Presidents’ Day, originally billed as a time to celebrate the birth of George Washington, is a day to honor leaders of years past. This day offers us an opportunity to contemplate the type of leadership we need as a society and as a church.
Dr. Larry Spears writes, “The work of leadership education today takes place in a world that is increasingly glutted with information and yet starved for wisdom.” (Spears) This is why we need Godly leadership throughout the Army dedicated to the service of others with the intention of positively transforming lives.
What we need is genuine leadership in every aspect of Army life. Leadership that elevates rather than denigrates, that stimulates rather than manipulates. We are desperately in need of Godly leadership that emphasizes community and connectedness rather than self-protection and self-aggrandizement. While this life-giving, life-affirming leadership may seem out of reach, it is possible through:
Plato reminds us that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Too often people take the easy road, working blindly toward the achievement of their own self-centered desires. A truly effective leader strives for the self-awareness that comes from a true relationship with God. When we come to the realization that our leadership starts not with what we do, but rather who we are, not only will we be different, but The Salvation Army will also be different.We will no longer lead through the lens of self-doubt, but rather with the confidence that comes from understanding our identity. We will no longer speak with another person’s voice, “mouthing words . . . or mimicking the language of some other leader” (Palmer) but will instead speak through the truth of who we are, children of God.
- Authentic Love
It is our love and Christian compassion for one another that allows us to empower and elevate others. Genuine leaders act not out of selfish ambition, but from a sincere desire to love and honor others. C.S. Lewis reminds us “No one ever talks to a mere mortal . . . your neighbor is one of the holiest object presented to your senses.” Authentic love and care allow others to learn, grow, risk, and even endure failure.
- A Desire for Positive Transformation of Others
As genuine leaders, we must strive for the elevation of others, helping them mature and grow in awareness of their identity in Christ. True leadership “achieves what is apparently impossible: bringing transformative experiences to the realm of the ordinary, to the everyday events that, cumulatively, define our lives and shape our experiences.” (Greenleaf) Rather than cajole, coerce, or force we must train, empower, trust, and through the power of a relationship with our Lord, transform.
- A Life of Service
Prompted by our belief in God, we must strive to attain more than our own egocentric desires. This “Copernican revolution that takes place within us dislodges the ego from its central place in our private little world as we open ourselves to a higher influence and acknowledge its primacy.” (Thompson) Love, obedience, and service to God find expression through service to others. Jesus tells us that, “the greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 23:11 (NIV)
This Presidents’ Day, you may want to consider the type of leader God has called you to be.
Colonel Ivan K. Rock
Chief Secretary – USA Eastern Territory