A Leadership Mosaic

This month’s synchroblog is on leadership, an appropriate topic for today. But, as I thought of what to write I realized that so much has already been said on the subject and so much more will be said… So, today I want to give you a little mosaic sampling of what has been said on leadership and what others are saying on leadership today. I hope that you find it thought provoking.

“When kings the sword of justice first lay down, They are no kings, though they possess the crown. Titles are shadows, crowns are empty things, The good of subjects is the end of kings.” – Defoe

“We may please ourselves with the prospect of free and popular governments. But there is great danger that those governments will not make us happy. God grant they may. But I fear that in every assembly, members will obtain an influence [leadership] by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls… There is one thing, my dear sir, that must be attempted and most sacredly observed or we are all undone. There must be decency and respect, and veneration introduced for persons o authority or every rank, or we are undone. In a popular government, this is our only way.” – John Adams

“He seeks information from all quarters and judges more independently than any man I ever saw.” – John Adams speaking of George Washington (those are traits that I personally look for in a leader)

“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.” – Celtic saying

“To lead people, walk beside them… As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear, and the next, the people hate… When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’” – Lao-tsu

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.” – Admiral James B. Stockdale

“Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” – Harry Truman

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” – Max DePree

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“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

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Here’s what other people are saying about leadership today:

Jonathan Brink – Letter To The President

Adam Gonnerman – Aspiring to the Episcopate

Kai – Leadership – Is Servant Leadership a Broken Model?

Sally Coleman – In the world but not of it- servant leadership for the 21st Century Church

Alan Knox – Submission is given not taken

Joe Miller – Elders Lead a Healthy Family: The Future

Cobus van Wyngaard – Empowering leadership

Steve Hayes – Servant leadership

Geoff Matheson – Leadership

John Smulo – Australian Leadership Lessons

Helen Mildenhall – Leadership

Tyler Savage – Moral Leadership – Is it what we need?

Bryan Riley – Leading is to Listen and Obey

Susan Barnes – Give someone else a turn!

Liz Dyer – A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Polls…

Ellen Haroutunian – A New Kind of Leadership

Matt Stone – Converting Leadership

Steve Bradley – Lording or Leading?

Adam Myers – Two types of Leadership

Kathy Escobar – I’m Pretty Sure This Book Won’t Make It On The Bestseller List

Fuzzy Orthodoxy – Self Leadership

Sonja Andrews – Leadership In An Age of Cholera

Tara Hull – Leadership & Being A Single Mom

Beth Patterson – Leadership: Being the River

Bill Ellis – Spiritual Leadership and the re-humanizing of our world

Joe S. – Leadership: This election and social justice

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

Politics and Abortion

This post is a guest post written by Mathias Schwender. Mathias and his wife Carrie (who I wrote about here) are good friends of ours and incredible people. The other night we were having dinner with them and the topic of abortion and politics came up and Mathias shared some interesting insight. I knew at the time that there were others in the blogosphere writing about this topic lately so I invited Mathias to be my first guest blogger as part of this impromptu synchroblog.

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I am not a woman. I cannot pretend I have felt, lived through, experienced, suffered or wrestled with the decision of giving or not giving birth to an unwanted baby. Yet I have compassion for women in this situation and the last thing I wish for them is to be persecuted, punished or being outcast. In a way I think it is not fair that women are way more affected by giving birth or not giving birth than men – regardless how involved men are.

We as a society and fellow humans must respect and acknowledge that women that do not want to give birth to their child are already put on a burden that seems too much to carry. We have the obligation to come and support and help and endure with them.

Nevertheless I want to speak out for those humans that share life with me on this earth. I want to speak out for those that do not have a voice. They are my brothers and sisters and therefore I am qualified to speak out for them.

