A Leadership Lesson From Days Gone By

I enjoy history. My areas of interest are the Civil War, military conflicts, and presidential history; including presidential speeches. Every speech that a president gives speaks to their individual style of leadership. Although presidents rarely write their own speeches, their passions and desires come through loud and clear. For example, President Reagan’s speech where he called for Russian president Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”, relates to us a passion for freedom and liberty for everyone. President Franklin Roosevelt’s speech after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in which he called December 7th, “a day that will live in infamy”, reveals a want to lead the nation through a tragic and costly attack on its shores. In another speech, President Roosevelt addressed the nation after the invasion of the Allied Forces at Normandy in June 1944. What is unique about this speech is that it is actually a prayer. Here it is:

My Fellow Americans:

Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt – June 6, 1944

 

Things sure have changed. I believe the time has passed where we will see a presidential speech like this one. I hope that I am wrong. We have heard past presidents, in times of struggle, disaster, mourning, and in times of war, say that we should as a nation pray. What we haven’t seen is a president leading the nation in prayer. This prayer was delivered by President Roosevelt in what he like to call “fireside chats”. Imagine sitting around the fireplace or in the living room as a family gathered around the radio. Imagine one of these families having a son in the military fighting overseas. Then, over the radio, the president takes time to offer a prayer on behalf of those serving and for the families at home waiting. How comforting would that be? Rather than just saying he had faith in God, he demonstrated it before the nation.

It is my prayer that we would see days like this again. I desire to see the leaders of our cities, states, and our nation exercise the faith they profess to have. President Roosevelt’s speech serves as notice to leaders today. The lesson: Never allow your position or status, or the fear of losing it, prevent you from exercising your moral convictions.

A New Decade

A new decade is upon us. It is difficult to believe that 2010 is already here. The past ten years have been difficult ones for our nation and world. These years have been marked by horrific terrorist attacks here and abroad, a war in two different countries, the decline of our economic system that has led to government intervention in corporate business, recession, and record unemployment. We have also see over the past ten years an increase the erosion of tolerance for the Christian faith, both from the inside and out. The past decade has brought increased physical persecution of believers around the world and a loss of jobs, homes, and property for simply naming the name of Christ. We have also seen mainline Christian denominations change their views of scripture to be more inclusive. This is the beginning of the slippery slope that can only lead to further questioning of the validity of our faith.

As we move into a new decade, we have challenges before us as 2010 begins. Our national government has the challenge before them to keep the American people safe. This is no small task. They are also challenged to bring stability and confidence back to our economic system. They are challenged to decrease unemployment and restore the world’s confidence and respect in the United States. They are also challenged to narrow the ever-widening gap between wealth and poverty. The New Testament church has a challenge before us as well. We are challenged to continue to sharing a life-changing gospel in the face of persecution, hate, indifference, and intolerance. We are challenged to do our part as the hands and feet of Christ to the poor, blind, homeless, sick, outcast, and hurting of this world. The ones Christ called the “least of these”. We are challenged to show God’s love, strengthen believers, and make a difference in a world where a difference is desperately needed.

I pray that in this new year you will be blessed beyond imagination and be drawn closer to the heart of God . I will be sharing my prayers for 2010 a little later. Let us remember the words of Christ as we being a new year, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt 6:33) 

 

FIFS : Psalm 127:1

Today, I want to resume what I like to call Friday Is For Scripture. Solomon wrote,

1. Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;  Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.

We are people who like to build. We like to see visible results from the works of our hands. This has been the case since the beginning of man. I believe, at times, man forgets who it is that allows us and grants us the strength, wisdom, and desire to build in the first place.

Today is the 8th anniversay of the terrorist attacks upon our country that forever changed us. The attacks  that took place by passenger plane in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in a  field in Pennsylvania will be forever imprinted in the fabric of America. Quickly after our thoughts turned to rebuilding.  As man set forth to rebuild, to see a visible result of his work, it appears that we have forgotten again who it that builds.

Solomon gave a statement to be remembered, ‘unless the Lord buids the house, they labor in vain who build it.’ There is no doubt that we need to surrender the rebuilding of this country to God himself. Our country needs the principles of integrity, love, and the clear sense of right and wrong that God’s Word offers. We can build all we want. We can give the appearance that everything is just right. However, if God himself doesn’t do the building, if we don’t allow His to guide, all human labor is futile.

It is my prayer that  we will hear Solomon’s words, ‘unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.’ and begin asking and begging God to watch over our cities, towns, schools, chruches, and our nation. On this anniversary day, remember. Remember our military. Remember our firefighters and EMTs. Remember that nothing takes God by surprise and He is still on the throne today.