Leadership and Responsibility
Childhood experiences can help to create leaders.
For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you. (Deuteronomy 23:14)
Sometimes as children we see things we don’t necessarily understand, but as we get older, we begin to harvest nuggets of wisdom from those abstract events. As a young child, I remember witnessing a scenario that impressed me and helped to shape the mindset I have as a minister of God’s Word.
Two neighboring children were sitting on their porches, bored with nothing to do. Both had been warned by their parents not to leave the porch. One of the boys decided to liven up things, picked up a box of “Pop-Pop Snappers,” and tossed a handful of them in the other boy’s direction. The loud pops caused the innocent boy’s mother to come to the door and sternly chastise him. Without allowing him to speak, she issued him a strict warning to stop the noise, and disappeared back into the house.
The first child witnessed the exchange and laughed at the excitement he was capable of generating. He took a second handful of Snappers and once again tossed them in his neighbor’s direction. The horrified child cringed and waited for his mother to angrily reappear. When she did, the language and warning to her son was much louder. She then disappeared back into the house.
The first child was overjoyed at his success and gathered yet another handful of Snappers, and tossed them with expectation into the other boy’s direction. As they hit the ground, and the second boy prepared to run from his mother’s fury, the door swung open and the second boy’s mother angrily walked through it. This time, however, her attention was directed at the first child, as she walked over to his house to notify his mother of his offense. She had been watching from the kitchen window and witnessed the final toss.
At the time, it was just good entertainment on a hot summer afternoon, but I now see this mother’s actions as being symbolic of the protection that we should expect from our leaders. Leaders will fall short in some areas, but ultimately there should be a point when they prove that their passion, role, and responsibility is to protect those in their care.
An Example of Protection
Throughout history, clergy have always assumed a protective role in society. Rumor has it that Zen Buddhism was brought to China by Bodhidarma. After spending a great deal of time meditating with the monks in the Shaolin Temple, he realized that the monks spent so much time meditating, that they were out-of- shape. Since they were always concerned about the temple being robbed, Bodhidarma began teaching the monks a few basic self-defense techniques.
At that time, Chinese citizens did not receive martial arts training unless they were in the military. So, during the Tang dynasty, when China was at war, the monks, with the assistance of “military veterans turned monks,” were asked to help protect the people.
The monks had to first learn to protect themselves, and after they developed and perfected the art, they used their knowledge and skills to help others when they were in need. They could very well have made a case that they were powerless to defend against attackers. Instead they rose to the occasion and trained others to do the same.
Signs of a Good Leader
A good leader has an honorable character that selflessly serves his/her organization. Three of the signs of an effective leader are:
1. Genuine leadership involves mentoring those around us.
Our lives should be a testimony of God’s grace. We cannot merely tell others what to do; we must show them by the example of our own walk in life. Our children, spouses, coworkers, and those closest to us should be encouraged by the fact that they know they will be mentored and protected in a compassionate manner. In Greek mythology, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus, and his palace. Mentor’s name has come to represent an individual that is a faithful and wise adviser.
2. Genuine leaders reach out to others.
When a leader sees a need, they meet the need. Leaders should always be willing to lend a helping hand or, at the very least, a word of encouragement and support. In the Bible, James 2:15-17 states, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
3. Genuine leaders help others to become leaders as well.
Leaders that have experienced grace in their lives want to pass the blessing on to others. They work with men, women, and children to guide and give direction on how to reap the same success in their lives. Christian discipleship is summed up in the Great Commission. After the resurrection and before He ascended into heaven, Jesus appeared one last time to His disciples. This is the moment that He delivered the famous calling for disciples known as The Great Commission:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Each of these points are examples of traits that are expected of every Christian and each of us should work to make them a part of our standard way of dealing with everyone with whom we come in contact.