In January, a transformational leader was sworn into office. Like the other great transformational presidents before him, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan, President Barak Obama is a great communicator. Life, like death, is intrinsically intertwined in our words. We get to choose, through our words, whether we are agents of life or of death.
After eight years of the Bush administration, our nation has presented itself to the world as an out-of-control militaristic superpower that is determined to do whatsoever it desires, no matter what other nations think. Consequently, we have forfeited the title of leader of the free world and now nations like France and others are jockeying for the title. If we are to once again be thought of as the “leader” there must be a great transformation in the mindset of our nation. We will need to end the wars, fix our financial institutions, balance our budgets, pay down our national debt, fix our entitlement programs, rebuild devastated cities, balance the trade imbalance, educate our children, retrain our adults and establish a just immigration policy. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our nation must be called to forsake its old ways as it pursues a new path. This call cannot be lost in its own noise. It must be clear and visionary. It must be forceful and determined. The call must place us on the offense; we must move forward and that forward movement must begin now. Becoming bogged down with the weight of the load is not an option. Our nation is blessed. When we needed a leader to step forward to guide us in difficult times, we were able to find one in Mr. Obama. I am sure he will make mistakes and not everything will be perfect, but I am also sure that after he has served this nation, we will be extremely happy with the progress made to restore it to its greatness and its ideals.
To transform a nation takes more than bricks and mortar, money and programs. To transform a nation, a well-thought out idea is essential. Effectively delivered, that idea can be deposited into each person’s spirit. Transformation is not an outside-to-inside movement. Transformation begins in our spirit and manifests itself in what we do and in what we become. Deposits into our spirit can be made only with words; through the power of the pen, or through the power of the tongue. Thus, to be a transformational leader you must master words. You must master their connotation and their imagery. The words and the vision they project must be free of misinterpretation.
The body of music called rap almost killed itself because the early rappers were not communicators. They chose words so filled with emotion and so open to multiple interpretations that not only was society in an uproar, other rappers were also. Rappers created their own war and began killing each other over nonsensical issues.
I wrote this blog in the early morning of inauguration day while in Washington anticipating with million of others a speech that will be remembered for generations to come. Words that have been committed to paper over the past couple of weeks, after much thought, will be spoken into the open ears of a nation that is ready for change. More than the individual actions taken over the next 100 days, it is this speech that will light the fire of this nation and the world. I know I am putting a great deal of pressure on President Obama‘s shoulders, but either you are transformational or you are not.
For all of you still doubting that words, written and spoken, bring about transformation, I offer this one defense. Any other candidate’s candidacy would have ended with the Rev. Wright interjection into the campaign. However, Mr. Obama was able to deliver a speech on race that refocused the nation on important issues and allowed us to dismiss the distraction.
Each of us can learn a lesson from pivotal episodes like this that affect each of our lives. If you want to bring life to a marriage, a family, a group or an activity, choose your words carefully. Be precise and insightful with your selection of words and with the delivery of the same. Guard yourself from injecting into your words feelings that you do not understand or, at that moment, control.
Remember, your same tongue can create life, or it can bring death. President Obama gives a nation that has been dying a reason to live as he breathes into it hope, change and an idea.
For more from Bishop T. Wesley Weeks, Sr. visit Transformednow.com