I strongly feel it is not right to give in to what seems so fair: ‘let her not have the child’. I strongly disagree that one (or more) human beings have the right to end someone else’s life. Why does the most vulnerable, innocent person not have a right to live? Why can it be sent to death because the father or mother or the society as a whole decides so? Since when is a human life only valued as such if it is desired? Where else in our society does someone have the ‘right to choose’ over someone else’s life?

Let’s say my grandmother is sick and I have to take care of her and I cannot afford to look after her or I just simply think this is inconvenient for me. Why can’t I just push her down the staircase? If it is about me and my social or economical situation then this should also be ok to do that, no?

No. I cannot just end someone else’s life because it is not my life and I cannot end it. That’s why.

And this is not because I am a Christian or anything else. This is because I want to live in a society that honors life.

We should really stop making this a religious question anything more than caring for the elders, paying our taxes or coming up with a good health care plan.

I like Obama. I think he would be the better president. And I actually would probably vote for him if I carried the right passport. Yet it bothers me that he is inconsistent. With his health care plan he says: we need to protect every American. We need to protect children. We cannot just let the parents make the choice if they want to ensure the children or not. Health insurance must extend to everybody.

I agree with him. I think it is a good plan. But then when it comes to abortion he suddenly says: the mother is able to take the best decision for her baby. She is most qualified to decide.

Why can’t the parents decide if their children get health insurance but apparently can decide if the child will live or die? I don’t get it.

What personally woke me up and made me aware of this was statistics I have lately seen. Only in the US more than 1,2 million babies get aborted every single year. Source: http://www.abort73.com/HTML/II-A-abortion_statistics. ( I think this is one out of three conceived babies)This is just so incredible. As a comparison: on 9/11 we had about 3000 people dying on a single day and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq happened as a consequence. With abortions this amount of people die every single (!) day and nothing really seems to happen as a consequence.

What I would propose to do about it on a governmental level:

1. Start with having a restricted abortion policy. In Germany (where I am from) for example, abortions can only legally be done to the 12th week and a medical or social reason must be given and approved by a doctor.

Source: http://www.pro-leben.de/abtr/abtreibung_daten.php

I think it is totally inacceptable and horrifying that in many western European countries and also the USA you can abort a child an hour before it gets born without giving even a reason. I can see how people argue about early abortions but to kill a fully grown baby just because it didn’t yet come out of the mother’s womb is just incredible.

2. Women that go through unwanted pregnancies must get government and financial help to get through and deliver the baby. Economical reasons should get entirely ruled out.

3. To give the child up for adoption must become much easier. Also bureaucratic hurdles in adopting a child must get a lot more straightforward.

4. Change the laws so abortions with some restricted, defined and very limited exceptions (which have to be monitored in a transparent way by an independent institution) should become illegal. When slavery was legal there were only a few people that thought it was a bad thing. Now it’s illegal and people also think it is a bad thing. But it took a while. We shape the conscious of a society if we ok with our laws certain things. Changing the laws will slowly then also change how people feel about abortions. I know for this we need majorities. Every little step helps. The little I can do I want to do for it.

Mathias Schwender

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Check out these links to hear what others are saying:

Abortion Politics and Christianity

The Moral Minefield

Politics and Abortion: Impromptu Synchroblog

Dr. James Howell on the Divisive Issue of Abortion

The Politics of Abortion: The Moral Minefield

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

Politics

So, this is an election year and as such I feel like I should join the band wagon and talk about politics a little (yeah, I know I’m joining late in the game, but better late than never, right?). Frankly, I’ve never liked talking about politics – I felt uncomfortable talking about politics. I think that is mostly because I have for most of my life been incredibly uneducated on the issues. I usually just voted whatever my parents or church or friends said I should vote and believed them…something I’m not really proud to admit, but there it is. I think the reason I really wasn’t educated about politics was that I just didn’t care, any time politics came up (which was incredibly rare in my circle) I felt like there wasn’t really a good option, like I didn’t really agree with any of the sides and like I could see good and bad in both and I just didn’t want to have to pick one. In the past I had a few opinions that I did choose a side on but the side I generally leaned towards wasn’t the same side of a lot of the people around me so I usually kept those opinions to myself. Then I moved out of the country…

