Good leadership mixes together a combination of qualities. Do not be fooled into thinking that it depends upon the exercise of one trait or another. It is not simply courage. It is not simply truth-driven. It is a blending of many different traits, such that it may plan for a variety of situations and handle them with grace.
That last sentence contained a bit of foreshadowing for today’s blog. It included the idea of planning. Good leadership necessarily involves planning, and planning necessarily involves thoughtfulness. This statement goes against a good deal of what we see in our emotion-driven world. So many of history’s mistakes, its broken hopes and sorry ends, have formed from a hasty reaction, a thoughtless decision, an uncritical response. How many harmful words have been said that would have passed from mind with but a few seconds’ contemplation? How many families have drifted apart from such exchanges? How many foolish steps were taken by an emotionally fueled decision that soon proved unwise? Many things are not as they seem at first glance. The critical remark proves false, or without basis. The job offer hides a morally compromising position. The peace treaty crumbles as the one-time friend changes into a foe’s clothes. Good leadership possesses the sense to stop the tongue, the pen, or the offensive.
But we might also say that good leadership need not be plodding. It is often true that it is wise to evaluate things and think them through. However, it is also possible to live in a state of thoughtfulness, to cultivate the habits of analysis and insight. In other words, we can train our minds to think well, and thus make good judgments in crucial moments–or, perhaps more commonly, in the moments that precede the crucial moments. We men act as good leaders when we counter swiftly the wrongs our families commit. We act well when we volunteer for worthy work in our church. We live wisely when we ask the girl from church on an initial date. Our Lord often acted swiftly to make decisions. He spoke against unrighteousness when He heard it, turned over tables when they held merchandise in His Father’s house, and preached the gospel to the lost when He encountered them. We seek to emulate His life, and thus we seek to live and lead according to His wise example. In our lives, then, we should both take care to think hard about significant decisions and to respond decisively when the moment calls for it. The blending of thoughtful planning and decisive response is not easily achieved. It will take time to learn how to do so. But in the end, it will be worth all our effort. Strive for thoughtfulness. Strive to think well and plan well but also to respond swiftly when you must do so. Consider the outcome of our Lord’s ministry. He took a few from the Jew’s rabble, trained them up, and started them on a mission that has exploded over the centuries. May we be leaders who over the course of our lives bear fruit from thoughtfulness.