Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke about the meaning of service and sacrifice during an appearance Sunday morning at Columbine United Church in Littleton.
Hickenlooper, as part of the church’s “I Am Third” lecture series, told the congregation how he learned about selflessness as a child when his father was dying of cancer.
Hickenlooper’s mother, who was his father’s primary caretaker, had promised to attend her son’s school play, but his father’s illness kept her away.
“I came back from the play and (was) standing on the landing screaming at my mother, ‘Why don’t you come to my stuff?’ ” Hickenlooper said.
Before he could say another word, Hickenlooper’s older brother picked him up, threw him against a wall and told him to think about what their mother was going through.
“It was the first time I understood, that I got it — that it wasn’t all about me,” Hickenlooper said.
“My mother was a small woman … . For her to have to roll my father over halfway in bed, change the sheet and roll him back and get the rest of the clean sheet down, when I was saying, ‘What about me? What about me? Why weren’t you at my play?’
“When I look back on it now, it does give you an appreciation for a real sacrifice and for what a servant leader she was.”
The “I Am Third” lecture series was inspired by Arapahoe High School shooting victim Claire Davis and her parents, Michael and Desiree, said Steve Poos-Benson, pastor at Columbine United Church.
“People get lost in the stress of their normal lives. And what happens is, we tunnel in and we only think about what I need, what my family needs and that’s it,” Poos-Benson said. “Jesus taught that to find yourself, you must lose yourself. The buddha taught that. Krishna taught that. … And you lose yourself by serving and taking care of other people.”
Poos-Benson organized Davis’ memorial and became acquainted with the governor when Hickenlooper visited Claire in the hospital after the shooting in December.
“(Hickenlooper) sat by Claire’s bedside when she was in the hospital. He didn’t have to do that,” Poos-Benson said. “For me, the governor is the epitome of being a servant leader.”
Hickenlooper cited Claire’s parents as examples of how, in times of sorrow and sadness, the suffering often look for ways to serve.
“I feel this in my heart and soul — that people that have gone through such loss, their first thought is how to help others,” Hickenlooper said after Sunday’s service.
Poos-Benson said that asking Hickenlooper, who is running for re-election this year, to speak had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with inspiring his congregation to think of others first.
That message wasn’t lost on Trent Miloserny, 16, a student at Dakota Ridge High School.
“He’s the governor of the greatest state in the country, and he’s talking about being a servant to others,” Miloserny said. “He’s asking what he can do to help others, and not the other way around.”