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Monday, August 6, 2012

Three Pillars of Leadership within a Democratic Context

Benjamin Franklin

  1. Good-Natured: showing or reflecting good nature (as pleasantness, affability, geniality, and kindliness) : marked by a disposition to please
  2. Well-Tempered: treated so as to develop the desired degree of hardness and elasticity
  3. Humility: the quality or state of being humble in spirit : freedom from pride or arrogance [Source of Definitions: Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary]
Consider the three pillars of leadership within a democratic context.

A good leader likes people. This is perceptible by a good-natured ambiance when in his presence. He has a disposition to please and at a minimum a desire not to needlessly provoke.

Nevertheless, a leader needs much more than kindness. He needs to have the qualities of well-tempered steel – inveterately strong, yet flexible. A good leader has none of the brittleness of a prig nor the obstinacy of a jerk. He is tempered by wide experience in practical affairs and thus has substantiated firsthand (often through trial and error) the essential need for principled integrity - however abstract, remote, and unnecessary it may seem to the uninitiated.

Thirdly, leadership requires a humility that places facts before authority. A spiritual humility is likewise required. In this regard if God did not exist, he would have to be invented. Such a requirement is necessary for practical reasons. For it is the nature of power to aggrandize itself without limit when there are no checks. While it is possible to create institutional checks, on a personal psychological level submissive humility is only established through recognition of a higher power – a supreme being. Democracies with their emphasis on individual rights especially need this check in place to make governance tenable. Christianity is attractive in this regard for it combines a higher power – a worship of God – with love of neighbor (a significant but different empowerment), thereby jointly undergirding with enabling humility the social contract. The creators of our democracy clearly understood this as is evidenced by the following remarks. The understanding arises that while religions are inadmissible as formal state institutions, the belief in God and love of neighbor are fundamental to the survival of the democracy - a genuine miracle in its creation.

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this - that it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity." - John Quincy Adams
(UC) "He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world." - Benjamin Franklin
(UC) "It can not be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions but on the gospel of Jesus Christ." - Patrick Henry
"The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His this we owe our free constitutions of government." - Noah Webster
"Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams

It is my sincere belief and hope that leadership should not – and will not – be a singular or rare occurrence but widespread – even universally so. This is based upon the following understanding of leadership: it is sourced in humility both as to the physical and spiritual; it is founded upon a structured and well-tempered character; it is filled with good-nature punctuated by affability and kindness. In this context, the blind quest for limitless power is transformed into something radically different--servant leadership. In a representative democracy it is lethal lunacy for each man to lust after egotistical kingship. A healthy matrix within which the state and the larger society can thrive depends upon substantial moral fiber, grace, and generosity.

1. Come, thou almighty King,
help us thy name to sing,
help us to praise!
Father all glorious,
o'er all victorious,
come and reign over us, Ancient of Days!

2. Come, thou incarnate Word,
gird on thy mighty sword,
our prayer attend!
Come, and thy people bless,
and give thy word success,
Spirit of holiness, on us descend!

3. Come, holy Comforter,
thy sacred witness bear
in this glad hour.
Thou who almighty art,
now rule in every heart,
and ne'er from us depart, Spirit of power!

4. To thee, great One in Three,
eternal praises be,
hence, evermore.
Thy sovereign majesty
may we in glory see,
and to eternity love and adore!

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