Leadership. Some people are leaders; Some are followers; Most of us seek leaders whom we can trust.
Keshavan Nair wrote a book titled, A Higher Standard of Leadership: Lessons from the Life of Gandhi. The author identifies three principles of leadership.
#1 A good leader possesses a single standard of conduct. He/She does not employ one moral code for public life and lives by much different guidelines, or no guidelines, privately. Think about Christ. His teachings have validity because of the way He lived, and died. He was consistent.
#2 An effective leader sees service as the purpose of leadership. Jesus said, “…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28 ESV) A true leader does not exploit his/her position to enlarge his/her bank account or to inflate his/her ego, but to improve life, in some way, for someone else. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor-theologian, described Jesus as a “man for others.” His self-image as a servant made Him a great leader.
#3 Moral Principles shape leaders’ goals, decisions, and strategies. Stephen Ambrose wrote in To America, “…of all our Presidents, the one who used the words ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ more than any other, and who did the most to exalt right-doing, was Theodore Roosevelt.” Perhaps, that is one reason his likeness is represented on Mt. Rushmore and forty other presidents aren’t. Jesus’ primary goal was to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Not only is the Kingdom a reality of God-awareness and “right-doing,” but also Jesus’ goals, decisions, and strategies were based on and inspired by the moral directive of obedience to God.
These three principles mentioned above came to my attention in the context of selecting leadership within the Church. They certainly apply in that regard.
However, since this is election year, it seems to me that candidates who are seeking political office could also be scrutinized according to these principles. Integrity, faithfulness, and humble service might be standards by which we could discern a candidate’s leadership potential. As far as we are able to perceive those attributes through the glitz, glamor, and cacophony of a campaign, our decisions could be informed by that person’s behavior.
The elections to be held in November should be the topic of our prayers.
As an interesting aside- I read not too long ago that Gandhi, a Hindu, was strongly influenced by the teachings of Jesus, especially in respect to non-violence.