Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Leader You Know You Can Be

Rachel Zegler on the version of Snow White in Disney’s latest remake of a classic:

“She’s not going to be saved by the prince and she will not be dreaming about true love. She’s dreaming about becoming the leader that she knows she can be.”

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the leader of them all”? Meh. I wouldn’t have been lining up to see it in any case. If I spend another second in my entire life watching strong, independent women self-actualize onscreen, it will be several decades too much.

Princes and Big Government

Is there anything biblically wrong with women leading? (I mean, apart from in church meetings or in a marriage relationship, of course; scripture is abundantly clear on that.) Married or single (the latter seems overwhelmingly likely given the premises of the new movie), why can’t Snow White be a successful CEO, a Member of Parliament, an army general, a Prime Minister or a Superior Court judge?

In our world, she might, but she’s going to be fighting her own God-given nature (to help an existing mission rather than initiating her own) the entire way. Perhaps she will conquer her feminine disposition and triumph against all odds, especially since her competition will be other women and (mostly) weak men, of which there are millions these days, not to mention a system built on positive discrimination, designed to fast-track her to success at every level whether or not she merits it.

Who needs a prince to save you when you’ve got big government?

Leadership and Aspiration

But once Snow White breaks that mostly-imaginary glass ceiling, she’s going to have another problem. Male or female, nobody who dreams about becoming a leader is ever a good leader. Look at our political world. The people most desperate to seize and retain power are some of the least qualified, least pleasant human beings you will ever meet.

I am struggling to think of a single good leader in the Bible who ever sought leadership.

  • Joseph dreamed of leadership, but not in the sense Rachel Zegler is talking about. It was a literal dream sent by God, not his personal goal or aspiration. He never contrived to achieve his position in Egypt. That was all God. And he took his lumps along the way.
  • Moses wanted nothing to do with leading. His instincts to help his people had taken him in bad directions, and his forty years in the wilderness had humbled him.
  • When God called Gideon to lead his army, the story takes thirty verses to tell, mostly because Gideon was so scared of getting involved.
  • When Samuel anointed David king of Israel, he was out keeping the sheep. He was the least likely candidate in his entire family. Nobody had even thought to invite him to the sacrifice, let alone to meet the prophet Samuel.
  • The first chapter of Daniel is all about how the young prophet self-sabotaged himself into prominence by obeying God and his own conscience rather than worrying about self-advancement in Babylon.

None of these aspired to leadership because they thought they were suited to it. If anything, it was the very opposite. Anybody who “knows” she can be a successful leader has an unhealthy lack of awareness of both the size of the job and of her own limitations.

Ascending and Descending

But all these mostly-reluctant rulers made good leaders despite (or perhaps because of) a strong sense of their own shortcomings. They saw leadership as a God-given responsibility, even a burden, rather than the opportunity to exercise power or attract attention. On the other hand, Saul became addicted to leadership to the point that he would kill to retain it, and proved a disaster for Israel. He constantly made bad decisions that troubled both his family and his nation.

Satan dreamed about becoming the leader he knew he could be. He said in his heart, “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” There’s a dream of leadership for you, and we all know how that turned out.

The Lord Jesus said, “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” Then he modeled real leadership perfectly: he took the form of a servant and humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death. He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, which is to say he did not dream of becoming a leader. He saw authority as an incidental by-product of service and obedience as all-important. As a result, he is the greatest leader in human history. God has highly exalted him and given him the name above every name.

A Noble Task

Leadership is a task. A noble task, but a task all the same. The shepherd who loves the sheep and expends himself to care for them has the correct perspective on his job. It never occurs to him that he is self-actualizing or realizing his dreams. He is too occupied with the needs of others.

And Disney’s woke Snow White, originally scheduled for 2023, has been pushed back to 2025.

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