WHEN A LEADER—a teacher, a politician, a high-profile athlete, or other public figure—appears to fall from grace, and his or her story is splashed across the news, or talked about in the community, the public rush to judgment can be brutal. An expectation of honest leadership is reasonable of course. It's natural to want our leaders not only to champion high moral and ethical values, but also to uphold these values in their private lives to serve as examples for our children and us. But harsh public reaction perhaps points to a deeper, more basic human need: to respond more graciously when our leaders disappoint us.
As St. Paul recommended in his letter to the Christians at Galatia: "My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted" (Gal. 6:1, New Revised Standard Version).
When I was a child, my mom gave me an important piece of advice: "If you don't want everyone to know what you're doing, don't do it." This counsel encouraged me to examine within myself the rightness of an action before engaging in it—and to live up to my own highest sense of right. When faithfully followed, this practice can save one from self-deception, and thus, from the misguided practice of trying to hide one's private actions from others.
My mother's counsel caused me to find and to follow the most effective leader there is, or ever will be—the God-given, intuitive sense of right and wrong that lies within the consciousness of every human being. Each of us is, truly, the spiritual reflection of God, the source of all right thought and action. This is our true self, to which we have the inherent ability to be true.
When the scribes and the Pharisees demanded Jesus to order the stoning of a woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7). No stone was thrown. Each man was led to examine and to discipline his thought, and to abandon, at least in this instance, the hypocrisy that is so fatal to successful leadership.
Shakespeare said, "This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." The daily, lifetime task of being true to oneself becomes more doable in proportion as we learn, through Christ and Christian Science, that our true self really is God's spiritual, good reflection. With this model of our true identity before our thought, it is easier to engage in honest self-examination and correction. Sometimes (as I'm still learning) you stumble on this high road of spiritual integrity. However unpleasant it may seem, though, we can find the humility, courage, and ability to face whatever is unlike God in our human thought and character, discard it, and go forward—day by day.
It is a truism that when we are striving honestly to bring our own thoughts and actions in line with man's (everyone's) true, spiritual identity, we are more likely to feel compassion for others—and more equipped to be a healer.
Mary Baker Eddy's answer to the question "How should I undertake to demonstrate Christian Science in healing the sick?" applies as well to anyone who wishes to be a healing force for better leadership in society. In part she said, "Be honest, be true to thyself, and true to others; then it follows thou wilt be strong in God, the eternal good." Also, "The Science of healing is the Truth of healing. If one is untruthful, his mental state weighs against his healing power; and similar effects come from pride, envy, lust, and all fleshly vices" (Rudimental Divine Science, pp. 8, 9).
You and I can be truthful in the highest sense: We can learn of our real nature as God's reflection and be true to ourselves as such. It is God Himself who enables us to do so as we move forward in our lives.
FOLLOW THE MOST EFFECTIVE LEADER THERE IS—THE GOD-GIVEN, INTUITIVE SENSE OF RIGHT AND WRONG THAT LIES WITHIN THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF EVERY HUMAN BEING.
To listen to and follow the voice of your true self within is the surest way to provide honest leadership for humanity. It demonstrates that the highest standards are within the reach of every individual, to understand and to follow. It serves to silence the hypocritical rush to judgment—and to replace it with healing.
Contributing editor Barbara M. Vining is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science healing from Perrysburg. Ohio.
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