I remember, as a third grader, visiting my great-grandmother. She had been a girl at the time of the Civil War, and when I recited a poem I'd learned about Abraham Lincoln, I was shocked to hear her criticize him. To me, Lincoln was a hero – the president who ended slavery.
To her, he was a man from Illinois with many flaws. This raises an important point: Time may idealize historic figures, but upon closer inspection, failings among even the best leaders point to the need for a higher sense of leadership.
Today, contentious factions and flawed strategies are arising at national levels, spreading to state and local governments, and playing out in businesses, in clubs and organizations, and in families. This is nothing new. The biblical prophet Isaiah lived at a time of crisis not unlike our own. In fact, several of the same cultures were at war in the 8th century BC.
Terrorism in the Middle East caused Isaiah to proclaim: "The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us" (Isa. 33:22). To me, this is the key to reaching a higher direction for leadership. And the historic record supports it. Isaiah witnessed the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the siege of the Assyrian king. A situation hurtling toward inevitable disaster evaporated, virtually overnight.
So Isaiah got it right when he identified God as the source of reliable leadership. And that's good news, because God is accessible to everyone, in every time and culture, in every situation, at every moment. Whatever nation or organization needs leadership, we can turn to God for guidance. He is as near as our consciousness. When thought is quiet and honestly seeking God, help is at hand. God governs and maintains His creation, moment by moment.
The best leader is the clearest transparency for the authority and government of God. Jesus proved this; his example of unconditional love and his healing ministry lifted him high above any leader the world has ever known.
Mary Baker Eddy sought constantly to follow the divine leadership Jesus exemplified. She was born a few decades before my great-grandmother, and was an adult during Lincoln's presidency. From a solid but modest rural background, she emerged as Leader of the Christian Science movement. She wrote a bestselling book on Christian theology, drawn from her own experience in relying on God for healing. She established a church with members all around the world, and she founded this daily newspaper. Also, following Jesus' example, she healed people and showed her followers how to do likewise.
A pattern is emerging, a reliable record for life under God's direction. I, too, have been able to experience its benefits. When I held a position that demanded management skills way beyond my training, I found that relying on God was the only way to go. One time, I prayed almost without stopping for a week – sometimes literally on my knees – about a situation that seemed to have no solution.
Once I stopped fretting and started listening with my whole heart, however, an idea came to me that worked for everyone concerned. Looking to God for leadership, I was freed from doubt, inexperience, and factionalism.
There's no leadership void when we accept God as our leader. In selecting leaders at any level of society, human credentials are much less significant than humility before the authority of God. It doesn't have to take time to turn things around when there's genuine reliance on God's inspiration and direction.
History teaches valuable lessons about leadership. It shows what works and what doesn't. It points us in the direction of God, whose wisdom and strength lead to peace.
Adapted from www.spirituality.com .