DEFINING THE NATURE OF LEADERSHIP

The original starship Enterprise (from here)
The original starship Enterprise (from here)

When I was a teenager, I use to watch Star Trek. It was a great show, and I very much enjoyed it. However, in retrospect I realize some of the ideas the show promoted were awfully wrong. Why bring that up now? Well, Tony, a commenter had this to say about Hillary Clinton.

It seems to me that many here are judging Secretary Clinton by a different standard than they would ever judge a man. I think this has to do with deep seated cultural and psychological resentments that both men and women share against women who are ambitious for political power, even though such ambition is a necessary character trait for anyone, male or female, who would seek a high political office, much less for someone seeking the highest political office in the land. Men who seek and wield political power are expected to be coldly calculating and shrewdly manipulative, but when a woman does it, it is denounced as a character flaw.

For example, take the Wikileaks revelations. Stretch your imagination. Start by imagining that an adversarial foreign power hacked Trump supporters’ emails in order to influence our elections in favor of Hillary Clinton, and that the voracity of each item likely has been tampered with. Now, if you can, imagine the same emails as attributing whatever it is that is negative toward Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton. If the leaked item made Trump seem ambitious toward power, coldly calculating and cunningly manipulative, would you, find that to be admirable qualities for a negotiator, or at least would you give Trump a pass and explain it away. Many here have repeatedly given Trump a pass for much, much worse. So why the double standard? Why the false equivalencies? And who is really playing “identity politics” here? (from here)

That comment brought back memories of an episode from the original Star Trek series, The Enemy Within (see here, here , and here for a description). What was the basis for the plot?

After a transporter malfunction separates Kirk’s personality into two separate individuals, the captain’s evil half roams about the Enterprise like a madman while his upright opposite gradually loses his ability to command the ship due to his meek and indecisive disposition. As Spock and Scotty scramble star-trek-the-enemy-within around in a desperate effort to reunite both Captain Kirks without killing them/him in the process, Sulu and his fellow landing party members are informed that they must remain on the inhospitable surface of the planet Alfa 177 until the transporters can be repaired. (from here)

The theory presented in The Enemy Within is that in order to be a “good” leader we have to be a little evil. That is, the skill of leadership requires a certain balance between good and bad traits. At the time, it made sense. Now? Hogwash!

Consider what evil involves.  An evil person is indifferent to everyone except themselves. Everyone else exists merely as an object to be used.

What should we care about most in a leader? We should desire that that person loves God and his or her neighbor.

Matthew 22:35-40 New King James Version (NKJV)

35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

There are no evil or good halves at war within us. We are born sinners. Until we learn to love God and each other — until we do love someone besides our own self — we are wholly given to evil. Until we honor God above all else, we will succumb to temptation and do evil. Instead of serving others, we will try to use our family, friends, and neighbors for our own selfish purposes. Therefore, Jesus described a different sort of leader.

Matthew 20:25-28 New King James Version (NKJV)

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Because they loved God and their neighbors so much, Jesus’ apostles, ordinary men, were able to lead others to Christ.

8 thoughts on “DEFINING THE NATURE OF LEADERSHIP

  1. Being also a Star Trek fan, I love this Tom.

    I think that I said once before that one of my last jobs in the Navy Reserves before I retired was to teach and oversee at the base where I was stationed a mandatory Navywide course on leadership. The basic premise of the course is that integrity is the essence of leadership. Therefore, you will get no argument from me on this count.

    On the other hand, one can have integrity and still be calculating. One can be ambitious for doing what one sees as God’s work, and still have integrity. One can even be kind of manipulative and still have integrity. From your own quotes of St. Paul referenced earlier and from your reading of letters attributed to Paul in the Bible, don’t you think Paul was calculating, extremely ambitious and even often more than a little manipulative? Wouldn’t you also agree that St. Paul was a great early leader of the church who had a basic integrity that his followers could rely upon, or they would not have followed Paul and his advice?

    I therefore disagree that the Star Trek metaphor was completely incorrect. People do not really exist in a duality of good and evil. Real people exist somewhere on a virtuous balance most often existing between two extremes of vices. Ambition is virtuous as long as it is a balance between the greedy grab for power and selfish and cowardly sloth.

    The ultimate virtuous measure, in my humble opinion, is what you quoted Jesus as saying about loving for God and humanity. What makes the balance virtuous is love. What gives the balance integrity is love. Vice is all about individual selfishness whereas virtue is always directed with love and compassion outward toward God and other earthly souls.

