To take a distance helps to see something from a broader perspective. A painter may step away from his piece of art from time to time in order to get new inspiration. Similarly, taking a four and a half months break from my service as Temple President was very helpful. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on how I am actually doing. What I, as a person, need to improve, need to work on. I prayed for guidance and insights, and Krishna reciprocated in different ways.
Standing in front of Srila Prabhupada’s Murti at his Samadhi in Vrindavana I offered some prayers. It was Nityananda Prabhu’s appearance day. „Dear Srila Prabhupada, you are a manifestation of Lord Nityananda’s mercy. I am so grateful to be here studying Srimad Bhagavatam in the Holy Land of Vrindavana. Oh, Srila Prabhupada, Your Divine Bhaktivedanta Purports are so amazing! There is so much to discover in your books, such an ocean of wisdom. Please make me an instrument in your hands, let me spread your teachings, let me become a true follower of the Guruparampara!“ Something like that was my prayer. Walking down the steps towards the Mandir, one of the local Srila Prabhupada disciples stood at the corner with a big Maha Garland (from Srila Prabhupada’s room) in his hands. Placing the garland over my shoulders he said: `Thank you so much for your wonderful class you gave the other day!` Amazing, I can’t express how I felt. It was as if Srila Prabhupada personally reciprocated with my prayers. I felt deeply touched and truly blessed.
In some way it might not be a big thing, because in Vrindavana there are so many flower garlands being given to different devotees. But that little gesture meant a lot to me. And it struck me even more, when I realized what a responsibility I myself have towards younger devotees. I started to reflect, how often do I express my appreciation to those who work under me? How often do I say thank you for this wonderful service? Sometimes it does not need much. Just a few words, a small gesture, a `how are you doing` can make huge difference. It was a very healthy experience to be a junior again. To be surrounded by much more advanced devotees. It showed me how it feels to receive the kindness of seniors.
I contemplated more and asked myself: How much have I actually become a true leader? Alright, I tried my best over the last years and it was good enough to bring some harmony and stability in the community, that’s fine. But in order to bring about a real chance, something else is needed. True leadership! The following statements give some idea what that means:
„Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.“ 1
„You don`t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are.“ 2
For many years I was more concerned about my own spiritual life, how to maintain my sadhana and that’s also important. But now I realize that if I want to really make a difference I need to focus more on helping others to also take their next steps. In other words the spiritual growth of those under me is my main duty. But this, of course is easier said than done. It requires spiritual strength. Without it you can`t touch the heart of others. Therefore Srila Prabhupada said:
“So far as being leader is concerned, leader means spiritually not materially. This you should understand very clearly. If spiritual potency and strength is there, then material intelligence will automatically follow. We must have a solid foundation of chanting and following the regulative principles. Then one is fit to lead others.” 3
Remembering the kindness of that Prabhupada disciple on that day of Nityananda Trayodasi I feel encouraged to become a better leader, a more caring and personal leader understanding the principle: „We rise by lifting others“! 4
1 - Statement by John Francis Welch Jr. (83), American retired business executive and author
2 - Statement by Robyn Benincasa, a World Champion Adventure Racer, motivational speaker
3 - Srila Prabhupada Letter to Jagajivana, 6 September 1974
4 - Statement by Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-99), American lawyer
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