Thursday, February 28, 2013


"But Corin will be the King, then Father," said Cor.

"Nay, lad," said King Lune, "thou art my heir.  The crown comes to thee."...

"Oh dear," said Cor. "I don't want to at all.  And Corin--I am most dreadfully sorry.  I never dreamed my turning up was going to chisel you out of your kingdom."

"Hurrah!  Hurrah!" said Corin.  "I shan't have to be King.  I shan't have to be King.  I'll always be a prince.  It's princes have all the fun."

"And that's truer than thy brother knows, Cor," said King Lune.  "For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there's hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land."   --C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy  pp. 239-240 
When I read these words, I stopped.  I went back and re-read and then re-read them once again.  I began to consider them deeply as they pertain to leadership.

Do leaders, kings, presidents act as King Lune describes?

Do those who are looked upon as leaders exhibit these same qualities?

Willingness to lead into battle?

Be the last in retreat?

Dress to the hilt and laugh while sharing in the sorrows and hurts as a nation is hurting while eating less than those who have the least to eat in such a suffering land?

Yes, I could point fingers at presidents.  And governors.  And CEO's.  And bishops.  And popes.  And those of any particular political persuasion.

But I would do better to look at myself.

How do I measure up with such leadership?

Am I willing to bear such burdens?

Am I willing to put my own safety and security on the line to lead the charge, to cover the retreat, and to bear the same burdens that those I lead bear?

In some ways, yes.

In others, no.

I do not know the poverty of some of my members.  I do not know what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck.  Partially it is because of how we manage our money as a family.  Partially it is because I am well cared for by my congregation.  I do not eat fillet mignon; yet, neither do I subsist on rice and beans.  Generally, I eat middle class fare as I am middle class.  When times are tight for the least of these, my congregation doesn't hesitate to help out, but I certainly do not change my diet.  In this, I do not measure up.

But in other respects, I do try to implement such leadership.

I have told my congregation that I will not ask anyone there to do anything I will not be willing to do myself.

Therefore, I am seen at various times:

Taking out the church garbage.
Washing dishes after a meal.
Taking off my collar and engaging strangers in public.
Disciplining my kids in the middle of worship.
Teaching children's Sunday School.
Taking time for prayer.
Saying "no" to being busy just for the sake of being busy.
Realizing my limitations and refusing to work every evening and jeopardize too much time with my family.
Tackling difficult subjects like divorce, pre-marital sex, universal Truth, our relationships with those who believe differently, etc.
Working on other people's property to improve it even when not expected of me or for little personal gain.
Getting my hands dirty with the behind the scenes work at the church--the stuff many people do but are not seen doing and rarely getting appreciation for it.

I say this not to boost my own resume, but as a description.  I don't do such things to be recognized by my congregation or by any particular person.  I do it because I believe that is what a leader does.  He/she works with people in service to help them discover their own strengths and abilities so that they may use them in service to God and to one another.

It does little good for a leader to pontificate without proper action.

Does this mean I do things perfectly?

Certainly not.

I am a hypocrite at times.  There are times when I say something then do quite the opposite.  I know that I am doing wrong.  I do not wish to do it, but I do it anyway.  Wretched man that I am.  A man named Paul felt the same way, but he, like I know the grace and mercy of God.

And it is because of that grace and mercy that I dare to say that I am a leader.  I dare to "lead the charge against the gates of hell with a bucket of water."  Not because I believe I will do any good, but because I believe that leaders go first.  Equipped with the grace, mercy, love, and power of God, we dare to take the first risk and then protect everyone if that risk fails as we fall back.

Princes may have all the fun.

But leaders have the joy of responsibility.

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