4 Spiritual Lessons from Lincoln

Brian Eno
Director of Next Generation Ministries
Oregon Ministries Network

During Christmas break I read the book Killing Lincoln, by Bill O’Reilly. I enjoy reading, but I don’t normally read novels, biographies or fiction. I usually read nonfiction, leadership or spiritual growth type books. This year, I thought I would stretch myself and try something different; the stretching was good. Killing Lincoln is a quick read, with short chapters, allowing you to feeling like you are moving quickly through the story. This is my style of book. O’Reilly picks up Lincoln’s story about three weeks before his assassination and carries it through to the death of his murderer, John Wilkes Booth.

What caught my attention was that the book is full of leaders. Some good, some bad and some just plain evil; three leaders that stuck out to me were Lincoln, Grant and Lee. Lincoln was an extraordinary leader. It’s no wonder why he is one of America’s most popular Presidents. Lincoln was a great leader because he led with many Christ-like characteristics. Here are four Christ-like leadership traits I noticed right away.
1.    Faithful. Lincoln faithfully read the Bible daily. He was faithful to his fragile wife, Mary, who was healing from the loss of two children. He was faithful to his vision.

2.    Focused. After reading Killing Lincoln it was obvious that Lincoln was focused on two goals as the President: ending slavery, because all men are created equal by God, and preserving the union of this great United States.

3.    Merciful. As the Civil War was ending, many were shouting for war trails and retribution on the south. Lincoln’s only request for accepting the South’s surrender was that they lay down their guns and go home.

4.    Courageous. Lincoln did not fear death. He often said, “If I am killed I can die but once but to live in constant dread is to die over and over again.

Faithful, focused, merciful and courageous; these are the leadership qualities that made him a legendary US President. We seem to live in a time now when most leaders are absent of these types of characteristics. This world needs leaders like Lincoln. We as the spiritual leaders of this Next Generation must lead faithfully, focused, mercifully and courageously.

More lessons on Lincoln….

Prior to the Civil War Grant was looked as a military failure; while Lee was seen as a military success. Lee would have been viewed as the superior commander.

Grant’s war strategy was more of a modern style for the day. Grant would fight alongside his men, he would command from the middle. Lee on the other hand was more of a traditionalist. He would command his troops from a distance. Much like the English did during the Revolutionary War.
Grant was sloppy in his appearance. The only other time Grant ever encountered Lee was during the Mexican American War when Lee reprimanded Grant, a Lieutenant at the time, for coming into his presence not properly dressed. Lee was a military statesman; he was always dressed proper for the occasion. On the day Lee surrendered to Grant, Lee took the time to change into a fresh clean general’s uniform and bring along a ceremonial sword to submit to Grant. On the other hand, Grant arrived wearing a private’s uniform, that he had sowed general’s bars to and had been wearing for many days.

As you can see, these two leaders were the complete opposites. Lee was a prideful leader while Grant was much more humble in his leadership. The way I see it is Lee started out tall but ended up small. Grant started out small and ended up tall. Following the war we know very little about Lee’s life, but Grant went on to be a two-term US President.

Proverbs 29:23 says, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.”

Humility in leadership is very important. If we will lead humbly, we will be positioning ourselves to allow God to bring us honor in our leadership.

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