Ironically, it took me leaving America to start to get educated and care more about the politics happening in America. I remember one of the first larger dinner parties Bryan and I had at our house here in Prague one of the major topics we all discussed was politics. I felt soo uncomfortable and unsure of myself and my opinions – I came face to face with my lack of education in the area of politics and decided then and there that I wanted to become more educated and figure out where I stand on various issues. And I was lucky, my desire to become more educated lined up perfectly with an election year, a year when politics is a hot topic and there’s lots of opportunity to learn.

Well, that was quite a while ago now… and frankly I still feel frustrated when talking about politics. Bryan and I have had a number of political conversations together lately which have been really helpful and interesting… it’s nice for me to talk with him about politics because I feel like he isn’t going to judge me when I say stuff and even if he disagrees with me he is still understanding. Really I still don’t know where I stand on some things. I do know that at times I can see good things and bad things in both parties. I do know that in general I care more about the issues and topics that the Democrats focus on (social issues) then the issues the Republicans seem to focus on (moral issues). I do know that my husband considers himself an Independent, who likes some things about Libertarianism, and I know that even though I can agree with him on some levels, our political views don’t totally line up.

I guess you could call me a swing voter…and I actually really like that. The whole idea of voting with a party line never made sense to me, really. I mean neither party completely represents my beliefs and ideals. And I think each election is different and each situation is different and I would rather decide each election what party I think is best fit to have office for the situations of that particular time in history.

So, if you are a swing voter like me and find yourself wanting to know more about politics in general and wanting to be more informed this election then I have some suggestions on sites to check out:

The first is On The Issues. This site helps you find out what all of the candidates (including 3rd party candidates) have to say about different issues. All you need to do is click on the picture of the candidate you want to find out more about and it will tell you their stance on each of the major issues. You can also search by issue and it will tell you what different candidates believe about that issue. It’s a great way to find out more about the candidates and to compare and contrast their opinions on the issues.

The second site I thought was interesting is this google site. It has a list of issues and then has quotes about each candidate that relate to those issues. You can stroll through a number of quotes from the candidates on the issue that you select.

I also found this site, FactCheck.org, helpful. They basically go through all the things that the two major candidates (McCain and Obama) say about each other and make corrections telling you what the facts actually are. I especially liked this page which lists all the major untrue accusations that each candidate has made about the other and telling you why they are incorrect.

EDIT: I just found this site, glassbooth.org. It’s a site where you put in the issues that you care most about and answer some questions and then it tells you what candidate lines up with your beliefs/oppinions most. I thought it was really helpful and encourage you to check it out.

And of course I would suggest you watch the debates as well. Bryan and I have watched all of the major debates so far and even though they have been frustrating to watch at times they have also been pretty informative and have helped us get a better picture of each candidate.

I’d be interested to hear what you all think of the candidates and who you’re rooting for if you don’t mind sharing. I know politics is a sort of taboo topic and many people don’t like saying right out what candidate they support , but if you are open to it I would love to hear your opinions. I also know that some people love talking about politics and can get very heated about it, so, please do share, but let’s keep it civil, ok? Remember that each of the candidates are genuine people trying to do what they think is best, and treat them with respect. And remember that the other readers are also genuine people trying to do what they think is best and they also deserve your respect.

Here is Donald Miller’s http://www.donaldmillerwords.com/  prayer from the Democratic National Convention. This is what I’m praying today as I think about the upcoming elections:

“Father God, This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future. We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation. We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy. Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left. Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them. Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions. Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle. Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education. Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony. We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help. Father will you restore our moral standing in the world. A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American. Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world. Help us be an example of humility and strength once again. Lastly, father, unify us. Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common. And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments – but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish. God we know that you are good. Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans. I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice. Let Him be our example. Amen.”

Rejoicing in the journey –
Beth Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)