I was very young when I heard the saying ‘Nero fiddled while Rome burned’.
It related to the devastatingly destructive fire that burned through Rome in A.D. 64. Emperor Nero was preoccupied. He was focused on playing his fiddle. He was a hated Emperor by the end of his reign, so they say. True or not, it came to summarize the reign of a self indulgent Emperor, distracted and unwilling to be involved in the tragic sufferings of the people.
January 6 2021 events in Washington DC play a similar tune. It was the day that the President fiddled and burned Rome too.
The President, fixated on a lost election, incessantly repeated baseless fraud stories to ensure that truth got lost in innuendo and conspiracy theories. People started to question seriously whether the man would or should actually leave office.
Meanwhile, the individual American is trying to get a grip on the Covid-19 pandemic with its grim reaper that is getting dangerously close to home, vaccinations that don’t appear to getting near to enough arms, kids out of school, job insecurity. Well. You know the story.
The symbolic heart of American democracy under attack in DC. Where is this leader? He is fixated to convince the world as he has convinced himself that he won an election that he lost. At some point, you wonder: Does anyone really care?
Leadership makes a person greater than they truly are.
England’s King Charles II of the 17th Century was also an unpopular leader. Probably is up there with Nero and other self indulgent monsters. London caught on fire. It was horrific and out of control driven by high winds and destroying homes of all. The unpopular, hapless King rode into the city, took charge. With a strategy he organized people. The King helped put out the fire. His reputation soared. You cannot lead without serving the people around you. Doesn’t matter if people like you or not. Doesn’t matter what your political philosophy may be.
We all desire a decent, able leader of good moral character with a little integrity thrown in, who will show us a reasonable future. More so if we have children and an extended family that loves us. We want our children to fulfill our dream as they build their own. Future, realized potential, gives energy to our hope.
Leaders are identified when they are willing and able to fulfill the role. Leadership demands the ability to create a vision of the future that we can all be a part of; that all can help create. Leadership shows us that working together we accomplish more. Leaders get us to work together on building a future that is better for all of us. Politics at any level, whether it be a President or Pastor, becomes a circus when it is just about ‘ourselves’.
Jesus never wrote any books about how to be a good leader. He set the example by serving others and teaching others to serve others. Jesus had ‘everyone’s back’ as we might say today. He healed and fed and showed others how to do the same. He had a religious practice and lifestyle that enabled him to keep himself together. It taught him compassion and empathy, patience, friendship and love. He taught others how to pray and ways to live without dictating rigid rules or lifestyles. He brought people together to feel and believe as one. That helped to make him a great Leader. Someone worth following.
He led Mother Teresa to write the following:
“If you pray, you will have faith.
And if you have faith, you will love.
And if you love, you will serve.
And if you serve, you will have peace.”
Give us ideas based in truth that make rational sense. Model those ideas and call us to service to implement those ideas and we shall follow. Nothing satisfies a follower more than an able leader.