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Spiritual models of leadership

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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Over the last few months, I've been praying quite a bit about leadership, primarily in connection with the US presidential primaries. It's hard to know which candidate will be best suited for the job: The one with the best résumé? Most experience? Snappiest answer in a debate?

As I was praying about the various criteria for a good leader, I thought of some of the people described in the Bible.

In leading the children of Israel, Moses exhibited extraordinary perseverance and love for his people. David was a man of physical courage, and even though he made some big mistakes, he also had a good sense of justice and fair play. Solomon had many gifts – intelligence, political savvy, the ability to work well with other nations – but the one for which he was commended by God was his humility in asking for the wisdom to rule his people rather than for riches and power.

These are only three of the people in the Bible who played leadership roles and exhibited wonderful qualities. But to me the gold standard was set by Jesus, who patiently nurtured his disciples, who had the courage to stand up to his enemies and to hypocrites. Yet he recommended a most unusual path to his followers. Instead of advising the accumulation of power, he told them: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3, 4).

Jesus' willingness to trust God – his Father and ours – through great danger, and even to the threshold of death, shows his courage, perseverance, strength, wisdom, and intelligence. But his ministry is marked by humility, by his conviction that God is ever present and that our job is to humbly follow His leading. Instead of claiming an exclusive specialness for himself, he said, in effect, "Be childlike, follow our Father, and you can have this same relationship."

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