The Words of the Lowen Family
"At that very hour the disciples came up to Jesus and said, "Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" So Jesus corned a little child and made him stand up in the midst of them. And he said, "Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever therefore will humble himself like this little child shall be great in the Kingdom of Heaven " (Matthew 18:1-6)
Greatness -- somehow that word conjures up some rather unheavenly visions even to the seeker after the Kingdom of Heaven. Power, might, force. We see ourselves as leaders; we have followers; we work with people whose purpose is to perform our will. Yet in the story above, it becomes rather clear that this is only a foggy vision. It is not at all what true leadership is.
Recently, I have been concerned with the purpose and function of leaders. Why do we need them? What should they do? A leader, I finally concluded, is a lot like a movie director. He pours out the blood, sweat and tears. It is he who makes certain that the actors are seen in their most enhancing poses; he makes certain that they get all of the immortal lines and say them just right. Yet it is his troupe that is admired. Everyone else receives the laurels when things go well. If there is any panning to be done, he gets that. But that is the job of the leader. He is not to be admired. He is only servant to his public.
A true leader, then, must do away with any ideas he may have had of public acclaim.
He must think on all levels at all times: What is best for his followers? What is best for the achievement of their goal? Be must come last in his thoughts. He must sacrifice his sleep and thoughts and feelings -- in short, his whole life, for those who follow him. He must give them the best part and take what is left.
It is only in the fallen world that the leader of any group is heralded through the streets. In the restored world, he is the man who stays up night, working out strategies, while his followers sleep. He is the one who worries about the outcome of every endeavor. He is the one who suffers most when his campaigns are unsuccessful.
Our Leader's life clearly reveals this pattern. Haven't we all at one time or another wondered why we call him "Leader"? Consider his life. He had to go first over the unexplored path (of course, any leader is expected to go first into danger). He had to confront Lucifer and his hordes head-on so that his followers could overcome more easily. He had to take the most difficult path and tread it down, so that for us today that path is bearable.
In the Hungnam prison, did he protest and sulk that he, the Lord of the Second Advent, could be forced to endure a crowded, smelly prison cell? Even when people came to recognize him, did he insist that they serve him? Even more he humbled himself. He shared his meals with his fellow prisoners, he gave his clothing away and wore only tatters. Humbly he prayed to God, forgetting his own humiliation out of concern for Father's Heart. Why did he do these things?
It was because he was more unhappy knowing that those who could be restored to Father only through his life's work were suffering so much. As the true leader of the rest of mankind, he had to do as much as he could for those who followed him. So even for "the disciple with the broken leg", he had to do as much as possible. He had to be the true shepherd, leading his lambs to safety and comfort. The shepherd is certainly wiser than his sheep. Yet it is his very wisdom and their very ignorance that makes him responsible for them. It is thought ill of a shepherd who deserts his sheep in time of danger. He has the knowledge to preserve them, and is expected to use it. So the true leader must be able to sacrifice his life for the sake of his followers. Our Leader is willing to do that.
Yet the idea of being a sacrificial servant to most of us is at best unpleasant. Service would appear to wholly benefit another without any reward returning to the servant. Not only now, but throughout history it has been unseeming for a man to serve his neighbor. When Jesus talked to his disciples of becoming servants if they would be great men, they were surprised, and Peter was shocked that his Master would advocate doing demeaning things like washing feet. The servant's position was, for Peter, something a man did when he could do nothing more uplifting. Yet, Jesus insisted that service was the way for him who would be neat.
Early Christianity, based on Jesus' idea of service, held humility and service as key words. Yet today, who would wash his neighbor's feet? We think of so many things as being "beneath". Our society, which should support such noble ideas sees these very things as base, weak or below the truly worldly wise person.
Therefore, it comes as a shock to many people to see the type of service that we exhibit in our Family. I remember the first day that I came to hear the Principle. How surprised I was when Hillie not only asked if I wanted more food, but actually took my plate and got it for me! It was a really positive memory. Who remembers finding their wash so carelessly left in the washer, not only dried, and folded, but even ironed? Or how many days did you leave a mess behind you when you went to work, and came home to discover that someone had rolled up your bag and hung up your clothes? Perhaps your family hired someone to do that type of work. Would you think of doing that for someone else without pay? Miss Kim, who will someday be known as a saint, did not think those things to be beneath her. She was often an example for people who did the serving in the Center.
