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A popular fable known as “The Last Wish of Horville Sash” (original author unknown) offers a good conclusion to our study of servant leadership. Horville Sash had a very humble job in the offices of the largest corporation in the world. He worked as a mail clerk in the lowest reaches of the building doing what he could do to help other people with their jobs. Often he wondered what went on on the floor just above his, but he did not dwell on it too long.
Then came a day when Horville found a bug scurrying across the floor. As the mailroom clerk, Horville had only bugs to command. He raised his foot to flatten the bug when it spoke: “Please don’t kill me,” it said. “If you let me live, I’ll give you three wishes.”
Horville figured that even if he didn’t get the wishes, a talking bug could make him a lot of money. So he let the bug live, and the bug asked him what he wanted for his first wish. “To be promoted to the second floor,” said Horville. The next day Horville’s boss came in and told him he would move up to the second floor that very day.
Horville walked into the second floor like a conquering general, but soon he heard footsteps on the floor above him. He said to the bug, “My second wish is to be promoted floor by floor until I reach the very top; until I am in charge of the company.”
“Done,” said the bug, and floor by floor he moved his way through the ranks: 10th floor, 20th floor, 50th floor, 90th floor, and finally to the very top floor. He was as high as he could go: Chairman of the Board; CEO, corner office on the top floor of the building.
Then one day he heard footsteps above him. He saw a sign that said: “STAIRS.” He went up and found a rooftop and there he found one of his clerks near the edge of the building with his eyes closed. “What are you doing?” Horville asked. “Praying,” came the answer. “To whom?” Pointing a finger toward the sky the boy answered, “God.”
Panic gripped Horville. There was a floor above him? He couldn’t see it. All he saw was clouds. He couldn’t hear the shuffling of feet. “Do you mean there is an authority over me?” Horville summoned the bug. It was time for this third and final wish. “Make me God,” he said. “Make me the highest. Put me in the kind of position only God would hold if he were here on earth.”
The very next day Horville Sash awakened to find himself in the basement, sorting the mail, and doing what he could to help others to be the best that they could possibly be. That’s how Horville Sash learned what Jesus taught, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.”
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister, First Christian Church, Vandalla MO