There’s no doubt that many of us find the medieval era very intriguing. The concept of some things “back in the day” are fascinating – from the kings and knights that governed kingdoms from far away (I’m sure young boys today still dream of becoming valiant knights themselves), castles filled with the sound of music and dancing in enormous ballrooms, to simple etiquette that was displayed on a daily basis (some many wish were still the norm on the grand scale it was back then) – it was truly something to behold.
Characteristics like ‘honouring’, ‘loyalty’ and ‘bravery’ were the talk of the day and serving was a way of life; it was accepted that not everyone was going to be the leader. It seems like only those who dared to be different left behind some sort of legacy, sadly which at the time was frowned upon by many of their peers.
From self sacrificed living to selfish ambition.
Fast forward to the present where many are trying to find a way to be different, where entrepreneurship is a norm and most people want to be the leader and are willing to fight their way to the top. Self-promotion is the way of life for us today. What a different world we find ourselves living in. As a result of our way of living today things like ‘Honour’, ‘Loyalty’, ‘Bravery’ and ‘Serving’ are mostly celebrated when they strengthen and make our position as a leader better.
The truth is that we have lost the art of serving and finding fulfilment in willingly laying down our lives (as many who served back then would have done so their entire life) in order to help and strengthen another person to reach greater heights. Yet when looking at the medieval era, it was considered a privilege and a honour to be in the service of the king or leading commander of an army. Many would willingly hand over the glory and victory to those who were in leadership at the time.
We find that our attitude today has become “but why…?” – “Why should others receive praise and glory when I could have it? Why should their names be made known and not my own?” Of course, this isn’t something we willingly say aloud, but actions do speak louder than words. Make no mistake there were plenty of those thoughts in the medieval era too, but why do we find it so more prevalent today? Perhaps, what we believe “our rights” are have something to do with that. Perhaps, the celebrities we are surrounded by and often admire have brought about a sense of ‘entitlement’ to our lives. You will find that they host many of the shows that push finding the “next big star” amongst the ordinary. An argument can be made that many of them have dropped the standards for what true talent and real leadership should look like today.
While we admire them, I must wonder how many of us would willingly lay down our lives in service to them, promoting them and ensuring that they receive all the glory? Without realising it, we often do just that. Would doing so be to the detriment of those around us and the world we live in, or would it truly bring about a positive change for the good of all? Everyone will answer this last question differently, based on the standards by which you live. Perhaps a thought for many of us as to who we choose to idolise and promote today.
Step back to see the master piece that is still busy unfolding.
We see that those who chose to serve willingly, following and promoting the ones that were leading, felt a sense of fulfilment. What they were doing was for the greater good; they decided to look past themselves and towards the bigger picture. Maybe it’s time that we stop focusing just on our own lives, a small corner on a page part of a bigger picture, and stand back to get a better view of the masterpiece that’s busy unfolding before everyone. If we focus all the attention on ourselves and promote just ourselves, the more likely we are withholding the value we should be adding to the overall picture.
The part you play is extremely important – whether it is to be “seen” or helping somebody else “be seen”. I believe that those who chose to serve (giving up their lives in service to those who were the leaders at the time) must have seen it from this very perspective. A question many (especially those who find themselves in the background) need to ask is this: “Am I going to be the one who takes the focus off of the bigger picture or will I be counted as one that brought it to life?”
I feel it’s important to remind each one of us that true leadership is about raising up all those around you, helping them to believe and see that there is something greater out there for every one of us. Those who accomplish this are the ones people consider and remember as true leaders. As long as you keep promoting yourself, you will never be promoted by those around you.
So, take some time to reflect on the ways of life back then (the attitude and the willingness of those who lived then) and think about what would bring a change to the lives of those around us today. Are we willing to develop some character traits that seem to have been left behind in order to bring about a positive change to those around us?