The following is a guest post by Boston based writer, Kim Shippey:
As Americans enter polling stations and cast their votes for president leading up to the final November 8 showdown, many of them will be will be focusing more closely than ever before on such issues as talent, character, and leadership—three topics recently discussed by business consultant, public speaker, and author Jon Gordon.
In an August 8 newsletter to his regular readers Gordon wrote: “If you asked 100 people how important character is to build a great team I bet at least 95 would say it’s essential. After all, you can be the greatest leader or coach [or president, I would add] on the planet, but if your team lacks character you will fail to reach your potential.”
Talent without character is like a race car with no steering wheel, Gordon adds. ”It looks great from the outside and drives fast but without something guiding it, a crash is very likely.”
There are no race cars in the Bible, but it’s certainly a book about men and women of character, and about avoiding crashes in life. Think for a moment of the way the shepherd boy David is selected by Samuel to rule over Israel. Guided by God, Samuel learns that while man looks at the outward appearance, “the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7, New International Version).
This is helpfully echoed in an observation from the twentieth century Russian writer and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who suggested that “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart”(quoted in The Road to Character, Random House, 2015).
David is an obedient son, brave, yet humble. The Bible makes no attempt to hide his later failures as he lives life with zest, but it does confirm his belief in the unchanging and forgiving nature of God.
The book of Ruth, which precedes the books of Samuel in the Old Testament, is another account of God’s grace in the midst of difficult circumstances. Ruth, an immigrant, was a woman of extraordinary character—hard working, loving, kind, loyal, and courageous. Ruth consistently lived out the qualities she believed in, regardless of her surroundings. Her example confirms that people of character make their choices with God’s eternal values in mind.
This brings us back to the presidential politics of our own time. In his newsletter, Gordon returns to talent and character. Moral character drives talent toward greatness, he clarifies. If you have leaders who are “humble, hungry, hard working, honest, dedicated, selfless, loyal, passionate, and accountable” they will develop their talent and make the right decisions to benefit themselves and the team. Character, Gordon says, guides and drives team members to be their best and bring out the best in others.
I would also suspect that Gordon (and Solzhenitsyn in his time) might agree that the Science of Christianity practiced by Christ Jesus and helpfully explained by Mary Baker Eddy in her book Science and Health with Key to he Scriptures provides insights into the divine character that undergirds the lives of so many of today’s spiritual thinkers and leaders.
Eddy, for example, urged leaders in various fields to accept that an understanding of this Science develops one’s latent abilities and possibilities. “It extends the atmosphere of thought, giving mortals access to broader and higher realms. It raises the thinker into his native air of insight and perspicacity” (p. 128).
Insight and perspicacity. David had those qualities. Ruth had them. This is a good time to pray that those qualities among many others, dominate candidates’ and voters’ thinking in this year’s US election.
Kim Shippey is an international journalist and broadcaster based in Boston, Massachusetts.