A Tale of Two Leaders

By | November 7, 2016 | 5 Comments

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
− Peter Drucker, economist and author

We recruit leaders from the human race, and there are no perfect humans. Therefore, there can be no perfect leaders. This fact is illustrated by these two famous leaders.
The two brothers.
The older brother was well spoken. Everyone said he expressed himself beautifully. He was a family man and respected in the community. People came to him for advice, and he was a good listener. He was flexible and tried to go along with what people wanted.
The younger brother was not well spoken. It is unclear whether he had a stammer or some other problem, but he surely was no orator. Despite his privileged upbringing, he had difficulty getting along with people. And he had a serious problem with anger management – so serious that he killed a man and had to leave the country.
So which brother was chosen to lead his people at a crucial time? Which brother was chosen to speak for his people to a powerful tyrant? Which brother was chosen to lead his people from slavery to freedom?
The older brother was Aaron; the younger was Moses. Yes, Aaron was well spoken, but he didn’t have the strength to speak up to a tyrant. Moses didn’t speak smoothly, but he knew what to say. Aaron was flexible, so he went along with those who wanted to build an idol to worship. Moses insisted on doing what was right. Aaron had no problem with anger management, so he did nothing but grumble when slave drivers beat slaves. Moses was short tempered, so he killed a cruel slave driver and had to flee the police.
What could easily be perceived as negatives turned out to be positives. What were deficits in ordinary circumstances proved to be assets in difficult circumstances. What we saw as weaknesses the Lord saw as strengths.
The lustful leader.
This man already was a leader, admired by his followers. But he saw a beautiful young woman and was infatuated. The problem was that she was married. So what did the leader do? He sent her husband into battle. Even worse, he ordered the man’s companions to withdraw and leave him alone. They did, and the man was killed in action.
This leader committed at least three crimes: (1) Adultery. (2) Murder, or at least conspiracy to commit murder. (3) Betrayal of subordinates. Nevertheless, he remained as leader of his people. Even better, he was entrusted with the great responsibility of leading his people to victory, so they could establish their capital in the city where it remains to this day. Best of all, he was chosen to be the ancestor of the Messiah.
The leader was King David. The city was Jerusalem. David’s failings were real failings. Nevertheless, his strengths were such that the Lord confirmed him in his leadership position, and then allowed him to achieve great things.
The bottom line.
If we wait for perfect leaders, we will still be waiting when the next ice age arrives. And even if we found them, they would want perfect followers – which surely leaves me out, as well as everyone I have ever known.
There is an old saying that the best is the enemy of the good. Perfection is a distant ideal to be aimed for, not an actual goal we expect to achieve. If I insist on having the perfect spouse, the perfect children, the perfect friends, the perfect house, the perfect job, and the perfect car, I will wind up an unmarried, childless, friendless, homeless, unemployed pedestrian. My vain pursuit of perfection will have left me lonely and pitiful.
There are no perfect leaders. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are very far from perfect. But they are the two alternatives between whom we are forced to choose.
Our house is on fire and the stairway is blocked. We hear a siren, and a fire engine arrives. A ladder is put up to our window, and a firefighter climbs up and offers his hand. Is he handsome or homely? Is he smooth-faced or unshaven? Is he young or middle aged? Is he trim or overweight? Is he neat or covered with soot? Does he speak smoothly or yell loudly? Does he use polite language or speak crudely? Does he go to church weekly or occasionally? Is he married to his first wife or his third?
Does he measure up to our fantasy of the perfect firefighter? Who cares?
There is Donald Trump on the ladder, offering his hand. And there is Hillary Clinton, promising to pour more gasoline on the fire. No other rescuer is visible, so we must grab Trump’s hand and hesitantly climb onto the ladder. We may fall, but at least this way we have a chance. To do otherwise would be to disrespect a potential rescuer because of our narcissistic notion that he is too imperfect to rescue our glorious selves.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.


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