Fearless

Lydia Darragh   Most Americans have never heard the name Lydia Darragh but if not for her, the American Revolution might have ended very differently, and we might be paying taxes to the British royal family to this day.

Liberty’s Spy

   During the Revolution, Lydia Darragh operated as a member of Washington’s spy network in Philadelphia where she owned a home. Her spying career began when the British took over her house as a meeting place, a move which inspired Lydia to begin hiding in a closet and eavesdropping on their conversations. Afterward, she’d send her son to relay the enemy’s secret plans and strategies to the colonists. One such intel interception is said to have saved the life of General George Washington himself.* Lydia Darragh knew she was risking her home, her freedom, and even her life to spy for the Americans, but she didn’t care; liberty was infinitely more precious than safety.

   There’s power in not caring.

The Most Hated President

   History has demonstrated that, throughout the ages, there’s absolutely no limit to what a person can accomplish if they simply don’t care what other people think. Take, for example, Abraham Lincoln. Here was a man who had lost election after election—over a dozen at least—and yet still ran for president. He didn’t care that there were many who mocked him, called him a “loser”, and made him a national laughing stock. Then later, once in office, President Lincoln was apparently not obsessed with amassing power or being voted “most lovable” because he pulled the plug on slavery, knowing full well that millions would despise him for doing it. Moreover, he had to know that he was putting his very life at risk. But he didn’t care. He only cared about doing what he knew was right.

The Shepherd King

   The same is true of King David in the Bible. David, scorned as a lowly shepherd boy, nevertheless faced down a giant because Goliath had dared to mock the living God. David was so horrified by Goliath’s blasphemy that he was willing to endure ridicule: the jeers of the whole Israeli army and the outrage of his own brothers who accused him of arrogance for having the audacity to believe he could do what seasoned warriors feared to do. Yet David didn’t care what they thought; he did what he had to do.

The Orphaned Queen   

   Then there was Queen Esther who breached protocol and approached the Persian king uninvited to plead for the lives of the Jewish people (Esther 4:11). And while such an emergency might seem to be an extenuating circumstance and so trump the royal protocol, it wasn’t—one simply did not appear before the court without a royal summons. In fact, such insolence often ended badly for the poor, misguided reprobates who’d attempted it in the past. Still, Esther’s attitude was, “‘If I perish, I perish.’” She didn’t care enough about the consequences of her “presumption” to compromise her mission. And because of that attitude, she saved the entire Jewish race.

   That’s the power of not caring.

The fear of man and his opinion is the death of many a destiny.

   Who is willing to face down ridicule, rejection, ruin and even death to accomplish that thing they were born to do? On the other hand, how many people have caved to the pressure of another man or woman’s opinion and abandoned their destinies?

   We’ll never know because their names have been lost in the dark void of compromise and fear.

Friend of Sinners

   Jesus never caved. Even when the Pharisees called him crazy, a fraud, a criminal, demon possessed—whatever they could conjure to destroy him—he never flinched. In fact, he struck back, exposing them as hypocrites, “white-washed tombs” and even murderers. Why? He simply didn’t care what they thought. As a result, he revealed corruption in the highest ranks of the Jewish leadership and shone a bright light for the poor, deceived people of Israel.

   But what if Jesus had cared about what people thought of him? He certainly would not have chosen to hang naked upon a cross or to be spit upon, mocked and humiliated before throngs of people. Moreover, he knew that scripture pronounced a curse upon anyone “hung from a tree” and that that curse included the family of the condemned; therefore, he would never have consented, by hanging upon that wooden cross (tree), to bring shame upon his family—that is, if he cared about what man thought of him.

   Not that that decision was easy for him. Just imagine what his notoriety did to the reputation of his mother, his brothers and his sisters. Did they live in shame forever after? Did his sisters have a difficult time finding men who would marry them—daughters of a cursed family? Possibly.

   Even so… Jesus could not afford to care about what people thought about him or even about his family; if he had, he would have quit. Thankfully, he did not.

Popular vs—Not…

   I daresay that behind every tale of success throughout history from the ancients to this very hour, there comes a moment when a person has to decide which he (or she) cares more about—his popularity or his destiny. If he fears the opinion of man and caves to the detriment of what is right, then destiny is lost. But if he moves forward past the “group think,” not caring about his critics or their speculations, then history is made. Fear of man has never inspired anyone to set a new trend or to blaze a new trail but instead, sadly, only to follow behind—even if it’s over the cliff he goes. 

