Our tradition tends to be allergic to authority. Our name, Unitarian Universalism, comes from two heresies: the idea that God is one, not a trinity and the idea that everyone is saved and there is no hell. Though we are no longer Christian, we have retained the cultural DNA of being set against leadership.
Movies are anti-leadership as well. Lately, only the anti-hero is praised. The maverick, the one who bucked all the rules, the one who spoke when no one else did. Leadership is not seen as a virtue to cultivate, but as a role to avoid. We were all against ‘the man’ at one point in our cultural history, and it’s not fun to become ‘the man’ even as we grow older and are more responsible for how society operates these days.
However, a spiritually mature view of leadership views it with more nuance than one person who calls the shots. Instead, it can be the act of holding space to allow transformation to happen. To take a chance on something that could benefit everyone. To empower others to make their decisions.
All of these actions and many more are moments of leadership, accessible to anyone. In your family, in your knitting group, in your congregation, at your school. This leadership is spiritually fulfilling, whether you accomplish your intended goals or not.
In the latest Avengers movie, Infinity War, Thor, the god of thunder and ruler of Asgard, is asked why he keeps trying to save the universe. His dad just died, his mother and brother were murdered, his hammer had crumbled, his planet was destroyed, and the refugee ship with his people was blown up leaving him as the apparent sole survivor. And Thor answers that he is still alive, so the fates must wish for him to keep fighting. And he moves onto the next step of crafting a new weapon that can bring down the bad guy. He seems to be the only hero that remains optimistic about the battle. Being 1,500 years old, he tends to have a long view of the universe.
You are alive, and you are meant to keep going on. What will be your leadership?