Currently I am reading a book about a person who I believe was the greatest president our country has ever had: Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln emerged at a time when this country needed him the most. Among tremendous forces that worked against him, he provided the kind of leadership that led this country from civil war to reconstruction. While he wasn't able to provide leadership to the country after the war, due to his assasination, much of his legacy remained a guiding force for the United States long after his death.
I am currently studying (again!) some of his leadership characteristics. I am amazed at how applicable they are for us today. We would be well served to see how Lincoln was able to influence an entire nation during what was arguably, its darkest days. Knowing that God is on our side and calling us to influence not only the corner of the world we find ourselves in, but also the larger society and church, examining what it means to be an effective leader is imperative.
Let me conclude these brief reflections with a lesson I was studying this morning from the life of A. Lincoln: when he relieved General John C. Fremont from his command in Missouri in 1861, Lincoln wrote of Fremont: "His cardinal mistake is he isolates himself and allows nobody to see him; and by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter his is dealing with." The lesson I learn from this example is the importance of being connected to others, not hiding behind a desk or office but actually being with those one leads.
I have seen many so called "leaders" do just that. If there was ever a time when we need leaders who put aside impressive titles and claim authority based on what their "office" is, it is now. My leadership is not from having degrees and claiming that my office is enough reason to do something. Instead, I lead from among those for whom I am called to lead. As someone once said, "if you lead out front and no one follows, that's not leadership, that's just a good walk." I consicously keep myself from being isolated and seek ways to be among God's people and the ministrys of COTHA. I do know that people don't buy into a program or ministry without first buying into the person who is leading that ministry or program. And that's what we are doing at COTHA. Being authentic, transparent and open is not something new. In fact that sounds like Abraham Lincoln!