Have you ever seen the movie "The American President" with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening? It's one of those movies that I watch whenever it is on TV no matter what else is on. It's an entertaining movie on a lot of levels, and it talks about some compelling issues, one of which is leadership. In a great exchange on leadership, the President (Douglas) is being challenged by one of his staffers, Lewis (played by Michel J.Fox). In an election year President Shepherd has been hounded in the press by his opponent, Bob Rumson, but has taken the high road and not gotten involved in a muddy character debate. After taking a beating in the polls, here's a copy of the conversation between the two:
Lewis Rothschild You have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.
President Andrew Shepherd Look, if the people want to listen to ...
Lewis Rothschild: They don't have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
President Andrew Shepherd Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.
A FEW THOUGHTS:
"In the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone."
This is very true, and very scary. People, in general, are willing to follow anyone who has a deep passion, a compelling vision, and a loud voice. A painful example of this truth would be Adolf Hitler. That means that as a leader my passion, vision, and voice MUST be tempered with humility, underscored with integrity, and being a pastor, guided by the Spirit of God.
"People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference."
Does this mean that followers are ignorant? Not at all. It means that they often get so caught up in passion that they abandon discernment. As a leader this thought must always keep me grounded and focused. Grounded in the purpose of my leadership, focused in leading people somewhere. Leadership should never be aimless wandering to what I like or feel, but strategic steps closer to a destination. As a pastor, the end result is simple, a deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Any thoughts on leadership? If so, I'd love to hear them ...