Thursday, October 21, 2010

One of the Costs of Real Leadership Is Being Misunderstood and Misperceived

By all accounts President Abraham Lincoln was a Christian man full of mercy and compassion. Several anecdotes from his life reveal a genuine love for his fellow man, even his enemies, including the ability to forgive and pardon those who personally wronged him. The United States Department of War complained of an increased lack of discipline within the ranks because troops knew that President Lincoln often pardoned soldiers who deserted the army. Lincoln spent the last week of his life granting hundreds of pardons to both Confederates and Union soldiers, sparing many from a death sentence.

However, Lincoln could also be tough as steel. Word reached President Lincoln that the Confederate States of America had issued orders that any black Union soldier captured in Confederate Territory was to be executed instead of taken as a prisoner.  The Confederates were furious with the January 1, 1863 implementation of Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation" and the resultant recruitment and deployment of black soldiers within the Union army. Upon hearing of the CSA's orders to execute black prisoners of war, President Lincoln issued his July 1863 "Order of Retaliation" which stated in part:

"The government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in our possession.

It is therefore ordered that for every [Black] soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed; and for everyone enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war."

It seems to me that principles of justice demand that when people full of grace are faced with the prospect of the weak and defenseless being unjustly harmed, the only appropriate response is an "eye for eye" approach to the abuser. That kind of tactic is not easy. It requires both moral discipline and strong leadership. In addition, when people don't know their leader personally, as was the case with most regarding President Lincoln, they will often base their opinions of the leader on his public writings alone. This would have led to a false impression. But being misunderstood is one of the costs of leadership. Those who lead should know this. It is also a sign of weak leadership when one is constantly trying to correct false perceptions of himself (or herself).

I consider President Lincoln one of the best leaders our nation has ever seen.


Bob Cleveland said...

Is there any indication of the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of his tactic in this case?

Rex Ray said...

You said, “Being misunderstood is one of the cost of leadership...It is also a sign of weak leadership when one is constantly trying to correct false perceptions of himself (or herself).”

I’d add to that: ‘It is also a sign of thin skin’.

I wondered the reason you added “(or herself)”, if because of resent discussions? :)

Rex Ray said...

Ah – Amazing!
My comments have not been accepted in two days. I could read, copy, and print them after they’d been posted, but when I ‘left’ and come ‘back’, they’d be gone.

I’ll try again were I’ll be on topic.

Roshelle said...

It truly is a luxury to be understood by others. Leadership is definitely a lonely place to be most days. Most in the following cannot remove the person from the position for everyday life, and therefore never really get to know the leader personally. Followers, for my lack of a better work, let how the leader leads (stances taken, decisions made, rules enforced, etc) affect how they interact with the leader outside the leader's area of leadership. Depending on how they feel about the leader depends on how followers treat the leader and in smaller rural areas it can get very tiresome for leaders. When all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed and any apologies are made that are due, the leader's job is finished. Running around promoting his/her image or doing damage control is wasted time and energy.

Thanks for the insight on President Lincoln... just another reason to honor his leadership.

Lydia said...

How strange. I am right now re-reading Steven Oatess' bio of Lincoln and just read this part last night. '

Frankly, "perception management" and amassing power is now the main focus of most leaders. But, most do not realize that is not leadership at all.

Scott said...

And he might have been gay! said...


No comments are deleted. Blogger has instituted a "spam" filter, and often catches comments as "spam." It requires me to enter the filter and manually release comments caught.

Blogger must consider your comments "spam."

I don't. :)

John Fariss said...

War has a tendency to bring about extremes that its leaders (or at least some of them) do not intend. Besides the instance you cite, there is the Fort Pillow massacre, in which black Union soldiers were killed after surrendering to Confederate troops under Nathan Beford Forrest (who, as we know, later founded the KKK). And then there were the orders of one commandant of the POW Camp in Chicago that any black wearing a Confederate uniform was to be shot on sight, and at least one captured "camp servant" was so killed. But you are right: it take a steel backbone to overcome and rise above such things.


Rex Ray said...

I don’t understand this “Spam thing’. Will it remove comments after they have been accepted? After two days of failure, I’m on a roll of success, but today on my fourth comment (it was to Lewis) I got the usual message of something like: “You have unsaved (I forgot), do you wish to leave…?” The comment didn’t show up, but after a while it did., and it’s still there!

