In 1775 George Washington, in his formal acceptance of leadership the Continental Army, gave Congress a fair warning: “I beg it be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.” Only one year later, after a disheartening string of military defeats, Washington wrote candidly to a friend about the miseries of leadership: “Such is my situation that if I were to wish the bitterest curse to an enemy on this side of the grave, I should put him in my stead with my feelings.”
If leadership is such a strain, why bother?
“This is the will of God for me. I did not choose it. I sought to escape it. But it has come. Something else has come, too. A sense of certainty that God does not want me only for a preacher. He wants me also for a leader – a leader in Methodism.
I feel a commissioning to work under God for the revival of this branch of His Church – careless of my own reputation; indifferent to the comments of older and jealous men.
I am thirty-six. If I am to serve God in this way, I must no longer shrink from the task – but do it.
I have examined my heart for ambition. I am certain it is not there. I hate the criticism I shall evoke and the painful chatter of people. Obscurity, quiet browsing among books, and the service of simple people is my taste – but by the will of God, this is my task, God help me.
Bewildered and unbelieving, I hear the voice of God say to me: “I want to sound the note through you.” O God, did ever an apostle shrink from his task more? I dare not say “no” but, like Jonah, I would fain run away.”
Again, we must ask ourselves: If leadership is such a strain, why bother?
Quotes from David McCullough, 1776, and Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership.