Our country has had many great leaders but only one who is called the father of our nation. We could write about the many character traits that made George Washington a great leader, but today I’ve picked an unlikely one, that is leadership by empathy. This is arguably the most Christ-like character trait of leadership.
“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone.” – George Washington
What many Americans don’t realize is that Washington, like many of our founding fathers, was a devout Christian who believed in the God of the Bible and was well read in the scriptures. We can see that influence in the words of our founders, in their writings and in the very Declaration of Independence and Constitution which they wrote.
In the New Testament we see a couple of verses from Paul exhorting the Church to be empathetic, that is to feel what others feel, and to share in what others may be experiencing.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15 NKJV
In the book of 2 Corinthians Paul explains the purpose of tribulation and affliction: it is so we can then feel for, and comfort others in their tribulations.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV
The ultimate though, as usual, is Jesus Christ.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 King James Version
So mourn with those who are mourning, rejoice with th0se who are rejoicing, and empathize with those around you. It will make you a better friend, brother, sister, husband, wife, father, son, mother, daughter and on and on. And if you find that duty calls to place you in a position of leadership, then let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone you have leadership over. This is what it means to be a saint of God, and George Washington knew this well.