One of the unsurprising news items in the week just gone is Theresa May agreeing to stand down in the near future as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party and the depressing odds on front runners for who her replacement might be when elections takes place on who is to replace her. While I wish not to be unkind, at least as far as Brexit is concerned, she has been a terrible leader, and as for her possible successors, none particularly inspire me.
It got me thinking on the wider subject of what constitutes good leadership, which is something most will agree is needed in all aspects of society, whether government, industry, education, on the football field or in the church etc. In trying to find an online definition of leadership I was struck by the many different synonyms: “guidance, direction, authority, control, management, superintendence, supervision; organization, government, orchestration, initiative, influence” etc. but pertinent as these are I will not elaborate too much although I agree the sum total of which helps one to reach a fuller understanding of what good leadership entails. It would be tempting to reflect on examples of good and bad leaders and the also depressing realization, especially when surveying the world stage, of the dearth of good leaders.
Besides reflecting that even under bad leaders good can result, something quite feasible if it is true God is on the throne, there is the thought that depending on what we know or believe about the world we can have widely differing views on who are good or bad leaders. For example, and here I will probably shock those who don’t know me, I believe despite many obvious faults that Donald J Trump happens to be a good, albeit unlikely, leader. I also think, when reflecting on the world stage, we sometimes get the leaders we deserve and the lack of leadership in and by the church, who as a collective have failed in this department, has some bearing, despite the fact evil is to be expected, why the world is in such turmoil.
When I was young, I wanted to be a leader but any objective onlooker might well have concluded that I did not have the qualities. I suspect my motives along with many who aspire to be leaders were partly selfish. Even so, as I reflect on images like sheep needing shepherds to lead them, I lament my failure in this area, because if I had stepped up to the plate more people would have been blessed. Now I am old, such desires have lessened although my desire to make a real difference is stronger than ever. If there is an example to follow it is Jesus of Nazareth who might easily be dismissed as a nobody if it weren’t for his huge following that continues 2000 years later. If there is one leadership characteristic we can point to it is one of servant hood and those who want to be great need to be least.
Whether the next Prime Minister of the UK, a particular community project or when it comes to all sorts of different activities, all right minded persons would surely want there to be good leadership at the top, for that which emanates from the top will have a bearing at every level below. For me, encouraging the next generation of leaders and supporting good people who can occupy those positions remains one of my main priorities. Yet I look forward to the day when there will be perfect leadership when the King returns:
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. 2. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land. 3. Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. 4. The heart of the hasty will understand and know, and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly. 5. The fool will no more be called noble, nor the scoundrel said to be honorable. 6. For the fool speaks folly, and his heart is busy with iniquity, to practice ungodliness, to utter error concerning the Lord, to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied, and to deprive the thirsty of drink. 7. As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil; he plans wicked schemes to ruin the poor with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is right. 8. But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. Isaiah 32