What does it take to walk into the most powerful office in the country every day yet not let that go to your head?
It would take one who is grounded and level-headed, not easily affected by power, prestige and privileges. THE BUTLER is a semi-fictional account of Eugene Ellen (1919 – 2010) who served as a butler in the White House for over three decades. Like Nehemiah, Joseph and Daniel of the Bible who served kings, he accepted the calling to serve as a butler, and knew that his place was to let presidents be presidents, regardless how long he served as a butler.
Ellen never let familiarity on the job and with powerful presidents distort his concept of self. “You don’t hear or see anything in the room.” Those who serve kings know that they have to keep their comments, opinions, and emotions to themselves. They do not humanize their roles. Not for a moment do they drop their composure, alertness and response in any situation.
Not everyone can serve kings or presidents. People in powerful positions have complex undertakings that cannot be easily explained or their effects seen over a short time. Those who serve them have to be mature, wise and so in touch with themselves that they know that anything is subject to the error of flawed assumptions and conclusions. They know that kings need to do what they need to do, and they are responsible for taking care of kings – not their decisions. They are impartial towards good and bad kings.
Those who have served kings long enough understand that the most dangerous and challenging moments are when kings confide their feelings. Kings and presidents do not need friends, neither do they need servants to counsel them. That’s how kings remain kings. Populists rarely make good kings for kings often become public enemy no. 1; whatever policies and whichever side they take, there will always be people who disagree with what they do or say, or dislike their personality.
Those who serve kings don’t engage in gossip or murmurs that trivialize or belittle kings. They serve kings each day, yet their lives are not enmeshed with the kings’ lives. They do not idolize or become infatuated with their kings. They serve kings and keep a professional distance comfortable for kings to be kings, presidents to be presidents, CEOs to be CEOs. And as they do, they know that many will benefit from a head that is well-served.