Where are the Founding Father caliber of leaders in our day? Lately the Lord is convicting/challenging me about how pervasively a feeble, beleaguered tone in leadership is excused and validated…starting in my sphere of influence as a husband, father, and pastor. I just read a new book entitled Killing England that reminded me of the noble courage and risks many willingly embraced for love of country and posterity:
“If the new commander-in-chief (Washington) can successfully raise, train, feed, clothe, and equip an army, he must still find a way to defeat the British regulars, widely considered the world’s greatest fighting force. Should he lose, this new general will not merely be placed in captivity as a prison of war, he will be treated as a traitor to the British Crown and hanged for high treason.
This will not, however be an ordinary hanging. High treason is considered the greatest capital crime a man can commit against the king of England. The punishment is extraordinary, ensuring a slow and hideous death. It will begin when the accused is tied to a horse and dragged to the gallows. He will then be hanged by the neck, but cut down before he dies so that he remains alive for what comes next, which is the slicing open of his abdomen and the burning of his intestines as they dangle outside his body. Only then will this general have his head cut off. His corpse will then be cut up into four parts, all of which will be delivered to the king.
But the punishment will not end there. All lands and monies will be confiscated from this unlucky man’s estate. And, of course, if the general’s wife should also be accused of treason for conspiring with her husband, she will be burned alive.” (Killing England, p. 23)
Wow! I was shocked to truly stop and consider for the first time the scary density of danger posed to this emerging leader. I know the language is shockingly graphic, but since when has leadership ever been easy? George Washington, who assumed these risks, carved out the country many of us enjoy not from a position of personal comfort but with a posture of breath-taking, high-stakes courage! To my fellow leaders, we cannot have it both ways-enjoy a resistance-free existence and be out front blazing an engaging path to the glorious future. If you find yourself tempted to do so, you are foolishly fighting the irresistible inertia to which every true, God-inspired leader at home, career, community, and ministry must yield.
Paul, a leader who knew a thing or two about hardship, chimes in with 2 Timothy 2:2-4,
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Jesus, the ultimate example, is described in Luke 9:51,
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Here is a maxim that becomes more true in my mind with every passing year: The moment you develop a victim complex is the moment you cease to be a high-impact leader. Stop being soft. Stop being a woe-is-me wimp. Soldier up as a modern-day Washington…not for a man-carved Rushmore but to elevate the cause of Christ, to exert our Spirit-enabled giftings, and to enlist the next generation of spiritual and relational patriots.
Oswald Chamber sums up the necessity of this influential, legacy-building tenacity well, “You cannot keep yourself fit if you give way to self-pity.”