What Does it Mean to be a Leader?

This morning I spent some time meditating on the qualities of leadership. I selected the following quotes, which express best what the idea of “being a leader” means to me.

One of the things I have recently learned, is that sometimes in life, being a leader means being willing to lose for a season. One cannot lead if one cannot find the strength and courage to risk oneself for the sake of integrity, wisdom, love, and truth.

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” —John Maxwell
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” —Rosalynn Carter
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur
“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” —Max Lucado
“The leader has to be practical and a realist yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.” —Eric Hoffer
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” —Bill Gates
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” —Maya Angelou
“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” —Benjamin Franklin
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” —Thomas Jefferson
“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” —Norman Schwarzkopf
“Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day.” —Jesse Jackson
“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” —Stephen Covey
“Never give an order that can’t be obeyed.” —General Douglas MacArthur
“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.” —Abraham Lincoln
“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” —Arnold Glasow
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
“A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops.” —John J Pershing
“A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men.” —Stephen King
“The supreme quality of leadership is integrity.” –Dwight Eisenhower

The Etymology of Crisis

Crisis
From the Greek Krisis
Meaning:
The turning point
In a disease.
Which way will it be?
Up?
To the light?
To Hope…the fever breaking?
Or Down?
To surrender.
To acceptance of descent into death
Will it be the Inevitable?
Irreversible?
The last wrong turn?

There is no set limit
On the number of turns in a journey
In a life itself
Which is after all:
A sexually transmitted disease.

“Turn, turn, turn”
We sing.
To everything there is a season.
These words
So old
A song made from a scripture
A scripture read aloud from code
Written on our collective heart.
We know them
Even when we hear them the first time
We feel we have known them always.

We turn.
Vive La Revolution!
While we say of God:
“There is no shadow of turning with Thee.”

We live in the shadow of turning.
To be born
To die
To love
To kill
To sow
To reap

What is true of God beyond stasis?
Beyond action?
This presence that does not turn and casts no shadow?

My God hides like a glimmering in the heart
She tingles in the hairs on the back of my neck
When I tell a lie.
He haunts the strands of my DNA.
They vibrate to His rhythm
Calling me from sleep
Clear as the voice of Seraphim
To cry out
For no known reason.

To Everything
A Season.