Ever wonder how Thailand has remained “free” while surrounded by communist dictatorships? Me neither. Until I moved here. I have since learned that much of the freedom, relative peace, and general unity in Thailand are attributed to the “servant leadership” of the late King Rama IX. In the wake of His Majesty The King’s death, I watched a documentary on his life. Here are some major themes that emerge:
- Show up. In person. The King and Queen would spend 8 months out of the year traveling to visit the rural poor of Thailand and greeting them face-to-face. One result is that the marginalized did not feel forgotten. He left the palace, drove to their villages, and looked them in the eye with compassion.
- Listen. Rapt attention is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to one another. The King would never allow a precise time schedule because he needed to be “free to stop and talk with people” as they presented themselves. This was while attending 826 official engagements per year.
- Protect daily solitude. When asked why he spent time alone every day, the King explained, “I’m not lonely. I have work to do. The way of doing work is to have some concentration, that is, some peace. And then one can think more clearly. It is a way of preparing myself to be able to do whatever circumstances will have me to do.”
- Seek common solutions for the common good. When asked if his irrigation projects were evidence that Thailand was winning against communist insurgency, the King answered, “Oh I don’t know. But we are winning against hunger. This is what we are doing… We want to help people have a better life. If we make this (project) and they have a better life, the people you call communist insurgents will have a better life also.”
I struggle with all of the above. Often I’m in too much of a hurry to truly “see” people (much less seek them out), to take the time to listen attentively, to spend quality time alone in thought, and to pursue higher purposes (not just getting my way).
All of this points me to the ONE TRUE KING who not only demonstrated, but embodied all of these concepts (no one ever “showed up in person” in a bigger way). And who not only calls me to a deeper love, but empowers me to live out that love.
For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)