Wild pitch


How Will I Lead?

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.

Our essential question at Presbyterian School this year is, “How will I lead?” and the ways we talk to our children about the answers to this question have never been more important.  One of my favorite essays is Dr. Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.  Begun on the margins of a newspaper and then finished on a pad his attorneys left him, King’s Letter is a timeless commentary on power and leadership.  Some of my favorite lines appear above.  At PS we must read these lines from Dr. King as a challenge focused on what it means to be a leader in confusing and self-centered times. 

As resources all over the world reside in the hands of an ever-shrinking few, my generation especially is coming to grips with the reality that the paradigm of “leadership through strength” is something for a bygone era.  New research suggests that Machiavellian paradigms of power and leadership have less staying power than those focused on stirring others to make a positive difference in the world.  At PS we call this new “power paradigm” Servant Leadership.

Where are the examples of Servant Leadership in our world?  Don’t look to the sad and divisive campaign for President of the United States to see them, that’s for sure.  Therein lies all the evidence you need of the antithesis of leadership through service, leadership by advancing the good of others, leadership that embraces integrity, or leadership that builds bridges between opposing viewpoints or perspectives.  If the adult leaders we are offering our children can’t or won’t live out the answer to the question of what leadership really means, then how much more difficult will it be for our children to rise above the flawed answers shown them?

Since the training and lessons our students receive—or do not receive—during their years with us will have an impact on their character and their choices well beyond their time here, this year I invite you to join our own authentic conversations about what it means—what it REALLY means—to be a leader in our world today. 

We should be talking to our children openly about the dynamic and diverse society in which we live, but impressing upon them the responsibility that comes with living in such a society.  It is a responsibility rooted in respect for others’ differences—whether those differences come in the form of appearances, opinions, or backgrounds.  It is a responsibility rooted in educating ourselves about others’ ideas, cultures, or beliefs before making decisions or judgements about them.  It is a responsibility rooted in a faith that teaches us that all those who work together in the service of a forgiving God in order to create greater justice and love in the world... are equal to one another in His eyes.

In the end, our responsibility is to see this world as the poet Maya Angelou writes in The Human Family:

I note the obvious differences

in the human family.

Some of us are serious,

some thrive on comedy.


Some declare their lives are lived

as true profundity,

and others claim they really live

the real reality.


The variety of our skin tones

can confuse, bemuse, delight,

brown and pink and beige and purple,

tan and blue and white.


I've sailed upon the seven seas

and stopped in every land,

I've seen the wonders of the world

not yet one common man.


I know ten thousand women

called Jane and Mary Jane,

but I've not seen any two

who really were the same.


Mirror twins are different

although their features jibe,

and lovers think quite different thoughts

while lying side by side.


We love and lose in China,

we weep on England's moors,

and laugh and moan in Guinea,

and thrive on Spanish shores.


We seek success in Finland,

are born and die in Maine.

In minor ways we differ,

in major we're the same.


I note the obvious differences

between each sort and type,

but we are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.


We are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.


We are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.

Let’s take as our focus this year the “alikeness” that we all share as members of “The Human Family,” and then let’s propose to our children examples of leadership that acknowledge that we are, indeed, “tied in a single garment of destiny” whether our world’s leaders realize it or not.








Posted by Dr. Mark Carleton in 2016-17 on Tuesday September, 13, 2016 at 05:34PM


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