Upside-Down Leadership

Upside-Down Leadership

By: By: Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano*

Christians of the Bible variety are strange people. They belong to what is called today as the “upside-down kingdom” following, of course, “upside-down” values or standards. Take leadership for example.

To lead, one has to learn to follow… to respect…to obey. Leaders, to be worthy of the name, have to bow their knees to Almighty God, fear His name, and obey His commandments. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” so King Solomon said in the book of Proverbs. And he started quite well as a leader himself though he forgot what it was all about after having been swamped with seven hundred wives and three hundred more of concubines.

Surveying our political scene, there is a great need for godly wisdom among our leaders to make a difference in the quality of our national life. As it is, there are more circuses and vaudevilles than careful thought and responsible action.

After the recognition of God as the Sovereign Lord of All comes learning to respect the majesty of the law enshrined in our Constitution. Not going around it or positioning ourselves above it. It is not for lack of leaders that our country is suffering from. It is their own lack of respect for our laws and systems. In general, our nation’s leaders are hopelessly bad models.

To be a master, Jesus said, is to be a servant, which to Jesus meant washing smelly, used feet, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, giving hope to the dispossessed, and preaching the good news of salvation to His people under foreign domination. Appropriating similar actions of service appears to be the least of our leaders’ concerns today. Most of them seek for status, not service; control of the poor, not compassion for them; power, not national peace; largesse rather than liberty. The term “public servant” is a dead expression resurrected only during electoral campaigns to court people’s votes. Our leaders would rather strut than serve.

Also, Jesus has this queer idea, and that is, if you want to be elevated to a higher position, sit at the lowest bottom seat. Show your worthiness in doing small things, and people will soon recognize your capability in doing big things. Promotion is not really hard to come by if there is faithfulness and effectiveness in the work that a person does, even now. Translated in electoral terms, any person who has an excellent public record of service untainted by any serious moral lapses will be perceived by thoughtful and responsible voters to be a leader. In due time, he/she will be given the position of leadership.

Not guns, goons and gold do a true leader make. If they did, it is not leadership— but terrorism. And no respectable, peace-loving Filipino will commit the same mistake of voting to power a strong man again. In so far as Jesus is concerned, humility and competence are basic ingredients in leadership.

If competence does not grow out of the barrel of a gun, neither does it grow merely from the ground of sincerity and religiousness. Coupled with moral integrity, we need leaders who have a clear vision of where we want to go as a people. Leaders who not only dream dreams, and articulate them in elegant words, but are pragmatic enough to put the vision in practical, operational and meaningful terms. Leaders who have skills in governance, decisive and swift in the implementation of justice, strong and united in promoting the people’s welfare, passionate in the pursuit of peace, and free-loving enough to embrace every man, woman and child and their ideas under a democratic system.

But to have these kinds of leaders, we have to look at leadership from the “upside-down” perspective which in truth and in fact is really the right side up.

*Mrs. Evelyn Feliciano wrote this article when she was on the staff of ISACC more than a decade ago. Her words continue to speak today.

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