I have figurines on my bookshelf in my office. I call the figurines but some call them action figures while others call them toys. They’re figurines–models if you will. I don’t play with them so they’re not toys either. But they’re standing there for a specific reason. They remind me about leadership.
Optimus Prime, Mace Windu and Yoda are all examples of leadership to me. All three are wise leaders who’s insight into life itself let alone people in general gives me what to aspire to.
All three have had to make the hard choices. All three have had to make sacrifices and ask others to do the same. Each one is also a warrior, seasoned but not hardened. They’ve allowed the battles in their lives to teach them, help them grow and learn rather than harden them and make them bitter. In fact, that is the very difference between the Jedi and the Sith, the Autobots and the Decepticons. One has allowed the battles of their lives grow them and make them wise while the other has allowed them to become bitter and angry about the battles they’ve fought.
Why, then, is it important to have these leaders? And anyway, wouldn’t one say that the greatest leader I should aspire to be like is Christ? Jesus is an amazing leader. He led the Twelve through a lot. He commanded them to follow him. He taught them. He showed them how to love, how to show his love to others. And, yes, he truly is the ultimate person to look to when one aspires to leadership.
But I’m also thinking of these three in particular. Why? They’re variants of the leadership you see in Jesus. Jesus was never hardened. He was almost killed a couple times before they finally crucified him. He stood his ground when he needed to. He rebuked when it was appropriate and he admonished and directed and praised when it was needed most.
Yoda teaching Luke is an example of this. Yoda, the wise teacher, worked with Luke in ways that were unconventional (carrying him on his back while running through the swamps of Dagobah or standing upside down lifting rocks with the force… so Rocky IV esque to say the least). But Jesus takes the cake when he demonstrated how to show love to others when he washed his disciples feet. Yoda might have been riding Luke, but Jesus took the role of a servant. Yoda taught, and that was good. Jesus showed.
Optimus Prime is the wisest of the leaders. He spoke in words of wisdom. He was calm under pressure but he also knew when to fight and when not to. In Luke 22:36-38 Jesus tells Peter and his disciples to carrying money and a sword. And if they don’t have a sword, get one. Why? Because there is a time to fight and there is a time to take a punch. Optimus knows that.
Jesus knew it and instructed his students the same. Of course, Peter being Peter didn’t know the right time and struck when he should have taken a punch (Luke 22:49-50). But still, Jesus used that moment of rashness to teach about what he truly was going to do. He could have fought, but instead he took the punch and went to where he needed to go.
Mace Windu is the tactical leader. He understood what people where thinking. He understood that Anakin was intelligent and could be the one prophesied about. He knew what to look for. He knew the difference between a sheep and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He knew what was a puppy that could grow up to be a wolf. He knew that Anakin would grow up to be a wolf. Yet he also was willing to give Anakin a try anyway, knowing that he could still be the one to bring balance to the force.
Jesus saw in Judas one who would betray him, yet he still called him to join him and follow him. He knew Judas would betray him yet he still invited him to the table for the first communion.
What I’ve been learning about leadership is that it isn’t about being one who leads the charge nor the one who pushes from behind. And not always the one in the middle of the mix. Instead, it is the leader walking with the group but along the side. The leader is the one who takes the time to shepherd the rest through tough times, through growing times, through the battles and through the times of peace. It is the leader who is the teacher, the wise one and the tactician who must see all the angles in making decisions.
The best leader is Jesus Christ, his wisdom supreme, the Word incarnate. He is the teacher, the one who instructs us by showing and doing as well as speaking. He is the tactician who helps us see all that is around us before moving forward.
And so, I will lead, aspiring to be Christ with the examples of Optimus, Yoda and Mace Windu.