    If this is the measure we are using to compare the two candidates, and we are able to set aside our prejudices against woman who show these same leadership traits as we expect men to have, there really is no comparison. Clinton is far from perfect, but she wins hands down against Trump. I don’t think Trump is the devil, but he is unabashedly greedy and selfish. He glorifies in his own vice, and thinks those vices should be regarded as virtues. This is not even a close call if you are going to use real integrity and virtue as your measurement scale and if you are going to really use love of God and each other as the virtuous balance point.

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    1. If I don’t praise H. Clinton’s lies as wonderfully devious, sneaky and thoughtful, I am guilty of sexism and hypocrisy? Yet you begin by saying “that integrity is the essence of leadership”.

      Where is the term balance relevant? The Apostle John observed that Jesus was full of grace and truth. We must point to the truth, but to the extent we can we must do so without being hurtful or shaming people. Do I know the Truth? Not as Jesus did. Have I His grace? No. I can just pray for His aid.

      How did the Apostle Paul manipulate people? You accuse him of doing just that, but you did not provide an example. So I will give you one. He lived what he preached. When he suffered for his faith, he made those afraid to do the same feel ashamed.

      Suffering and dying for ones beliefs can be terribly manipulative. I certainly feel manipulated. I know damn well I don’t have the courage of my convictions, certainly not the way Paul did.

      Has Clinton lied? Even you don’t have the nerve to say she has not.

      Has Trump lied? I think it is safe to say he has stretched the truth. However, unlike Clinton, he is not engaged in the coverup of plainly illegal and unethical acts. With respect to lies, those two are not even in the same ball park.

      And don’t give me the crap about the allegations of groping women. The advantages of springing that stuff as October surprise is just too obvious.

      On the hand, the charges against Clinton are not new. In fact, that has been one of the counters. “Old news.” What is new are the WikiLeaks and the projectveritasaction.com videos. Now we have additional proof.

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  2. I used to LOVE the old Star Trek series!

    Now whenever I watch it I feel my IQ drop about 10 points per episode and wonder what I ever saw in it.

    You bring up a good example of the canned stupid being freely given away by, “The Enemy Within.”

    Our human nature is integral.

    Segmenting our human nature into good and evil parts makes as much sense as trying to segment the water in a pool with a butter knife.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I find the flaw is with this binary thinking. Good vs evil, saint vs sinner, right vs wrong, leaders vs followers – that Kirk was essentially split in two and what it is to be human was separated. But I’d like to think that what makes us who we are is deeply part of each and every cell, that it’s written into all of us completely. We’re all good, and we’re evil. We’re all saints, and we’re all sinners. We’re all right and we’re all wrong. We all have the potential to be leaders and the ability to all be followers. Didn’t Jesus say: ““Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Even “bad” people aren’t completely evil – and that’s why “good” people can do evil things.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the comment and a well chosen passage from scripture.

      Virtue is rooted in love, our love of God and each other. We learn wisdom, the practice of virtue, by loving God and each other. To be wise is to know how to best serve God and man.

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  4. From a post-modern American perspective, good and evil IS binary. It is based solely, at least politically, in the judgment of whether something belongs to the red or blue camps. If you are red, then all blue is evil. If you are blue, all red is evil.

    Take, for instance, the allegations of sexual assault made against Trump. His supporters, the reds, say they are nothing but a distraction and the work of outside scandal mongers. Now consider the implications of the email leaks regarding Clinton. Her supporters, the blues, say they are nothing but a distrac…wait a second! Its the same rhetoric on both sides for whatever indiscretion their chosen messiah happens to be implicated in.

    In the end, the two candidates are a reflection of the two parties: the progressives and the not-so-progressives, slowly progressing to their ruin with some emotional appeals to national values both sides, especially the most “conservative” or “patriotic” among them, forgot ages ago.

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  5. @Stephen

    I suppose you thought that quote from G. K. Chesterton that you used here (=> https://citizentom.com/2016/10/25/presidential-pros-and-cons-religious-freedom/#comment-71321) a great find. So now you now intend to press it to the end. Since Chesterton wrote those words for the Illustrated London News (1924), I seriously doubt their relevance. In any event, I suspect he like me would just classify you as just another type of busybody Progressive and sigh in resignation.

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