   There’s great power in not caring what others think—and freedom. It’s the freedom to express yourself, to explore all opportunities, and to be who you were created to be.

   It’s the end of fear.

 

  • Kyla Cathey (“9 Women Who Helped Win the American Revolution”)

Do Justice, Love Mercy, Watch the Attitude.

Leadership Key

Watching the events of 2020, I can’t help but remember something the Lord told me a while back: Those in authority over others are responsible for how they treat those they are in authority over. This applies, not just to law enforcement (the big debate lately), but to all facets of leadership—from politicians, church and corporate leaders to parents, teachers, and caregivers. Everyone one of us who leads others—whether a nation or a classroom—will be held accountable for our treatment of others. That is the measurement tool, in God’s eyes, of a faithful leader.

LADYBUGS vs. WASPS

The fact is that no matter what realm we function in, we’re subject to leadership training of all makes and models—theories and policies and “best practices”—oh, my—by which we all must abide. And they are as distinctly different as a ladybug from a wasp; both are insects, but that’s about all they have in common. Leadership training is the same way; there are endless models but there are three common types under which most fit.

THE “TOP-DOWN” MODEL.

This basically means that one person or a small group of people make the rules and the rest follow, with little or no input. This model runs the gamut from government to family relationships and everything in between. And while that might be the job description for a CEO or Supreme Court Justice, it doesn’t work everywhere. Where it does work is in places where the people in charge, even with the final say, listen to others and treat them compassionately, even when “encouraging” compliance.

THE “DEMOCRATIC” MODEL.

This type of leadership is designed to seek input from other people or groups and allows for the majority to affect the decisions made by recognized leaders. Leaders are then responsible for implementing those decisions, having the authority to assign consequences to those not abiding by them. Entities using this model might establish committees, host elections or answer to a board of directors. Government, churches, businesses and institutions are often supposed to run this way, but it all boils down to one question: Will the leaders take the input solicited or is the requested collaboration simply for show?

THE “FREE-FOR-ALL” MODEL.

This type of leadership is simply a kind of “mob rules” approach which has a figurehead for a leader but often the bottom line is that the loudest and/or most disruptive people usually take the wheel. This type of “leadership” is usually the default when true leaders are afraid that their decisions might be unpopular; therefore, rules are either mythical creatures or enforced only sporadically or not at all. We’ve all seen out-of-control classrooms where a teacher has simply lost command and the mob rules—usually because the teacher fears any confrontation by naughty students who’ve never met a rule they liked.

Sadly, we’ve also seen this recently in cities where the rule of law has been abdicated and chaos reigns. This is where we get the old adage, “The inmates are running the asylum.” It’s not necessarily that the “inmates” have no legitimate claim or request but rather that they’re simply not equipped to manage whatever they’re seeking—usually because they have no conception of leadership—good, bad, or indifferent. Pretending they do never bodes well.

True and effective leadership only happens when two things coexist: A rule of law and leaders who consider those under their authority to be more important than their own careers, reputations or bank accounts. 

Jesus might have mentioned that when he pointed out that true leaders are servants first.

GOD’S MODEL OF LEADERSHIP.

In his Word, God very succinctly states his requirement for leadership: “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

One doesn’t have to be a Bible scholar or even a Christian to recognize the wisdom in that short admonition. If, as leaders, we “do justice,” we will not judge according to economic status, race, religion, gender or any other criteria, but only according to the standard of the law.

If we “love mercy,” we will make the decision best for the individual—within the confines of the law—and if consequences are required, we will implement them with compassion.

If we “walk humbly with our God,” we will recognize that we are not, by any means, perfect or incapable of error, and we will submit our will to his. We will also accept that we are accountable for how we treat others and ask God for an attitude adjustment if necessary.

I believe that in order to be wise, righteous, and compassionate leaders, we must look to that simple verse in Micah—and follow it. It’s not a complicated principle; it doesn’t take a college degree or a month of “leadership training” to comprehend, but it is the most effective leadership model we will ever find.

That is—if we really want to be effective leaders.