I was raised to think that the finest people had others to be their servants. That is not true. The person of heart cannot be a master over another. If he is to merit the blessing of God and the right to use all things, he must be able to serve God and all things.
A gardener does not have dominion over his garden by imply enjoying it. Even when it is hot and he is tired, he must go out and carefully root around the rosebushes; he must cover the delicate plants when it is cold; he must painstakingly pull up stinging nettles and stubborn weeds. Even though he may be superior to that garden, he must serve it. Because Luther Burbank was the best servant, his labor produced the best garden. Only because he invested all of his care into his garden could the plants and flowers respond to him most fully.
Isn't God like that? He has been the greatest servant in the universe, though He is Master and Creator. He has carefully tended the most rebellious children. He has provided for our food and clothing, and above all, our restoration, even though we have ignored Him. He has given 6,000 years of service. If God, who is greater than any person in the universe, can be a servant, cannot we also?
There are few things in the world which will selflessly give themselves to us without some active nurturing on our part. Thus service is like our condition of merit. By caring and helping to sustain an object, we earn the right to have dominion over it. This is true about anything from working in a garden to developing relationships between people, to becoming lord over all things in creation. It's also the only way we can make ourselves like God-having a serving heart. If we want to know God, we have to go this route.
Our attitude in rendering service must be absolutely self-less. If we do nothing more than get a cup of coffee for the person next to us, we must do so not because we are interested in gaining "brownie points" on some mythical heavenly scoreboard, but because our concern for the person we are serving is so great. People intuit when they are being served out of love, and when out of something else. Our motive for service, like every other motive that we have must be pure in order to be accepted by God or man.
On the other hand, in relating on a face-to-face basis, we must treat the other person as more than our equal, as if he were Esau and we were Jacob. We cannot be "penny-wise and pound-foolish". I have seen people who are quick to grab plates and get second helpings of coffee for everyone in sight, undo all their goodness by being judgmental and snappish in relating to those same people away from the dinner table. Service is not a one-aspect deal. It pervades every fact of the personality: physical, spiritual, social and mental.
So if you sew on a button on a roommate's sweater but do not help him with his spiritual problems because you don't like him enough to spend time with him, you have done him little good. He must be kept warm in more than one way.
Whom should we serve? If we really want to experience the widest range of growth, we must be willing to share God's concern for the lowliest person in the center. Because there can be no gain for ourselves in serving this person, our motive develops most purely. We can really see ourselves serving because we want to know God.
No matter how long you may live or how much you may serve, you have never served enough. Your service will go beyond your perfection, beyond the Spirit World, beyond thought, beyond time. That is why it is so important to train yourself now to serve and serve. As long as there is in any corner one person who is unhappy or uncomfortable, you have not served enough. This is how Father thinks. We must become His children by training to think in this way. Just as long as there is one person in the world who has not heard the Principle, you have not witnessed enough. The key words are self-less concern. That is what God has expressed for us; that is what the nature of our Leader is: Unconditional love-the Heart of the Father.
Our Leader continually sets this example for us. When the Korean Family only ate barley and vegetables for 40 days, and many were sleeping in the fields in order to fulfill the conditions for the 40-day movement of 1960, he did these same things, Whatever sacrifice that he asks them to make, he shares with them, oftentimes surpassing their depth of sacrifice through the rigor of his own. When we are in a leadership position, we may wonder why it is that we are called upon to do more than an equal's share of the work: to bear a far greater burden of the struggle than anybody else in the group. The answer is that this is the pattern of the True Leader of the Universe. We can't escape it. We can't circumvent it. Sooner or later, we MUST unite with it.
With the coming of Our Leader, so many are asking the question of themselves as to how they can adequately prepare for his coming. One answer is to try to inculcate into our character this attitude of sacrificial service. If we can do this, then we will be able to relate to him deeply on the basis of his life of service. The life of service is the life of suffering. Yet God is closest to those who bear the greatest burden. We can only know Our Leader and develop a treasured relationship with him on the basis of our depth of our character -- what we are. To change that, our utmost effort is required. Not only effort, but effort focused on the Heart of God -- sacrifice of self through service.