Over the past decade, the world has been through 3 significant shocks.
1. September 11. If you were in leadership that day of any kind, you developed a different view of your concept of physical security.
2. Global Economic Shock of 2008. Changed people's view of what constitutes financial security. 3. Arab Spring of 2011. Reminds us that Authoritarianism is not and cannot ever be stable. The Ceausescu moment: when what separates the dictator from his people (Fear) breaks down and gives way to anger and anger is a terrible way, even an impossible way, to lead.
There is a basic and universal desire for Freedom. But Freedom is not the same thing as Democracy. Democracy is the institutionalization of freedom. With Freedom comes responsibility and it takes us time to get there. Stable democracy requires more than the institutionalization of rights - it requires understanding. The rights of the minority must be protected as well. The strong cannot exploit the weak. But, that is not just the work of government - governments can only do so much. But, they cannot put into the hearts of every person that there should be no weak links. The strong should only not exploit the weak, but they should also help bring the weak up and make them stronger. We need other social institutions to help strengthen everyone.
Another principle of democracy is that every life is worthy. There are no permanent stations in life and there are no kings and queens. Every life is capable of rising up and is capable of greatness. We have an obligation as citizens of a democracy to make sure that everyone has opportunity to rise up. As Christians, we recognize that we are all equal before God. We cannot see any one person as more worthy than anyone else. Jesus died for each of us, no matter our station in life or our circumstances of life or the depths of our since, our Lord Jesus Christ died for each of us. It is not surprising that action on that basic fact that every life is worthy has often been the role of the church. Government can do a great deal, but it cannot deliver compassion. The Church can bring compassion and value to the work that is done for those who are in need. The Church can also deliver hope and shelter as it knows that God loves people and He is good all the time. Those who help lift people up are doing the work of God and the work that it was intended for Christians to do.
The best thing that you can do for a person in helping them is to give them control of their own future by granting them education. Her grandfather, John Wesley Rice, understood that education means that it doesn't matter where you came from, it matters where you are going. But, when you can now look at someone's zip code and you can tell where they are going, we find that we live in troubling times. As a leader, it is a privilege to live in these troubling times.
As a leader, it is not just important to see people following you, but to also help them lead and become leaders as well. We have a model for this in Christ Jesus. He had a vision for a better future for those who followed Him. As leaders, we must have a vision for a more optimistic future. No one wants to follow a negative person. They cannot see where they are going and they cannot see how they can be leaders to help us get there. Perhaps things are not as bad as we think they are, though. We need to keep perspective. Today's headlines and history's judgment are not the same. Keep an eye on history's judgment and stay positive.
Out of struggle comes victory, however. The central message of the Christian faith is that out of Friday comes Sunday. It is a privilege to struggle. It humbles you and keeps you on your knees. Romans 5:1-2 - we glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character and character, hope and hope does not disappoint us. Out of struggling do we find hope.
We often cannot see what is going to happen when we are in difficult times. We must keep our eyes on our destination. She references Nelson Mandela, who while in a prison cell maintained hope. Lech Walensa, a Polish shipyard worker believed that he could help bring Communism down. And, it happened. How could a little girl in segregated Birmingham, Alabama come to believe that she could one day be Secretary of State?
Those outcomes were not inevitable. They were the work of people who sacrificed everything for a principle - who led by belief and faith and put themselves on the line to make the world better. They never accepted the world as it is - they always worked for the world as it should be. That is the calling of leaders.