As we continue in Easter season, we remember Christ’s appearance to the apostles. Were the first words from Christ’s mouth words of outrage? Did He say, “We need to get back at those people who crucified me”? No. When people recognized Christ, his message was clear:
Peace be with you. Do not be afraid.
When we see leaders of today, what is the heart of their message? What do we feel when they speak? If you consider the great spiritual leaders, they want to bring about peace, unity and love. If a leader elicits fear inside you, it’s merely a persuasive appeal. It’s propaganda, which seeks to benefit the interest of the leader. It’s to bring about division. If a leader rouses you to feel rage against another, this leader wants to conquer, not lead.
If a leader rouses you to feel rage against another, this leader wants to conquer, not lead.
The Tao Te Ching (Chapter 66) promotes leadership based on service, on leading from behind and below:
All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.
If you want to govern the people,
you must place yourself below them.
If you want to lead the people,
you must learn how to follow them.
The Master is above the people,
and no one feels oppressed.
She goes ahead of the people,
and no one feels manipulated.
The whole world is grateful to her.
Because she competes with no one,
no one can compete with her.
A leader in the Tao perspective seeks to unify, to benefit those being led. A leader who employs fear seeks power over others for the benefit of the leader.
We should consider not only how a leader speaks but also how we feel when a leader speaks. Here’s verse 17 in the Tao Te Ching:
The Master speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self interest
and leaves no trace.
Does this leader inspire us to do good for the benefit of others, or does this leader provoke us into speaking unkind words or promoting division?
Returning to the Judeo-Christian perspective, those waiting for the Messiah were expecting a strong, powerful leader like King David. Rather than having a Messiah who would conquer people, a Messiah was born to conquer hearts through compassion and humility. Jesus didn’t use force. Instead, he spoke to our deep desire for wholeness within and with others. Here’s Matthew 12:25:
“…Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”
We should carefully discern which leaders seek to unify, and which ones seek to divide.