You Cannot Give, What You Do Not Have. Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   
Leadership is the greatest gift you can pass along to another generation. So why then is it so rare to find quality leaders in our current self-centered society?  I have been around either the military or law enforcement my whole life. I was born into a Marine Corps family and raised in JROTC and Scouting, until I was old enought to enlist in the Marines myself in 1963 at 17 years of age.
Even my entry into God's all volunteer army (the church) was via a para-military youth group called Christian Service Brigade. Throughout my six plus decades, I have observed and worked for and with many great leaders. I have also had the opportunity to suffer under the tutilage of many self-proclaimed leaders who displayed a total lack of character and whose "moral compass" had obviously never been boxed. The leaders I found most effective were the ones who wore the cloak of leadership humbly and often somewhat warily, if not even reluctantly.

If you want to learn something about folks trying to teach what they have not learned, then click on "Read More"  and find out why you cannot give what you do not have.

There is a war against evil that rages daily in each of our lives.

"Nemo dat quod non habet"

You cannot give what you do not have.

A Christian leader, especially those who are called to military and law enforcement service, will face many challenges in his or her quest for spiritual and professional excellence, not the least of which will be the inevitable "personal, ethical, and moral dilemmas" that confront each of us on a daily basis. Outwardly at least, most good leaders appear to focus on their personnel, on their unit, and upon their mission.

However, some self-proclaimed modern day Christian leaders find it all too easy to rationalize all their actions, and in light of this they therefore conclude that a person can somehow differentiate between their private and public lives. Some people in positions of great power believe that they can publicly espouse high moral ethical standards while secretly embracing their own hidden agenda of completely different private values. These folks are the ones who coined the phrase, "Do as I say and not as I do." This, however, has never been a satisfactory or noteworthy premise where leadership is concerned.

Biblically speaking these people are the "wolves in sheep's clothing", "false prophets" and those who will be crying out to Our Lord at judgment that they did so much for Him in His name only to hear Him say, "I never knew you." Remember always that just like self-righteous service is different from selfless service, self-serving leadership is easily detected when compared to self-sacrificing leadership.

Self-sacrificing leadership, which is a true principle of Christian excellence, flourishes when constructed on a foundation of moral integrity but ceases to exist in the presence of double standards.

Any leader's moral fitness and his or her qualification to lead will continuously be judged by those over whom they exercise their authority, and the productivity of those efforts will always be linked directly to the continuous reassessment of that perceived fitness.

Therefore, a leader must always display and espouse only the highest standards of conduct, both publicly and privately and endeavor to set an unmistakable and clear-cut "what you see, is what you get" example. He or she must first strengthen their own character, and then work to develop a like character in their subordinates. A leader must, in fact, expose and examine their own soul before they can ever hope to touch the souls of those whom they serve.

There is a deep, yet subtle, truth in the Latin expression, "Nemo dat quod non habet," which translates as "You cannot give what you do not have". The question, therefore, is how does a leader obtain that which he is obliged to pass along?

The mantle of leadership often weighs heavy on the shoulders of those who choose to accept to wear it, and the challenges that accompany it are often enormous. While we sometimes tend to minimize the effort required, neither secular nor Christian leadership is easy work. It demands absolute dedication, a focused effort, and most importantly, a great deal of moral courage and a strong and bold character. Leaders from both venues, especially those in the military and law enforcement arenas, must understand that the profession of arms is an altogether unique endeavor, truely a "calling" and, in many ways, a spiritual undertaking.

They must recognize the true nature of the enterprise, acknowledge the spiritual dimension of their service, and understand the motives and expectations of their subordinates. Warriors from both professional environments are generally distinguished by their deep conviction and sense of duty, and by their confidence in the integrity of the organizations to which they belong.

The best military units and law enforcement agencies are united by common beliefs, shared values, and a resilient faith in one another, in their unit, their leader, and above all in God. You see, Faith is a powerful phenomenon that has sustained warriors throughout the ages. In order to successfully command, a leader must capitalize on that faith, in its many manifestations, including their subordinates' faith in their commander's character and moral fitness to lead.

Christian Leadership is, like secular leadership, a contract. A strong, though sometimes tenuous, agreement between the leader and those he leads that must be jealously safeguarded. Although it may be politically incorrect to discuss moral courage and moral authority, it nevertheless remains the true bedrock of leadership and remains the key to its preservation.

Subordinates may be supervised, directed, managed, cajoled or compelled by nearly anyone in a position of authority, but they will follow those whom they respect, those in whom they have confidence, those in whom they have trust and, ultimately, those in whom they have faith, right down to, God forbid, "the gates of hell." As Christian leaders we never want to see that happen, but the sentiment of that statement is clear, the loyalty embodied in the leader-subordinate relationship runs both ways.

Leadership is the hard currency of both the military and law enforcement and it relies upon that unquestioned faith. Should that faith ever be violated, a leader's opportunity to lead is forever forfeited.

The path to effective leadership and professional excellence is long and fraught with peril. It begins for each of us with the simple act of looking into a mirror. Honest self-appraisal coupled with a genuine commitment to self-improvement, personal accountability and unyielding standards of conduct is the first and most important step to moral fitness and, ultimately, to effective leadership. I have studied my own reflection often and although I sometimes attempt to ignore my shortcomings, necessity eventually forces me to acknowledge them.

Over the more than 33 military years and 38 law enforcement years I have experienced, I have managed to strengthen my character by relying on the greatest strength and inspiration I know of, my faith in God. I honestly believe that the Lord has worked mightily in my life and that He has guided me through many of my toughest challenges in life. I know He is responsible for any success I've enjoyed. In peacetime and in the hostile environment of mortal combat, I have frequently leaned on my faith in difficult and fearful times, and I have always found sustenance and comfort there. My experience has convinced me that a strong spiritual faith, faith in God, must become the solid foundation of an individual's character if they are to experience success.

A leader must ceaselessly demonstrate the highest standards of conduct and, ideally, personify the values that define his or her organization, they must also ensure that those same values are passed along to and instilled in their subordinates. The leader must endeavor to cultivate for them both a spiritual appreciation and confidence in the integrity of their unit or agency.

I was in the Marine Corps for many years and we have a long standing tradition of instilling in every Marine a profound appreciation of our cherished "core values." These fundamental virtues of "honor, courage, and commitment" define our ethos and form a solid foundation for the lifelong growth of character and moral fitness. They are not just an advertising or recruiting slogan nor are they just words to tattoo on your arm. They are the backbone of the small unit leadership of America's most loyal defenders. Men and women who believe in "God, Country and Corps" above all else.

As a Christian and a military or law enforcement professional, you and I have become first, maybe by default and then, hopefully, by design leaders. We must never forget that professional excellence is, in a large part, personal excellence. Therefore, we must lay plans that permit the growth of character within our subordinates in whatever organization we represent. Perhaps even more importantly, in our leadership role we must carefully nurture our own character.

In my newly acquired role as a "pistol-packin' padre", (The way some of the officers on my agency refer to me) I have an added responsibility to live the sermons and advice I so freely provide.

I must remain ever mindful that it is God who sustains our character and what He ultimately provides us, we are obliged to give to others. Simply put, we must touch our souls and then the souls of our comrades, and we must always remember:

"Nemo dat quod non habet",


"we cannot give what we do not have"

What will your gift to the next generation be?

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