Thursday, August 9, 2012

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--Condoleezza Rice--No Higher Honor

Getting ready to listen to Condoleezza Rice to see what I can glean to help me lead better for Operation Christmas Child--

How different is it to be in government and out of government?  I can now read the newspaper and know I don't have responsibility for what is happening.

In the past 10 years three big shocks in our society--1) 9/11 --we're now in a different environment of physical insecurity  2) financial and global economic shock of 2008 -- sense of economic insecurity  3) Arab strength -- authoritarianism can never be secure.  Anger is a terrible way to make reform and that's what we're seeing in the middle east.

What we're really seeing is the universality of freedom--no one wants to live in tyranny.  Democracy is the system that is based on not only freedoms but on responsibility.

"My ancestors were, in the constitution, 3/5th of a man."  Democracy requires an understanding that it cannot mean the tyranny of the majority.  If minority rights are not protected the system will not be stable.  Nor can the strong exploit the weak.  Governments can only do so much but they cannot put into the heart of every citizen the belief that there should be no weak links because democracy is only as strong as its weakest link.  The strong have to bring the weak along to be stronger.  If the strong exploit the weak, democracy will not be stable.

Every life is worthy.  In democracy there are no kings and queens, no permanent stations in life.  If every life is worthy, every life is also capable of greatness.  And if every life is capable of greatness we have the responsibility to make sure the opportunity is there.

As Christians, we are equal not only under the law, but under God.  As children of God, no one can be more worthy.  Our Lord Jesus died for each and every one of us.  

The church when it goes out into the world understands it has a responsibility to act as if every life is worthy.  Government cannot deliver compassion.  When she traveled to visit those working with AIDS victims, she saw the compassion of legions of workers delivering compassion.  This has to be the work of people who believe every life is worthy.

It is important to deliver compassion but the best thing you can do is to give them control of their own future by giving them the chance to be educated.  John Wesley Rice Sr. (her grandfather) saved and went to a Presbyterian college.  He was told he could get a scholarship if he became a Presbyterian minister so that's what he decided to be.  And that decision to do what he needed to become educated changed his life and the lives of his family.

If you are fortunate enough to lead in challenging times, it's important to realize that there are dangers but there's so much opportunity.  The opportunity to lead carries many responsibilities and one is to help people see their own leadership potential.  We have a model of this in Christ Jesus who called ordinary people to establish His church.  Can we do any less than help others become leaders?  They must see in you the possibility of a better future.  Leaders must be persistent optimists.

How do you remain optimistic in difficult time?  Keep perspective about what hard circumstances really are.  Imagine what it was like to lead after World War II?

Out of struggle, comes victory.  That is the central message of our Christian faith--that after Friday there would be Sunday.  It's a privilege to struggle.  When you're not struggling you think it's your own hard work that will overcome.  But when you're drive to your knees because you have nowhere else to go, you come to a peace that passes understanding.

How could a man in a jail cell in South Africa have a vision for a multi-ethnic South Africa?  How could a Polish shipyard worker somehow believe that he could overthrow Communism by climbing a fence?  How could a little girl who grows up in segregated Birmingham, AL become the Secretary of State?  Somehow things that one day seemed impossible can seem inevitable.   They were not inevitable, they were the work of people who sacrificed everything for a principle.  They were people who never accepted the world as it is but worked for the world as it should be.  That is the true calling of leaders.

I am grateful for the prayers of so many and most of all I am grateful for the faith of my father and my mother that gave me a foundation to take on the challenge of leadership.

Together we make the world not as it is, but as it should be.


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