Foundational Principles

I have felt for a while that I am to write more. I have even had an acquaintance challenge me out of the blue that: “I have a book in me that he wants to read.” With that in mind and knowing one only gets better at a task with time, I am setting out to write my thoughts down here.

Today I helped my daughter edit her capstone project for a civics course. She wrote a paper on what the ideal citizen should look in the USA. The history she looked back on was rich. I quickly did some of my own research after initially reading her paper. I came across George Washington’s farewell address that he made to a young nation. The thought of the United States without the leadership of Washington caused great concern. Despite his confidence that the country would survive without his leadership, Washington used the majority of the letter to offer advice as a “parting friend” on what he believed were the greatest threats to the nation.1

One of the most referenced parts of the letter is:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.

George Washington

The interesting thing is that I’ve been reading two books lately which seem to be circling around this thought of foundational principles. What principles make up the foundation that I stand on? That I have built my life upon? That I lead my family from? Better yet, what are the principles that will make up the foundation that my children stand on/live based on?

Leadership is difficult.

It feels as though you’re constantly attempting to look ahead and gauge which direction is best. What direction seems to be pointed at the most in history by men who are still greatly respected centuries or even millenia later can be summed up in the words of another leader giving his parting speech. In the book of Joshua from the Bible, Joshua gathered all of Israel together when he “was old and well advanced in years.” As he always did, he reminded the people of all that had been done for them.

Note: It seems to be the mark of a great leader that vision is always spoken from a place of remembering. This seems to be too deep for this quick note and I will have to expand upon this thought in a different post.

He then stated: “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

So, here is a man thousands of years ago stating he will choose to serve the Lord (Yahweh). You then have leaders throughout history making similar claims, including George Washington. It seems a strong fabric of society is made from individuals who choose to serve the living God and walk in His ways.

How does this play out in 2019? This is the question I think often on. I don’t quite know how to put it into words that make sense. I speak often to my children about three characteristics that I desire them to have: Integrity, Honor, and Humility. In Micah 6:8 the prophet wrote: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Action Statement

What principles are you living by? What seems to have been effective for you? What is your track record? When I am 80, I hope to look back and have a family that walks in peace, love, and laughter. As a close friend recently stated: “I want to be the same person in the midst of the storm that I am in the calm.”

  1. (Elkins, Stanley; McKitrick, Eric (1995). The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800. Oxford University Press. pp. 489–499. ISBN 978-0-19-509381-0.)

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