As we watch the presidential race take shape heading into the convention season, one question I hear from most people willing to engage in the conversation is, “Where are the Statesmen?”
Political rallies in America kind of look like a pep rally at a local high school athletic complex. People are shouting and cheering, banners are flying from the rafters, and often you’ll get the time honored confetti and balloons dropping from the ceiling. But again, the core question I hear from people I talk to is, “Where are the leaders?”
I spend quite a bit of time talking with friends who live overseas and the common question from other countries goes something like this. “Of all the people in America, is this the best you guys have?” And I turn and just shake my head.
There are leaders in America.
There are people who care deeply about intelligent conversations.
There are wonderful people in Washington, D.C. who might bring the tone of a “statesmen” or “stateswomen” to the table.
But what are we doing to help raise the next generation of leaders?
We can complain about the choice of candidates today, but if we’re not investing in the future then we’ll never get out of the current state of affairs.
So my question this morning is, “What makes a Leader?”
A Leader is Someone with Strong Conviction
Great leaders understand that the nature of their conviction is the part of their character that people are willing to follow. One of the primary characteristics of influential leaders is their commitment to their conviction.
Youth programs all over America are pining to find a way to encourage conviction in students. Schools are trying to help students find their reason to learn. Universities are providing vehicles for students to find their passion. Faith groups are helping students see the importance of living a life that’s “worthy.” But the culture is moving in the opposite direction.
Conviction is seen as a problematic road block to compromise.
I believe the nature of someone’s conviction can help us see into the character of the individual. Great leaders who change history hold to values for the many. They see the value of life. They often see the value of liberty. They fight for the freedom of the many. They see themselves as conduits to help serve, rather than sit on the selfish side of gain.
Where are the leaders with strong convictions today?
A Leader Knows how to Navigate Hard Issues and Inspire
The great presidents of the past were able to gather political will of the masses. Whether it was the controversial Reagan presidency, the Clinton years, or even the most recent 2008 Obama election; all were able to navigate tough issues and inspire people.
Maybe it’s the charisma naturally given to those people when they were born, or maybe there’s a way to help students engage with with idea that inspiration can be taught.
After watching the current presidential world, I don’t know many people who are inspired by the candidates. In fact, most people I talk to are jockeying for the vote of lesser of two evils.
Where are the leaders with the ability to Inspire in a positive way?
A Leader Understands The Impact of Decision, And Then Makes One
The current characteristic of the culture of students (and I’ve been working with students for almost 20 years) is an indecisive group. Today’s students aren’t being taught how to make tough decisions and commit to those decisions.
Commitment is a dirty word. Flexibility is the badge of honor in our culture today. Many of the students I work with will give me an answer like, “Well, I want to come, but we’ll see.” Which is code for, I’d love to join you, but if something more exciting comes along, I’m going to bail on my commitment to you.
Where are the leaders who are able to commit to a decision and stand with integrity?
I know they’re out there. But I’m committed to finding them, and training them. If we’re unhappy with the current state of the political landscape, we can either a.)continue to complain or b.) go out and help create vehicles for students to learn what it means to be a leader.
I’m committed to helping students be leaders.