Sometimes we think increased levels of volume or a certain way of acting is evidence of what is called “the anointing.” A true anointing is not of human origin or creation. It is not stagecraft. It is something the Spirit deposits in a life from the realm of eternity. On one hand, some define the anointing as a loud, chandelier-hanging expression of Pentecost and on the other hand, it is defined by a subdued voice and demeanor of a well-versed academic. Some of the most powerful anointings go unnoticed because they do not fit in either extreme category. We can miss seeing who is really anointed because we are searching for the wrong evidence of a true anointing.
I am reading a book titled, Lead Like Ike, written by Susan Eisenhower the granddaughter of General Dwight Eisenhower. In the book, she explores Eisenhower’s leadership during World War II in Europe. Of special interest was his early years as a young believer growing up in a close-knit family whose faith directed their lives.
At the conclusion of the war, Eisenhower made a point of visiting the concentration camps run by the Nazis. On one visit to the camp at Ordruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald, two other generals accompanied him, Bradley and Patton. The stench from the decomposing bodies piled like cordwood was overwhelming. The smell filled the camp and the nearby villages.
After touring the camp, Eisenhower sent a message to General Marshall. In it, he noted that General Patton would not enter the rooms where dead bodies were stacked. Patton the very boisterous, iconic image of a no-nonsense man of war, a man filled with high levels of expressed personal bravado, would not enter the rooms for fear he would get sick.
Eisenhower was a different kind of leader. He visited every room in the camps of horror so he could be a first-hand witness of the atrocities he saw in case someday anyone would be tempted to deny such atrocities took place. His experience in the camps would indelibly imprint him for the rest of his life.
As I read the pages describing how Eisenhower led, I noticed a lack of personal bravado. Bravado is defined as “a show of boldness intended to impress or intimidate.” I did read about a quiet and reflective man who was outraged by what he saw. He played no favorites. He also played no games regarding his persona. He was willing to walk through the gruesome evidence of the worst of humanity’s cruelty and come out the other side still able to make sound decisions apart from any expression of personal bravado, pride, or an uninformed opinion about the realities of life.
If you are looking for sound leadership, whether in the Church or in our social institutions, look for those with a quiet yet insightful demeanor, not those who promote their leadership like a loud, garrish carnival hawker. The latter will fail to walk with you into places of emotional and spiritual death because their bravado will not provide them with the kind of courage required to do what is right when their presence is needed most.