Leadership examples can be found to illustrate almost any situation. From good to bad, hope to evil, life is filled with individuals in roles that tell personal stories. In general, it is easy to take the stories for what they are; human beings that can fail while doing something great. In the midst of these models, tone leadership example is disturbing. I do not understand, cannot see any reason, and can sense my temperature rising when the leader of a community filled with starvation, joblessness, and individuals struggling to see hope, makes the leap to serious personal wealth and comfort.
I am not rebelling against reasonable compensation for one's time, even if the general population's unemployment rate is well above 50%. I am not questioning the wealth that came before public office, even when there is evidence of questionable sources and methods. I am referring to leaders that came from a poor background and now have their millions stashed in Swiss banks. The examples of the fleets of new cars, personal use of private jets, lavish estates, and flagrant stand in contrast to the populace the leaders serve. In each case, the example tells a story that nurtures cynicism, anger, and despair.
As I wake in the early morning darkness, I find myself in the mirror, knowing my example is anything but spotless. I know there are examples in my life where I, like “Joseph, called by the apostles 'Barnabas' (which means 'Son of Comfort'), a Levite born in Cyprus, sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles.” (Acts 4.36, 37) Yet, there are other examples that tell a very different tale.
Leaders can make a difference, then and now. Without commentary on anyone's failures, I would suggest that our attitude and approach does matter. Leaders that promote change through the examples in their lives often bring lasting hope. Leaders that humbly deal with their failings provide a powerful testimony. We need this kind of leadership, from others as well as our self. It starts within.
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