Item IV.D of the preceding philosophy of education gives the rationale for what, in the American evangelical church, is commonly called “servant leadership.” It’s the idea that true leadership has less to do with someone’s outward signs of rank than with that person’s willingness to serve others. Put more crudely, it’s based not on what the leader can do to people but on what he or she is willing to do for them.
Mark 10:42–45, the concept’s primary text, is typically thought to apply only to life within the church of Jesus Christ. As with so many good ideas, however, this one can be observed in the world around us, where it simply makes good sense. Let me show you three individuals who have demonstrated it to a degree we can only touch upon here.
Scott Sigler (most recently Nocturnal, Contagious) is one of the busiest men in podcast fiction. Despite this, despite his status as an honest-to-Patrick New York Times Bestselling Author — and despite having announced his intention to take over the planet as its Future Dark Overlord™ (“The plaid tanks will ROLL!”) — he took considerable time to advise beginning podcast storytellers like Seth Harwood and J.C. Hutchins, helping them to avoid various pitfalls and develop their advantages in the process of turning their written work into audio. (Sigler and Harwood now present this information in more structured form as “Author Boot Camp” in the Bay Area.) Though hugely talented in their own right, they wouldn’t have gotten so far so fast without his help.1
J.C. Hutchins (the 7th Son trilogy). He’s no longer working for a newspaper, but Hutch still does excellent interviews; and his talk shows Hey, Everybody and The Ultra-Creatives have sought out and highlighted many a writer for us to discover. Like the other two men cited here, he’s an innovative marketer — and when he likes a book, story, or other project, he’ll do his very best to promote the living daylights out of it. When, after hearing a Hey, Everybody episode, I told him he was the one I wanted to publicize my book if-and-when, Hutch replied, “You make it happen, I’ll make it happen.”
His breakneck writing schedule on a contracted (and top-secret) novel gave rise to the #SOLIDARITY meme, in which he and other participating writers, like a modern-day “cloud of witnesses” (see Hebrews 12:1) spurred each other on by posting their own daily word counts on Twitter. At least two of the other writers produced books (and good ones) as a result.2
Tee Morris (most recently MOREVI Remastered, The Case of the Singing Sword: A Billibub Baddings Mystery), the Jedi Master of social media, has for years focused his efforts on teaching others, whether in the classroom or through podcasts such as “The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy,” for writers, and “In Our Right Minds,” promoting success in business through the use of creativity. Although he could so easily refer “how do I do such-and-such?” questions to his books Podcasting For Dummies, Expert Podcasting Practices For Dummies,3 and the forthcoming All a Twitter, he instead is always ready to share his experience with those who ask. He’ll answer your question on Twitter, for that matter — if the answer is 140 characters or less. (Even if it isn’t.) In addition, this professional actor also lends his talents to others’ audio dramas without charge, and freely gives his time to causes like the Joe Murphy Memorial Fund.
Most telling is this: Although proclaiming himself “the Uber-Nemesis of ALL fiction writers!”4 he has nonetheless done everything in his power to promote those very same writers — even going so far as to plan and execute a book tour with New Zealand storyteller Philippa Ballantine, doing the labor himself, to expose her work to potential U.S. readers.5 Single-handedly Tee has advanced the use of the dictionary, if only by the thousands of listeners regularly consulting it, scratching their heads and wondering if they’re understanding the word nemesis correctly.
Is that all?
There are others, of course. Mur Lafferty‘s (Playing For Keeps, the Heaven series) long-running podcast I Should Be Writing exists to inform and encourage writers (and herself) in developing their craft. Phil Rossi (Crescent, Eden, et al.) never passes up an opportunity to spread the word about someone else’s project; go down the list of recent posts at www.crescentstation.net and see how few items are actually about him. When Chris Lester was unable personally to receive a Podcast Peer award for The Metamor City Podcast, his “nemesis” P.G. Holyfield was ready and willing to step in and accept the award on his behalf — even though P.G.’s own Murder at Avedon Hill had lost in that same competition.6 Look around; you’ll find more.
Okay. Now suppose you’re visiting Twitter or Facebook or some other social medium, and two people contact you and ask you to do something. One is John Q I-Never-Show-Up-Except-to-Sell-You-Something. The other is Scott, or Hutch, or Tee.
Which of the two will win your cooperation?
- In the first print edition of his novel Ancestor Sigler named Hutchins as his “nemesis” (and in his podcasts he speaks his protégé’s name in a serpentine hiss: “Hutchinsssssss…”), unwittingly pioneering the helper-nemesis theme among various authors. If Hutchins were truly Sigler’s nemesis, though, then like Dr. Frankenstein, the FDO™ would have no one to blame but himself. [↩]
- Philippa Ballantine’s Digital Magic forthcoming Geist, Tee Morris’s The Case of the Pitcher’s Pendant: A Billibub Baddings Mystery. Hutch made his deadline, and the book has just been published as the groundbreaking Personal Effects: Dark Art. [↩]
- I’m still wondering how “dummies” and “expert” fit in the same title. [↩]
- It’s a long story. [↩]
- Recently New Zealand returned the favor. [↩]
- P.G. later commented, “I suck at this Nemesis thing.” That’s a “failure” we can all get behind. [↩]