There’s a scene in the Two Cathedrals episode of the West Wing where we see the first interactions of Mrs. Landingham and a young Jed Bartlet. In the scene, they’re discussing equal pay for women, a taboo topic for the time period, and she’s challenging Jed to challenge his father. Over Jed’s broken down car Mrs. Landingham says:
Look at you. You’re a boy king. You’re a foot smarter than the smartest kids in the class. You’re blessed with inspiration. You must know this by now, you must have sensed it. Look, if you think we’re wrong, if you think Mr. Hopkins should honestly get paid more than Mrs. Chadwick, then I respect that. But if you think we’re right, and you won’t speak up ’cause you can’t be bothered, then, God, Jed, I don’t even want to know you.
That scene says so much about the world today.
It’s easy to profess what you believe, particularly on social media, by sharing pictures, typing ‘Amen’ or what have you. The difficulty comes in those times when it’s time to walk the walk.
In times of crisis, people look for those who dare to lead. Now, I know some of my opinions aren’t popular. Life isn’t a popularity contest. It’s about being true to who you are and what you believe.
Doing what you believe is hard when times are easy, and crushingly difficult when times are hard. I get that. The question you have to ask yourself is… ….can you live with betraying your principles?
How will those who look to you as a leader view you once the dust settles? Will they see someone who stood for what they believed because it was right even if they don’t agree with you? Or will they see someone who sat on the sidelines because speaking up is hard?
If you’re not willing to speak up when events challenge the beliefs you profess then “God, Jed, I don’t want to know ya”.
Mrs. Landingham Wants You To Be Congruent
A professor at Fuller Theological once said “Good theology works itself out in shoe leather”. What he meant was that it’s easy to profess your belief, but until you put it into action, it’s worthless. Being congruent, meaning what you say and what you do match, is missing from a good portion of society. We’ve become an ‘ends justify the means’ world where if we do it it’s ok, but it’s not if the ‘other guys’ do. It also means that there a plenty of people who profess to believe certain things, but their actions say different.
My challenge to you is this. Work on being congruent. When there are opportunities to ‘put your money where your mouth is’, do it. If you see something that troubles you, that goes against everything you believe, say something or do something about it.
In short, lead.
Be the solution to the problems you see. Step up and take action. Speak out and let your voice be heard.
It may not always be popular and you may incur the wrath of some of those who follow you. That’s ok. Life’s not about being popular. It’s about being true to who you are.
And in the end, you’ll attract your tribe by being congruent and leading by your example.