Who to vote for

In many democracies people do not have much choice. It normally comes down to two people, as in the recent Zambian elections. You may have reservations about the one you vote for, but he or she is the best available. In theory the perfect leader should surely be there in a population of millions. But in practice we seem to have an awful lot of inadequate leaders in the world.

What shocked the first people who listened to Jesus was the sense that he spoke ‘with authority’. Twice within a few verses in the opening chapter of Mark we have this phrase and we are told it made a ‘deep impression.’ People had been used to being ‘lorded over’ not only by the Roman government but by their own religious leaders, the Pharisees and chief priests. But here was something different.

It is fair to surmise that the ‘something new’ that people felt on hearing Jesus was that he did not threaten them, but released within them a force that made them feel free and able to do what was most in accord with what they wanted to do at their deepest level. In other words he made them feel in tune with themselves, with what they really wanted to be and do.

We have only to look at the women in the gospels – always much more expressive than men – to see this. The woman in Luke chapter 7 dries his feet with her hair and Mary Magdalene wants to hold on to him in the resurrection scene in John 20. Jesus brought out the best in people.

That is the role of a leader. Sometimes he or she has to restrain people but mostly the task is to release the energies that are there, to create conditions for people to do things themselves. If you hold a bird in your hand you have a choice. In your fear that it will fly away you can hold it so tightly you will suffocate it, or you will hold it too loosely and it will escape.

The gospels say nothing about politics as we know it, but they do describe how authority is to be exercised. The word ‘authority’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to grow’ and this is the task of the leader: to help people grow. All of us remember good teachers we have known at some stage of our journey. Why were they good? If we look into it the reason is because they helped us to think and discover. They did not impose. They encouraged us and read or listened with respect to our sometimes faltering efforts. A leader is someone who reveals the gifts and indeed the beauty of another person. Such a one would get my vote. – Ngomakurira

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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