On Monday in Longwood, Florida, Martha Kirby delivered a secular invocation during a Commission meeting.
Thank you Mayor, Commission Members, Staff, and community members for allowing me this opportunity to offer opening words for tonight’s meeting and for the good work you will do here together on behalf of our beautiful community and its residents.
As I began contemplating what to say this evening, I Googled the City of Longwood and found excellent words of inspiration right on your home page. The first phrase of the mission statement of Historic Longwood is “to foster citizen trust by practicing open, accountable, and responsive government.” What an excellent idea!
Further searching led me to information on the commission-manager model employed by Longwood: elected commissioners representing the community and its citizen’s needs and wishes; and an appointed manager to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served. In addition, there is a section encouraging citizen activism by promoting open communication.
Reading these words, I was reminded of the term “servant leader” — one who focuses on the growth and well-being of people and communities to which they belong; a way of behaving in leadership that allows shared power and collaboration.
I offer for your consideration and reflection (from the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership) several important characteristics of servant leaders that we should embody as we work together through tonight’s agenda and beyond:
Listening — to each other and to all who need to be heard
Empathy — for all stakeholders
Awareness — of the uniqueness of each of us and our shared humanity
Conceptualization — developing clarity in thought and purpose
Foresight — what effect will our decisions have?
Stewardship — careful and responsible management
Commitment — to the growth of people
Building community — through engagement and trust
Practicing these behaviors with intent, having confidence in yourselves and in the citizens of Longwood; working together courteously and respectfully; and making the most of everyone’s unique talents, contributions, and differences will truly make the City of Longwood an outstanding place to work and live.
Together, may we bring our best selves to this service and to this work, hand in hand, with each other and with our community.
The Central Florida Freethought Community is organizing several more of these invocations all over the state. You can see their running list — along with a compilation of transcripts of secular invocations around the country — right here.
(Thanks to CFFC’s David Williamson for the video and transcript)