Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Some thoughts on 'leadership,' part 1 — leading, not driving

Many supporters of President Donald Trump became such precisely because of what they consider his take-no-prisoners, no-nonsense, no compromise style of “leadership.”

But given yesterday’s threat he made toward North Korea upon learning about a possible nuclear attack on Guam — he said, off the cuff, that “[it] will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” — I’m wondering if he really understands leadership.

Because there’s quite a difference between “leading” and “driving,” the latter I refer to as exercising existential authority for its own sake — “because I say so.” You can and probably need to do that with children, but above a certain age it gets tiresome.

This becomes dangerous in the spiritual realm as well, with numerous Christian groups basically on his team for similar reasons. Some pastors and other leaders, wrongly in my view, have said that America’s pulpits are being victimized by “weak preaching [against sin]” and need to redouble their efforts for things to turn around morally.

It’s dangerous because approaching things in that way leads to not only legalism but also cultural and social isolation. Nobody wants to deal with people determined to have their way for its own sake, which is why, despite all the religious right’s time and energy in trying to re-impose “Christian” values in the public square in the 1980s, doing so proved ineffective. (And that won’t change, even with redoubled efforts during the Trump Administration — indeed, perhaps even because of such.)

I haven’t seen any recent polls measuring Trump’s effectiveness as a leader; they can’t be too high these days, however. Being a jerk may attract a certain segment of the population but can take you only so far.

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