What Does It Mean To Be A Public Servant? -Part 2
By Jason Bradley
A while ago, I wrote an article titled, “What Does It Mean To Be A Public Servant?” Still today, it is one of the most popular blog entries on this site (take that, Andrew Richter). I thought it was time to revisit this concept, as some time has passed, and I feel both worse about the current state of politics, and more hopeful of the future.
This last election cycle has taught me a lot about entitlement, hubris, and mean-spiritedness. It has also taught me a lot about service, dedication, and compassion. These are the two forces that seem to be at work against each other in our society. There seems to be a lot more of the former, and a lot less of the latter. I saw a group of candidates in Crystal that were out talking to people, listening to their concerns, and volunteering at functions in the city to make it a better place. I saw another group that acted like they had a right to their seats on the Council, sat in their ivory towers, and condescended to anyone that disagreed. I saw them struggle to uphold a broken system of loyalty to party above people, and then when it failed them, they doubled down and immediately forced through a contentious piece of legislation and flaunted the fact that they had no intention of bringing it back to their constituents. It made me rather sad to see the way that they put their own interests above that of the people they were sent there to serve. Now, they are threatening to do it again with 100% bonding for the public works building before they leave office.
What have we become? I see it everywhere I go. We have lost our way in the flurry of human worries and pressures. We give dirty looks to people that cut us off in traffic, who feel like their rightful place is in front. Others chew out the unwitting waiter, attendant, or teller for daring to cross our path. I recall a wise saying, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Any of us that have ever been to a wedding have probably heard the following: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
You see, we need to learn to love others as ourselves. We have to stop demanding that we are treated better than others, have our place at the head of the line, and always get our own way. We go home after a hard day at work, shut ourselves in with our families, and don’t give a second thought to the world’s disadvantaged. While government makes itself out to be these benevolent kings, they are simultaneously gathering power and adulation unto themselves. That love for my neighbors is what started this group so many years ago. People in my neighborhood were losing their homes and businesses, because our leaders were in love with a plan that would bring them praise, not in love with their people. These people needed a voice. I think they finally have one in this new Crystal City Council.
This is not a Crystal problem. This is a you problem… it is a me problem. That is a tough pill to swallow. I have to be so careful that my work here is rooted in concern for my neighbors in Champlin, Big Lake, Eagan, and beyond. The second this all becomes about me, I am in trouble. All I’ve done here is lost. I challenge you to make sure you get involved in your city, not because you want to, but because serving your neighbors will give you a different perspective on things. The more we serve others, the more we change. Our hearts grow softer, and we see things differently. These are the types of people we need in government, and we only get there if we decide to change ourselves.
So with that, put down the book until bed time, set the DVR, and walk away. Go serve at a food shelf, steak dinner, school, or church. Take your kids. Teach them to serve with you. Show them it is important. Be kind to others. Complain less, and have more grace for others’ mistakes.
Be the best private servants you can be, and if your “public servants” are only serving themselves, give us a shout. We are at your service.