Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lent Day 14: Thankful for sound leadership

The queen began her Diamond Jubilee tour to a warm welcome. "Her lifetime of service to others is truly an inspiration," said her grandson Harry, off dancing and banqueting in Jamaica. The Old Testament shows exactly the influence good and bad leadership has on a nation. When the king sought God, the nation prospered. When he was godless, the people suffered.

This year Queen Elizabeth II and her family celebrate her 60 years of rule over the Commonwealth. This tiny woman receives enthusiastic welcomes wherever she goes. No one has to drum up crowds or force supporters to line up or parade their support; she has gracefully persevered as political power has been stripped from the monarchy. (I watched the flutter of Obama's helicopter touchdown at the university with amusement: we are naturally star-struck by those over us, no matter how republican we claim to be or who our sovereign or representative is.)

"What's the purpose of the monarchy," some wonder. "Do away with her and her children. They cost money and do nothing."

I disagree. We need role models and heroines. Watching Elizabeth II––decidedly German in her 60-year devotion to duty––I am inspired. From the time she was young she has behaved well, something that can be said of few other rulers, men or women.

Good leadership manifests itself by steadying a nation, looking out for the good of others. A great leader accepts due honor with humility and thrift rather than pride and extravagance. Queen Elizabeth has not denied herself fashion or horses or castle maintenance. But she does not flaunt her power. Always in the public eye, she's been steadfast in a changing world, amid political turmoil and the tumult of raising children and watching them make difficult adult decisions. Her dignity in treating others with respect provides a model for commoners and royals alike.

As a teen, watching her Silver (25) Jubilee, I wondered if she would stay the course. Would she still be as nice and focused on service? Apparently so. Elizabeth forged her character by attending countless openings, not yawning or groaning at endless award ceremonies, unveiling thousands of plaques, and lending visibility to worthwhile causes. She's traveled the globe––in more comfort than you and I do, mind you––as an ambassador of peace and faithfulness, a symbol of good rule and goodwill.

Elizabeth II is not like us. She regulates her life strictly by appointments. Her homes are opulent beyond our imagination. I've visited several palaces and marveled that such things exists on earth and wondered at the surpassing beauty of heaven. However, she eats sparsely and exercises to stay in shape. She and her husband have saved the monarchy for her grandchildren by their frugal lifestyle and sound advice.

Recently, I watched footage of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It reminded me that royalty may have perks but it demands conformity and courtesy that would kill most of us. Elizabeth II has survived years great and horrible––family breakups and scandals, fires and thefts, travel schedules that would put most of us under the table in our prime, never mind when we're 70 and 80!

She says her faith in God guides her and sustains her in her duty to her country and her family. She won't notice this small tribute but I salute her and hope I can be a role model for people who know me as she has been for us.

God bless the Queen. And may He inspire decency, modesty, and service to God and country among the leadership here, too.

Read more:
*Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see." Psalm 36:6–9

*Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:2-6 NIV

Today's Prayer: Our Lord and King, preserve and protect those who rule over us. Though we constantly want to control our lives, we recognize that you place us under authority. Give us peace and grace to submit to and support those you have placed in government. We pray for the American elections ahead and ask that you would bless kings, queens, and princes with your wisdom for the good of their people and the expansion of your Kingdom. Amen.

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