What does it take for a man to justify to himself that he is truly worthy to lead others? I’m not speaking of a mad dictator or an arrogant hotshot, but of a true leader, the man who reluctantly takes up the burden of leadership, shouldering it with the knowledge that he can only lead with divine help or else he will fall. Expecting to fail, hoping always to find a better leader to take his place.
What does it take to force him to lead?
Is it reason? Is he made to see that no other can lead? Is he shown examples of how others failed where he might have prevailed? How hard it must be to accept these reasons! To see then that he should perhaps have stepped forward sooner and thus prevented the failures caused by lesser men. Such thoughts are arrogance, a reckoning of himself to more stature than others, and against his nature. Such reasoning is hard for him to accept; he must deny a part of himself to accept what they see. But it is reason and logic that guides the man, and if he accepts he may say then to his followers, “It is by logic that you convinced me to lead; now it is by logic that I lead you. As I was swayed by your reasoning, thus my logic and yours must be in agreement, and now to deny me will be to deny yourselves,” and his time of command will be without undue dissension.
Is it compulsion? Necessity? When the chain of command falls to him then certainly he bound to assume authority. This authority he can easily accept, for he has clear rules to follow at this point, whether they are to go forward or turn back, and he also knows that in time, the chain of command above him will be restored and he may fall back to his position as a follower. And if he must remain at the position of command, he can do so with only small misgivings, for he knows that his position was decided by others, others better than himself that saw this eventuality and deemed it acceptable and good. Also, he may take comfort in the idea that at a right moment, he may step aside, saying, “I have fulfilled my duty.” It is not cowardice that moves him, but humility.
Can he moved by love? Can he assume leadership for love of the followers? It will break his heart. For a leader may not do all the things he must ask of his followers. Even if he is able, he may not; as a leader it is his job to decide and direct and very rarely to do. Though he might never ask his followers to do something he himself would not gladly undertake, he will still feel guilty at each hurt that befalls them, for it could be the result of his directions, his decisions. Each time he will feel he has betrayed their trust, whether they blame him or praise him for boldness. And even in victories he will say to himself, “How much greater might this have been if someone else decided and directed?”
Other motivations exist, surely, but they are not discussed here; they do not lay heavy on my mind.
A true leader buys his position with a great pain. He must see that he has underestimated himself and failed his potential up till this point, thus he has begun by failing his followers. Or he must rise in the wake of his superiors failing, have suffered through those failings, and now try to staunch wounds, his own and his followers. Or he will suffer, at least privately, self-doubt, self-blame, and self-loathing, wondering how he can both love his followers and ask them to do what he might not. Perhaps he might suffer all of this.
Only in his maker can this man find solace. Only in seeking the infallible will can he avoid driving himself mad with fear of what might have been. He must do all he can to stay close to that unshakable voice of direction, else silence will envelope him, and in the silence all he will hear is his own doubt and dark whispers. It is the mad man, the dictator, the hotshot who believes he can fill this silence with his own shouting.
From the man leading a nation to the man leading his wife I know this applies, he must listen to the Lord.
Because I have to…
I have seen the others
And I have discovered that this fight is not worth fighting,
And I’ve seen their mothers
And I will no other to follow me where I’m going.
- The General by Dispatch