Selfish Leadership

Today, I was on an airplane coming home from a conference. I was happy because I had an emergency exit row seat and the aisle. The emergency exit row meant that I had lots of legroom for my tall stature. The plane was almost finished boarding and the row in front of me was completely empty. I waited a few minutes to make sure that no one else was coming on to the plane. Then I decided to move from my seat to the empty row to have more room. I was trying to take advantage of the empty seats to have a more comfortable flight. After I moved, an individual boarded the plan and ended up taking my emergency exit row seat. I thought, okay, he’s in my seat, but I have a row to myself. As the door to the plane was about to close, one last individual boarded. Sure enough, his assigned seat was the seat I was in

Now I was in a quandary. Do I go back to my emergency exit row seat and kick the guy out who sat there? Or do I suck it up and sit along the window, crowded, with no legroom? I had to admit that it was my selfishness that caused this whole ordeal. So instead of going back to my original seat, which I had the right to do, I had decided to live with the consequences of my selfish actions. Window seat with no legroom.

I couldn’t help but laugh at myself and look up to God and say, “You got me!” I felt busted by God. I had a very good comfortable seat, but I decided to get a little selfish and see if I could get more room. I paid the price for that. I deserved it.

This experience translated so clearly to my role as a leader in ministry. In a nutshell, the lesson I learned (again!) was that being a servant leader and serving others always pays bigger dividends versus being selfish and serving myself.

On the plane ride today, I practiced selfish leadership instead of servant leadership. In the end, I got the short end of the stick because I put myself before others. That is not what Christ did in his leadership. Neither should I.

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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