Leading up to Independence Day – July 4, 2010 – which will be the 234th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – I’ll be sharing with you some thoughts on the leadership of three of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.
A word of caution: it has been vogue in the last couple of years to point out the anti-Christian nature of the Founding Fathers. Many contend that the Founding Fathers were, at best, Deists, and most certainly not Christians. The only proof given for these statements – from what I could find in my research – has been opinions and writings from the early 20th Century onward.
I’ll be using the words of the Founding Fathers themselves to show how their faith in Jesus Christ shaped their lives and leadership.
Samuel Adams was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and, in the new United States, one of the first governors of the State of Massachusetts. In addition to being one of the Founding Fathers, he was also called, by the Boston newspaper Independent Chronicle, the "Father of the American Revolution."
Today, most people associate the name “Samuel Adams” with beer. This is unfortunate for two reasons. One, Samuel Adams worked briefly as a maltster (preparing malt for the making of beer) and not a brewer, and two, because it overlooks his contribution to the founding of the United States and what we can learn today from this patriot and Christian man.
1. Rely on Jesus Christ for Forgiveness
“I . . . [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.” [From the Last Will & Testament of Samuel Adams, attested December 29, 1790; see also Samuel Adams, Life & Public Services of Samuel Adams, William V. Wells, editor (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1865), Vol. III, p. 379, Last Will and Testament of Samuel Adams.]
The forgiveness of sins won for the world by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (His “merits”) is the epitome of liberty. And Samuel Adams was very interested in liberty - pledging his “life, fortune and sacred honor” for the cause of liberty in 1776.
Samuel Adams reliance on Jesus Christ was life-long, in both good times and in bad times. A leader needs to know what it takes to live in adversity and prosperity. I think it is a vital part of the definition of leadership to have gone through both extremes – although the “extremes” can be different for everyone.
Getting through those times requires reliance on something greater than us, something that transcends but is also a vital part of the human experience.
The forgiveness of sins is just that. Samuel Adams went through a lot – as did all the people who would eventually become American Citizens. But it is clear from one of the last things that Samuel Adams said (through his last will and testament) that the forgiveness of sins won by Jesus Christ was his rock and foundation for all that he said and did.
2. A Leader Also Needs a Leader
“The name of the Lord (says the Scripture) is a strong tower; thither the righteous flee and are safe [Proverbs 18:10]. Let us secure His favor and He will lead us through the journey of this life and at length receive us to a better.” [Letters of Delegates to Congress: August 16, 1776-December 31, 1776, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1979), Vol. 5, pp. 669-670, Samuel Adams to Elizabeth Adams on December 26, 1776.]
Samuel Adams was instrumental in the founding of the United States of America. But he also recognized that no leader is above following another leader. Who would the Founding Fathers tend to follow as their leader? For Samuel Adams it was God. He would follow God’s will for his life and also rely on the rock-solid foundation of God’s mercy to shape and form his life.
For a husband and father, the Biblical mandate is that he is the “head of the household.” But as a husband he is called to “love his wife as Christ loves the Church.” This is the concept primus inter pares – “first among equals/peers.” But for the husband and father, there is a superior authority that he will follow – God.
3. “Thy Kingdom Come” is a Good Leadership Prayer
“I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the world . . . that the confusions that are and have been among the nations may be overruled by the promoting and speedily bringing in the holy and happy period when the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be everywhere established, and the people willingly bow to the scepter of Him who is the Prince of Peace.” [From a Fast Day Proclamation issued by Governor Samuel Adams, Massachusetts, March 20, 1797, in our possession; see also Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908), Vol. IV, p. 407, from his proclamation of March 20, 1797.]
When people say that the United States is a Christian nation, I will only agree with that sentiment if they mean what Samuel Adams says here. It isn’t a political kingdom that Samuel Adams was looking for, but one of grace, the Kingdom of Grace of which Christ is the King.
A Christian leader will follow Christ and serve in His Kingdom. He will pray “The kingdom come” – which means he will lead others with an eye towards the truth that “the kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also. God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity” (Small Catechism, Martin Luther).
© 2010 True Men Ministries, Inc.