Who shall lead?
A Christian Science perspective: A response to the Monitor editorial ‘What a woman might do as the world’s chief diplomat.’
The Monitor editorial “What a woman might do as world’s chief diplomat” has stirred me to consider the spiritual qualities of leadership that build relationships and can lead to effective problem-solving on the world stage. Patience, reflection, intuition, wisdom – such peacemaking and consensus-building qualities – aren’t gender-specific. The Scriptures reveal the essence of manhood and womanhood, the male and female of God’s creating, to be entirely spiritual. This means that the true individuality of each of us is the likeness of Spirit – the reflection of God, good, expressing the full range of qualities of goodness (see Genesis 1).
The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, once emphasized that momentous concept by stating, “Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 516). From this it would reasonably follow that the man and woman of God’s creating reflect “in glorified quality” the fullness of Spirit.
Once when my husband and I were involved in selling a piece of real estate in a small European country, we encountered hardy resistance to my participation in the process. In that country, most decisions, certainly all business dealings, were left to husbands, fathers, and older male children; socially, women subserved the interests of men. Although my husband respected me and considered me a full business partner, the potential buyers made it clear to me that they did not. At one point late in the process, the negotiations languished; we had reached a stalemate. Recognizing that this relatively simple deal was foundering, I prayed for spiritual insight to break the logjam.
Christian Science teaches the importance of casting out fear at the very beginning of healing prayer, because fear fosters a sense of separation from God’s goodness and makes problems seem more powerful and real. The way out of fear is through understanding the true nature of God as all-powerful Mind, who is the real Father and Mother of us all. Understanding that all of God’s creation – including men and women – are the full and equal expression of God, infinite good, brings spiritual insight and authority to destroy any fear that would otherwise make a problem seem vast and unsolvable.
My prayer to know God better led me to see that God’s creation is not divided by gender, race, custom, culture, or stereotypes, and that God expresses His divine qualities in all of us equally, without limitation. Receptivity to good, unflagging energy, courage, wisdom, and resilience ultimately have their source in God, and are not therefore confined to one individual and withheld from another. God as divine Life is the source of patience, peace, and intuition, and the understanding of this truth is available to us all. No one is excluded from reflecting the divine qualities necessary to fill his or her unique niche in life. No one can or needs to deprive another of her or his ability to contribute to progress, because God as divine Love provides everyone with the unlimited ability to express good at all times.
I rebelled at the thought that either I or anyone else could block another’s expression of good. I am not sure how long I prayed, but I gained clarity of thought and an idea of just how we could move the deal forward. As the negotiations started again, there was a marked deepening of respect shown toward me by those with whom we were dealing. Perceiving their true nature first in prayer enabled me to recognize in the buyers their true spirituality and goodness as we finalized the deal. The sale went quickly through, blessing all parties.
True leadership qualities have their source in God and can be understood and expressed by all of us. A growing recognition of this truth will free people and cultures from limiting, mistaken stereotypes and open the door more fully to the wise, effective leadership humanity needs.