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The importance of leadership
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    The most used definition of religion is, and this is not the only definition, "Any specific system of belief, worship, conduct, etc., often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy." What that means to me is that if we believe in a higher power, we also act and understand like we believe in that outside force that connects us to the infinite. In my humble thought process, if I call someone "doctor" then I accept his or her credentials and allow him or her to heal or cure. The same process can be easily applied to a pilot, a homemaker, a lawyer, you name it. And, a Christian is one who believes in Christ, claims to be a Christian and practices being a Christian. In other words, the Christian is recognizable.
    Some 30 years ago, I served as the chair of the Urban Task Force for the Presbytery of the Everglades in Miami, Florida. In order to be able to function and lead as the chair, I needed to get a handle on the requirements, information, facts, and have all the support I could muster. I asked for a representative of our General Assembly, who was an expert in demographics, and sat up a meeting with every person who I believed had an impact on the people of Dade County. I was able to get appointments with the mayor of Miami, the mayor of Dade County, a senator, a couple of activists, the city planner and a potful of dignitaries. I was very fortunate of have Rubin Askew, governor of Florida, and a member of my church in central Miami.
    After meeting with all these very bright and energetic folks for the better part of three long days, the Urban expert sat down with me over coffee and said, "I asked the entire panel this question, 'Are you familiar with the religious leadership in Miami and Dade County and what kind of an impact do you believe they have made?'"
    He told me that most sat there scratching their heads, and one person told me they not only did not know any religious leaders, they felt that the churches, the synagogues, the mosques, made no difference to speak of. If our definition of religion is accurate, then the religious leadership in Miami/Dade County was impotent, ineffective and casual at best when it came to acting and making changes in the communities.
    I felt like a total incompetent! As far as my own church was concerned, we met constantly with every ethnic group, visited the prisons, gangs and spoke with local citizens in their communities. But I had to admit we weren't making a dent in the hatred between ethnic groups, slowing down drug use or stopping gang warfare. And crime was escalating at such a rate that few churches could hold evening meetings, and one third of my congregation was armed on any given Sunday!
    I believed that the Urban committee had a paradigm, a model, to try to make sense of our dilemma: we were meeting with the one hope that we could unite Miami in order to create a future secure society for all the residents. Our weakness was that each member of that committee had a vision, but it didn't connect with every other member. We needed to focus on what made us all great! Someone stood and said, "I may have an answer. My community elected me as their leader because they believed in me and said that I could be trusted to make changes happen. Do we have such a leader or can we find such a leader that the majority of change makers can make a difference?"
    In our time of political turmoil, if we can get a leader who is knowledgeable, trustworthy, courageous and worthy, then we can have a government like none other has ever existed. This is one quantum leap: get rid of all political debates and have each party work to develop the best qualified leader, pledge their complete support to that chosen leader, be available to teach that leader only the best skills needed to be a fine outstanding executive and then have an open and fair election by the people.
    God has already set up the perfect model to follow. Can we do the same?
    Thanks, God!

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