Power, Position, Prestige

   "My idea of an agreeable man is one who agrees with me."—Benjamin Disraeli

   We are in the office seeking time of year just before elections. This seems as good a time as any to write about power, position and prestige.

  We could say, first, there are not so many positions of power and prestige that just any fellow can have one. The men who seek them understand fruit falls close to the tree.

   For most of human history, rulers govern in totalitarian mode. Democracy comes late and is often messy. Democratic leaders sometimes seem to have only the most limited grasp of its ethics. Jefferson divided democratic leaders into two groups; those who thought the people inadequate and so hid things from them and the second group, who thought the people were the sum total of wisdom and so trusted them.

   Nixon held the first view.

   He was not the only one.

   For a truly democratic leader however, even the privileged position at the summit is shared. He does not so much seek to fight anyone as he does to unite his people, thus to seek their connected wisdom.

   He is not alone, ever, not in a democracy, for his people guide him. He steers with the current but he sees the people as the force driving the ship of state.

   Why would a man seek position, only to fight for it again in two years, or hand it off after eight? Some may have that fallen impulse to seek position for the status it exudes. I think these are more rare in American politics, if not in religious politics, than we might believe.

   Ideally, a man should not so much seek position as he should accept it when it seeks him. How does position seek the man? His God leads him. His conscience guides him. His family supports him. His friends promote him. People he does not call friends still admire him. People he does not know hear him.

   His times demand him.

   So, we should never push a low man into a high office. He will demean the office. The office will destroy him.

   Position seduces. A man must decline the sweet faces and soft voices of the court.

   The fellow who steps forward to climb up must see how every upward step requires more of him. Altitude is not just visibility, it is thinner air. The failings others ignore in the second-tier man become scent to the hounds in the higher office.

   From over here, where I work most happily among God's own people now, it is clear the people are wiser in the whole than the sum total of the people who lead in part. The wise people understand a scam when they see it. No one fools them much, nor for long.

   If you would occupy high position, have as your motives at least these ideals:

  • Accept position to serve a loving God.
  • Accept position to help others and, by others, mean all others.
  • Accept position to oppose evil, for active opposition to evil is the rule even in most gentle faiths.



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