AHA! I see I have your attention!
There are shelves and shelves of books and cd’s and dvd’s and any number of seminars you can go to learn leadership skills. They all mention the qualities and characteristics of a leader, and gloss over those and get right to the meat of the issue: how do you convince people to follow you? Here’s the thing, you cannot gloss over these qualities. You must embody them to the utmost. But aren’t these qualities and characteristics things to be learned? Yes, learned, exhibited, incorporated into your very being. Can’t we just assume they are present in everyone taking the seminar or reading the book? Simply put–No.
I bet that’s a shock to many people. Aren’t most people basically good? Well let’s take a look:
I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
A Scout is: • Trustworthy, • Loyal, • Helpful, • Friendly, • Courteous, • Kind, • Obedient, • Cheerful, • Thrifty, • Brave, • Clean, • and Reverent.
If all people were basically good, why would all the scout oaths tell us what good people are? Wouldn’t everyone already know? Why would people need to go to church if they were already good people? Here’s where it gets messy. There are many many people who use that as a reason they don’t go to church–they’re basically good people and they can enjoy “God’s Presence” anywhere. They believe they don’t need fixing…and yet… How many laws are there on the books for criminal behavior? You can’t get arrested for lying, but you cannot lie on the witness stand or in front of a congressional committee. There are all types of behaviors that are described as criminal and some of them are contradictory. Why would we have to have such an in depth examination of what is good and what is not if we’re all basically good? Wouldn’t a bad person stand out like a sore thumb among his fellow citizens?
If you look at the 10 commandments, 3 of them have nothing to do with your behavior and attitudes to other people, the focus is on God. There’s 1 God–worship no one or nothing else, respect God’s name, remember the holy day. So of those 100’s and 1000’s of laws we have on our books, the law in the bible lists only seven. Seven? Honor your father and mother: every child in every sitcom would be arrested. Thou shalt not Kill: and that means more than abstaining from murdering the inconsiderate neighbor that plays in his rock band in his garage at 2 am. It also means assassination of character, gossip, libel, slander, and abortion. Thou shalt not commit Adultery: a much graver sin than what we are led to believe in our society. It is living with the benefits of marriage and not the commitment. Living together, affairs, pornography, prostitution and even lusting after someone not your spouse are all exactly the same sin. Yes I said sin. It is time that we recognize this stuff for what it is. All those shows on tv, even the comedies, where people just jump into bed with anyone, that is adultery. We now think it odd if someone has been dating for a month and they haven’t had sex yet. How bizarre is that? How many times do we see relationships disintegrate because one of the partners breaks the trust they have built as a couple? 50% of marriages end up in divorces? That seems like a statistical anomaly doesn’t it? Let’s look at this, suppose you tell your special friend a secret. You want no one else to know this, and 2 days later, someone you hardly know tells you the secret? You feel betrayed! Why is it any different with the most intimate connection you have with your spouse? Is every one of your acquaintances your best and closest friend? Aren’t there some things you reserve for just your closest friends? What is more precious than your sexual activities, your shared experiences, your children, your inside jokes and thoughts that you share with your life-long partner? Anyone that trivializes this relationship is opening themselves and their partners for a world of hurt. Thou shalt not Steal: Why would this one be AFTER the Adultery? That stealing is wrong is a foregone conclusion, just like killing. Except when we relabel stealing as creative acquisition. The company owes me that much–I’m taking this copier home. The government doesn’t deserve all that money, so I’ll not report this. Do all sorts of excuses for taking stuff that isn’t ours makes it any less a theft? No. Thou shalt not Bear False Witness: what? A person could not be convicted of a crime unless 3 witnesses swore against him. To bear false witness might result in loss of property, life, or limb of an innocent person. Welcome to internet bullying! Gossip writ large. Slander, perjury, libel, impugning someone’s reputation or character are all bearing false witness! Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s house: dwellings, land or property that was to be an inheritance for your neighbor’s children. Anything that could be passed down was considered part of the ancient family legacy. The laws about Jubilee and Sabbath years were to restore property and land to families in order to keep the inheritance in the family. It was that important. Coveting was not just jealousy, it was planning and plotting to take possession of the inheritance. Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s wife or servants or cattle or anything that is your neighbor’s: This would be the short term property. Yes, wives were considered property, they were bought with a price. They represented the wealth of the person. How big a bride price do you think is paid now? Oh? It’s paid to the wedding planners? And it’s paid by the bride and her family? The person that broke this law wasn’t having an affair with the wife, he was actually trying to steal this woman from her husband’s family for gain.
So 10 commandments, the boy scout and girl scout laws, all of them reflect that we do NOT know what it takes to be “good” people if they have to spell out what good people are and do. The multitude of laws delineating what is “bad” don’t even touch all those requirements, and if you watch any crime procedurals on television, you know that they are woefully inadequate to assess blame to people doing bad things. We will look more in depth of the qualities of a good leader in the coming days.