Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Leaders, Criticism, Respect, and Perspective

I am learning to speak respectfully of leaders. I am learning to understand that I don't know all the facts and behind-the-scenes political power plays in any social organization (government, churches, schools, etc.), circumstances, and counsel in a leader's decision. I am learning to withhold criticizing leaders publicly, but choose to think critically and be outspoken about issues and policy. I am learning that I rarely have the background perspective, insight, nor full picture to impugn leaders with motives for what they do. So often, quiet compromise must direct decisions, consensus, in matters at higher levels.  A leader perhaps may have been coerced, forced, or simply chosen to take a certain action to prevent another that was more bleak.

I served a year as an administrator at a local middle school. I learned in that year how prideful I'd been in years prior, as a teacher, in judging and criticizing leaders from my limited perspective foxhole or opinion fort. I rarely understood the full ramifications of a situation, yet spoke as if I was wiser. It makes me think of when a child criticizes a parent's parenting skills, as if they have the full view on life. Innocent arrogance.

I'm learning to hold back on negative comments towards a person in an electronic or published format, and practice speech and writing that honors the human dignity of leaders. Or I can simply remain quiet. Yet I still retain the right to disagree on decisions, and value accountability. I release my unrealistic demands on them to include me in every situation to help me completely understand motives and process, and I continue to practice patience. There is a fine line.

As a believer, I am accountable for my words regarding leaders and all people before the Lord. If I truly desire to honor Him and those created in His image, I feel strongly that speaking in a way that contributes to vilification of leaders, though their actions may be detestable, rips a hole in my theology that God is all-powerful and seeks to redeem and restore all humans and human systems.

I am reminded that I don't know everything, and often I don't know much. I can continue to learn, create conversations and inquiry, find friends that hold other views, and stick to tasks where I can influence change, without looking back with regret on things I said about people in print and in public. Is there anyone who doesn't realize there are at least two sides to every story? Why are we so quick to blast a leader as if he or she made the choice in isolation with our harm as the goal? That seems like naive small-minded thinking.

How do you speak of others when they make decisions you do not agree with?