Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lack of Leadership or Lack of Practice?

I read a post a while back (Feb. 23rd - titled "Loyalty and leadership") at Vanishing American on leadership and the lack of it in our country. I'm thinking through something here, so please bear with me.

It seems to me that entitlement programs remove the necessity for individual displays of leadership. As a volunteer who teaches leadership I know that leadership is a skill. It can be developed, through training and practice. One of the biggest hurdles is finding an occasion that makes an individual motivated enough to step up to the plate and "do something". That's what almost all of the training is about - providing small opportunities to practice leadership so that when large ones come along, an individual is able to do something with them.

When a government or other entity, takes over those situations in which such a decision would ordinarily take place, then the individual is denied the opportunity to practice leadership. (Along with compassion, planning and the logical thought towards what sort of help would truly engender the best possible outcome that goes along with it.) Not only is the individual denied the opportunity to practice leadership but all those around that individual lose the opportunity to witness it and learn from the demonstration.

It is one thing to be motivated to help out those less fortunate than oneself. It is another to have a government that does it so that you don't have to. The first one is empowering. It lets you know that you make a difference. It allows you to practice those skills that make a leader. The second one is passive and tears down that sense of personal responsibility and spirit of self government that desperately needs building up in our society today.

What is this teaching our children? The opportunities to practice real leadership in the classroom are few and far between. Children used to wander around and make up their own games. How many do that now? How many children actually get an opportunity to be leaders in organized sports? Do they plan the trips? Do they set the lineup of who will play and know the reasoning behind that lineup? Organized team sports are wonderful for encouraging fitness and teaching sportsmanship, but they don't teach leadership except to a few. If we want good leaders, we must provide opportunity and training for our children to become those leaders. We must seek out organzations that are actively teaching it. (See "Where Have All the Adults Gone?" below)

"For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
"~Gen 18:19

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