Judge Frank J. Williams is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the state of Rhode Island. I have come to know him though his leadership of the Abraham Lincoln Forum. Judge Williams is not only a brilliant jurist but a devoted Lincoln scholar. He moderates various sessions at the annual symposium in Gettysburg and did so again last week (November 16-18).
Judge Williams is a man who is filled with enthusiasm for people and life. His sense of humor, apt words at important moments, and brilliant mind are all noticeable to the interested observer. When he introduced historian Jay Winik (author of the award winning book, April 1865) last Friday evening the judge spoke about the need for political courage and how this was demonstrated in April 1865 by Abraham Lincoln, as well as several others. Judge Williams noted four distinct marks that are present where you find real political courage in action:
1. A leader will be firm in their beliefs despite criticism.
2. A leader knows their own mind.
3. A leader is obsessed with character and issues related to their character.
4. A leader is most alive when in the midst of a real struggle.
When I wrote down those four marks I reflected, since Friday, on how important each one is in terms of true leadership, regardless of the context. All Christian leaders could learn a great deal from reflecting upon each of these marks further. And those who follow should ask, "Are these qualites present in the one who leads me/us?"