not only to gain general education credits, but also to become involved in the Abilene community.
While the program offers a number of courses, its major component is the Servant Leadership class, SLD 1310. Inspired by Robert K. Greenleaf’s concept of the servant as leader and McMurry’s Christian heritage, the course exposes the student to the nature, styles, and skills of leadership; and introduces the concept of service in leadership and leadership in service. Taught in an interactive atmosphere, two of McMurry's professors lead a group lecture each week, teaching the principles of leadership.
A second session each week is composed of small groups, led by juniors and seniors trained in the Servant Leadership concept and in group dynamics. Each small group is designed as a seminar/discussion venue for the leadership skills introduced in the lectures. The groups gain hands-on experience as they apply those concepts and techniques through extensive work with local non-profit entities in the Abilene community.
Students who complete the basic servant leadership course are eligible to become student preceptors. Preceptors facilitate small group activities during the second day of class each week and lead small groups in service learning projects. They are paid on an hourly basis, up to ten hours per week, through the McMurry Work Study program.
Students completing SLD 1310 are also encouraged to prepare a co-curricular transcript. Information about volunteer and service activities over the course of one's college career can be submitted to the servant leadership office. A professional pamphlet highlighting the student's co-curricular activities will be published. Co-curricular transcripts are helpful tools when seeking employment after college.
Sophomore, junior, and senior level courses in servant leadership are available as well. Students may choose a concentration in servant leadership through the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies major. This major combines 18 to 21 hours from each of three fields of study to constitute a B.I.S. major. For instance, a B.I.S. major who wishes who is seeking a career working with charitable foundations is combining Servant Leadership, Business, and Religion for his B.I.S. degree.
While fulfilling three credit hours of the general education requirements, the course and its field experiences inspire students to see servant leadership as a way of life rather than just a brief experience in their academic careers. In the words of participants:
Servant Leadership at McMurry University has given me the leadership skills to work and survive in corporate America.
I believe that the Servant Leadership program at McMurry has really prepared me for life after graduation. I possess not only the skills to be a leader, but the motivation and concern to get involved in the community around me.
The Servant Leadership program has opened my eyes to the world around me, and made me aware of what really goes on in our community.