When totaled all together, I had eighteen years of education in the areas of History, Social Studies and Government. The final six of my eighteen years of study concentrated most specifically on Political Science and Public Administration, in which I received a bachelor’s and master’s degrees respectively. In all my years of learning, however, it was a single Bible study that determined my philosophy on how I would manage cities. As you will soon read, I want to take the initial step of discovery by letting the citizens of Guthrie know the internal thought process and motives of their City Manager.
The Bible study had a single question: “What is Community?” The dichotomy of the question intrigues me to this day – simple yet profound, easily ignored yet affects each of us on a daily basis. The following is how we defined it on a night many years ago and how I continue to view our world both locally, nationally and internationally.
The first step in community is knowing and being known. We all live under a “Social Contract,” whether we realize or not. We all depend upon each other for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On the national level it is most prominently exemplified by defense and on the local level for safety, jobs, education and basic human services. Not only is it the first step in community, but it is also the fundamental step in order to make a difference in each other’s lives and affect change.
The second step in community is celebrating and being celebrated. Once we know, we must be willing to acknowledge that we truly are “all created equal” and respect the worth of everyone. The most obvious example of this is our innate desire to be “liked.” Social apps, programs and media have had a pervasive impact on our culture, and nearly all of us see on a daily basis how each of us can either build each other up or tear each other down. Great communities decide early to positively celebrate each other.
The third step in community is loving and being loved. I believe this is the goal of most communities: to have pride in where you live, work and play and to have a positive outlook for both personal goals and corporate goals. At this point, an air of exciting energy permeates the community with anticipation of what next great thing and announcement will come. My goal is to take us even further than that.
The final step in community is sacrificing and being sacrificed for. The Bible study did not leave out the central element of my faith. It incorporates the first three elements by showing each of us that within the ultimate sacrifice we are known, celebrated and loved. I believe that this is the hardest step for any community because we are all innately selfish beings, but I want to be the example of a servant leader on a daily basis. I hope you join me demonstrating that a truly successful community is not about how far I can go but by how far we all go together!
Bruce Johnson began his term as City Manager on August 1, 2015 for the City of Guthrie.