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Dux servit? Dux ministrat? Something else? I would like to use this as a motto for a club.

I am using leader in the sense of "Someone in a leadership position serves" or "One of the characteristics of a leader is that he serves the people around him".

  • Do you want a translation or it may also be a quote? Mottos frequently (preferently?) are citations or paraphrasing of ancient works. – Rafael Mar 21 '18 at 16:26
  • Thank Joonas for your help, and Rafael for the thoughtful question. I'm grateful for a translation, although an ancient citation would give it added credence. – Bob Sylvain Mar 21 '18 at 16:32
  • @BobSylvain BTW among your translations, I like dux ministrat. You may also want some other word for leader (a dux is also an army general, e.g. magnus, primus [inter pares]) – Rafael Mar 21 '18 at 20:09
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Caveat: you may or may not feel comfortable with a motto with religious background, but the concept we have today of a leader as a servant has had a strong influence from Christianity, so personally I don't see any harm in using it even if you/your club is not religious at all. Moreover, there is precedent of this specific motto being used by non-religious groups

I propose:

Non ministrari sed ministrare (Mt 20:28)

Literally means [I have come] not to be served but to serve. The context is Jesus explaining his disciples that anyone who wants to become great among you must be [each other's] servant (Mt 20:26.) This is the base of the western concept of exerting leadership/power by serving.

It has been the motto of a number of educational institutions from different, Christian and non-Christian backgrounds (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4) and at least one bishop (presumably more.)

Side comments:

  1. In Spanish it is common to call a country's President Primer Mandatario (something in the line of first mandatary/trustee, first one being mandated, even at the point that mandatario has kind of lost its original meaning and is at times translated as leader.)

  2. Most Popes, as well as some Western civil rulers have considered themselves servants at the point of coining and using the title servus servorum Dei (servant of the servants of God.) Of course some have used the title just as a formality but also some have trully meant it.

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My suggestion is dux servit ductis, "leader serves those (s)he leads". A mere dux servit is also fine, but adding the people being served and lead gives it more nuance. And it sounds better if you ask me.

In a similar spirit, you could say ducere est servire, "to lead is to serve".

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Dux servit was the first thought that came to my (non-expert) mind.

Less terse but still epigrammatic:

Etiam servit qui ducit.

The reversed word order might give it the kind of poignancy that you're looking for.

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