I've never aspired to be a leader. I learned that in elementary school, when my parents and teacher were talking about "leadership qualities" and I thought, "Doesn't sound like fun to me." I don't mean I necessarily like to be a follower—mostly I like to do my own thing (child of the '60s) and other people can come along, or not, as they wish.
But a man at our church, who died not long ago, is making me rethink the idea of leadership. I barely knew him, but our choir sang for his funeral, and what I learned about him then made me wish I had found a way to cultivate his friendship.
He was accomplished enough for 10 people. He graduated in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from Princeton. He was a marine, serving in World War II and Korea. He followed that up by working for the CIA, earning the highest possible award for valor. For three years he endured Communist prison camp in Cuba. His civilian life achievements and community activities are too numerous to mention.
And they played bagpipes at his funeral.
Most amazing of all for someone so distinguished, everyone who knew him remarked about his humility. Churches talk a lot about "servant leadership" but apparently this man actually embodied it. He was, indeed, a "humble servant."
The other thing said about him was that people did things the way he thought they ought to be done. He was humble, he was gentle, he was soft-spoken—but you didn't cross him. Somehow, he induced people to see things his way without pushing them around, without exerting his power—which is real power, indeed.
What might the world be like with more leaders like that?