The ongoing political campaign has given me a lot to reflect on these days. Today’s reflection focuses on exemplary leadership. When I heard my wife sighing and saying “What an example?” as she heard the response of one of the presumptive nominees concerning a member of the news media, I knew then that the theme for my reflection this week would be exemplary leadership.
Of course, in thinking of exemplary leadership, it was not my interest to focus on politicians alone, but on community leaders, corporate leaders, religious leaders, educational leaders, leaders in families such as fathers, mothers and older siblings. Exemplary leaders are found in many contexts of life; and their examples can be good or bad.
But let me pause to reflect more on our present political campaign, because I have to confess that it is the greatest challenge in exemplary leadership I have ever seen. The erosion in dignified behavior, values, standards, and positive leadership philosophy is pathetic. Many individuals have said to me that they feel that we are being betrayed. They are scared for what their children and youth are seeing.
While I sympathize with those who express their fears, as stated as above, I must advise that not everyone who is in the position of leadership is exemplary in the positive sense. We must educate our children and youth to look carefully for admirable leaders who exhibit the qualities of character, behavior, attitude and values that we wish that our children would imbibe. We need to make it clear that leadership is not theory but exemplary. In fact, we need to understand this in our homes and in the public sphere. We cannot be contradictory and inconsistent and think that we are offering positive examples to others.
When the Apostle Paul said to the congregation he pastored, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1), he was offering more than himself as the example; he was offering Christ. Christ is the perfect pattern and we should always keep our final focus on him. However, it is also important that those of us who belong to Christ are to be the best of examples. To be the best of example as a leader means that I need to follow Jesus Christ. But I must also know that there are those who will follow my example, and therefore I need to maintain the integrity and the dignity in what I say and what I do that will lead others to Christ.
In effect, my example as a Christian leader needs to adhere to the highest and the best standard of leadership – the example of Christ.