“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” — Rosalynn Carter
Until sitting down to write about leadership, I thought I knew what leadership was. But upon reflection, I see that I really don’t. I have made several attempts to put my thoughts into words, but every definition leaves me in want. What I have determined is that leaders must possess a vision that extends well beyond their lifetime. They must also be so dedicated to their spiritual ideal that it alone determines the boundaries of their evolution. Furthermore, I believe that while a leader must be for the people, they must be willing to walk away from them should the masses turn toward something less than the ideal.
I know that I have a lot to learn about this subject. It is a great contributor to my decision to pursue a degree in theology. Looking at today’s world, I see a poverty that is not addressed enough. We hear very often about lack of food, water, and other basic human needs in every part of the world. We see economic decline, loss of jobs, and millions upon millions of people suffering from depression. Witnessing the appearance of all of this we have come to believe that it is the true state of the world. This is not the case. The only lack in this world is of leadership and our awareness of our inherent worth.
This planet has enough resources to provide for the basic needs of every man, woman, and child born on it. The problem is that this is not a priority for most of the world leaders or their supporters. Instead we use our resources to horde whatever we can get and to protect ourselves from losing that which we hold so dear. But if we consider for a moment that if we dedicated our resources to healing the wounds of each other and ensuring that everyone’s basic needs were met, there would be less need for protection. The question I keep asking myself is,”How do we work to shift our mindsets in order to set our sights on creating a world where everyone is fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated?”
In reflecting on leadership, I become aware of my own judgments on our “leaders” of today. It almost brings me to tears when I consider that many of the people at the front of the line have come to believe that leadership is synonymous with crowd-pleasing. Acting more as poli-tainers and Chief Entertainment Officers (CEO) they undeniably make it their business to give their audience what they want in exchange for the trappings of popularity. Do I blame them? No. I am here as a witness—not as a judge. In fact, in many ways I feel sorrier for those in front because I cannot help but consider the souls of those who are aware that they are feeding a system that perpetuates lack and congests the flow of global prosperity.
By my soul, I do not make these statements as a condemnation, but rather as an appeal. My heart tells me that the situation that we find ourselves in is not born from malice, but from fear. Somewhere, somehow, we became convinced that there was not enough and as a result we became takers rather than receivers. In today’s world I think it falls upon the individual to pursue an ideal greater than themselves and to become leaders in their circles. We can’t keep waiting for someone else’s permission. We must take off our blinders and help our neighbors to do the same. After all, as it says in Matthew 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” In my ideal, this is the platform upon which every true leader should stand.