Five Faiths of Leadership


Faith, Hope, Love (Charity), but the greatest of these is Love. Three words in a single phrase  provide guidance and direction for the greatest intrinsic values relating to our daily purpose. While love is considered the most powerful, faith and hope are equally important aspects of our lives, and, as leaders, in our leadership of those with whom we work and lead. 

February 12, 2013 was the 40th Anniversary of the release of the Vietnam Prisoners of War (POW) from Hanoi Hilton. The leadership of Admiral James Stockdale, Arizona Senator John McCain, Texas Representative Sam Johnson, and others who were confined for as many as eight years during the war provides strong leadership lessons for all of to emulate.

 VN POW Release 

Many emails were spread around the Internet about Navy Flight Officer and POW Mike Christian, who had made a small flag resembling the American Flag.  One day the prison guards found the flag. Christian was severely beaten near death by the guards when they discovered the Flag. Thrown back into his cell to die, Christian wasted no time in making a second one because all Servicemen revere the Flag as a symbol of their patriotism and the mystic tie, i.e. faith, that binds men to nations. 

The event and article in the Washington Post brought back memories of  an Air Force pilot who had been held captive for several years, and was a guest speaker that I heard while attending the Air Force Senior NCO Academy. He spoke on the Five Faiths that gave the POWs strength during their captivity – Faith in God, Faith in Country, Faith in fellow POWs, Faith in Family, and Faith in themselves. They never let their faith become weakened with “hope” – they innately believed their faith would keep them inspired in captivity. 

These “invisible” beliefs of great leaders can easily be applied to leadership, especially Servant Leadership. My Leadership Bible: Leadership Principles from God’s Word (NIV Version) lists over 250 different verses on faith, which does not include other spelling variations of the word. Over 250 jewels of wisdom about faith in our daily lives, regardless of our station in life. 

Kenneth E. Hagin, writing in his HopeFaithPrayer Blog, give us some insights on the differences between Faith and Hope. Faith is about now, hope is always about the future. In 1650 Jeremy Taylor, writer of numerous devotional and theological works, tells us that St. Augustine describes them similarly. St. Augustine said, “Faith pertains to all things revealed…..but hope has for its object only things that are future, are good, and pertain to ourselves. The certainty of hope is less than the adherence of faith.” 

As leaders we don’t just hope that our leadership will positively affect others, we have faith in all aspects of our practices, the positive affects they will have on the outcome of others, and the effectiveness it delivers through their performance and productivity.  

Five Faiths of Leadership

1. Faith in God or Supreme Power.

Enthusiasm – the derivation of which means “the God within” – is a strong motivating force in personal leadership, especially as it pertains to projecting a positive attitude in your daily activities. Faith in a higher being contributes to our moral imperative to do the right thing, to serve others in a positive and humble nature. Immanuel Kant refers to this as following a holy or divine will based on the Natural or Moral Law. Accordingly he points out, following a holy or divine will insures that we are not swayed by personal desires to operate outside the moral law, or independently of morality.

Our conscience, that inner voice, quite possibly that divine will, reminds and compels us to follow the Moral Law in our leadership, insuring that our decisions are just and in the moral interest of those we lead. Faith in the purity of the Moral Law impels us to build our action on the Law. 

2. Faith in Country.

The POWs at the Hanoi Hilton believed that their Country would eventually gain their release from the prison camp. Equally so today, leaders believe in the leadership of the country acting in the best interest of the Nation as a whole, protecting them under the ideals, laws and policies of Federal and State Constitutions. We have faith that our leaders will act justly, with high moral character and integrity, and with the intent of doing what is right for the Citizenry.  

3. Faith in Others.

Leaders have faith that everyone in the organization will work toward the vision, mission and goals of the organization in a productive and forthright manner. Leadership believes that employees will hold each other accountable for their actions, to insure a high moral character that contributes to teamwork and efficiency. In their efforts to “Lead by Serving Others” (LBSO), leaders are faithful that the “Led” will follow suit and lead others in like manner. Leaders have faith in others support and contribution in the best interest of the team, their co-workers and the organization. 

4. Faith in Family.

Leaders know that leadership responsibility and exhibiting ethical leadership extends beyond the workplace, and that it is a 24/7 job. Likewise, family leadership requires each of the above Faiths discussed above. They faithfully believe that the family will be loyal and support their ideals of leadership, which family members believe is in their best interest. 

5. Faith in Self.

Honest faith, integrity-based belief builds your confidence that enables you to move forward knowing you are doing everything in your effort to turn your vision into a reality. Likewise, moralistic actions enforce the moral authority of leaders; a major leadership characteristic of Servant Leaders. Erich Fromm says, “Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others.” 

Leaders have a vision and each day work toward turning that vision into a reality – not with “hope that it will be achieved”; but with “faith” in which you intrinsically know deep down inside that you know something positive is happening because of your leadership.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.”  As the adage goes: “Keep the Faith.”

 I appreciate your comments.


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