My previous comment had worked great that said:

October 22, 2010
Off topic
How do comments ‘disappear’?
How did my comment to John H disappear? It was there because his comment is still there replying to me in saying: “Rex Ray—not sure about IMB, but am aware of their total abstinence policy… Thu Oct 21, 08:53: AM 2010
My comment of October 20, 2010 said:

“Chris Riley,
You said, “I don’t think Lumpkins “high view” has been allowed in the SBC.”
Seems like I remember the SBC addressing that issue in some way, but I know the IMB stopped all board members from any social or otherwise drinking. Wade was upset with their decision but went by their rule as long as he was a board member. Maybe he had a toast the day he resigned?
If I’m wrong about any of that would someone please correct me?

Dr Who, You said, “Don’t agree with them…and you’re on their hit list, blacklist, ignore list,…They will come after you.”

Hey! That sounds like Jim Richards (SBTC Executive Director, Vice-president SBC) saying, “Those who depart theologically will be identified and called to repent.”

I’m glad the law protects us from being identified like Henry II did by branding Paulicians (Baptists) on their foreheads and no one was allowed to help them. They perished from cold and hunger. (Trail of Blood)

I know I’ve said that many times on Wade’s blog, but it still applies.”



I can't explain how Blogger's spam works. All I can tell you that if you comment does not appear, it is in "Spam" - not deleted.

Since I only come to the comment section periodically, I can only release your comments from "Spam" when I find them -- sometimes hours or days after they are written.

Anonymous said...

Gee, wade, what's up with acting like you have better things to do than babysit the comment section of your blog! :P said...


Lydia said...

And he might have been gay!

Fri Oct 22, 09:37:00 AM 2010

If that is the case, then so were most men of that era who could write and traveled.

Most male to male friendship letters of that era sound strange to us because they speak of love for one another, missing each other, etc. Most men slept together in one bed when traveling.

Stephen said...

For all of the respect and Christian love that I have for Wade, I cannot understand the obsession many evangelicals have with Lincoln as a great Christian leader. He was one of several politicians, including Jefferson Davis, who were either unwilling or unable to continue the American tradition of compromise. Instead, he and others chose war over peace and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. The phrase "What would Jesus do?" comes to mind. Are the actions of Lincoln et al those of the Prince of Peace?

I prefer the model of Robert E. Lee who resigned his commission in the U. S. Army when it became obvious to him that he would be forced to fight against his native Virginia. He was opposed to secession and only accepted a role in the Confederate Army when he felt obliged to defend his country. After the war, he refused to take money to write his memoirs, saying "I should (would) be trading on the blood of my men." He took the position of president of Washington College where his stated goal was to produce good Christian citizens. He also eschewed politics and advocated a peaceful reunion of the United States. Lee - a true Christian leader.

Lydia said...

" prefer the model of Robert E. Lee who resigned his commission in the U. S. Army when it became obvious to him that he would be forced to fight against his native Virginia".

Ahh, the war of Northern Agression!

Lee was not forced to fight. He could have refused both sides if it was so immoral. If you are going to ask what would Jesus do, are you claiming He would do what Lee did?

Also, Lee never freed his own 200 something slaves, either. They had to be "emanicpated" from that great Christian man. How many slaves did Lincoln own?

He was also the first president to greet a black man in the White House as a guest of a reception instead of a worker: Frederick Douglass.

As for my position on Lincoln, he made a TON of mistakes! Aren't we all so clever in hindsight? I probably would have fired McClellan much earlier. And I would have accepted Chase' first resignation letter, too. Not to mention, I would have sent a special "no credit" guard with Mary when she went shopping.:o)

Christiane said...

I think that the way men expressed their affection for other men was more emotional in those days of the Civil War. Definitely. And I don't think it can be seen as a sign that they might be 'gay' at all.

My own family has the Civil War letters from my great-uncle Gib, McGilbray Ausbon, that are so moving to read, very humble, and so filled with such a goodness, that I feel a real connection to my great-uncle through his letters, such was the sincere way of his communicating.
People just don't write like that to one another these days anymore.

I found a posting of the announcement of Gib's death, and I will share it here with you all:

From the 10 Mar 1899 issue of the Roanoke Beacon
"Editor Beacon: Please allow me space in your columns for a few lines to the memory of my dear brother, McG. AUSBON, who departed this life at the Soldiers’ Home, near Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 1st, 1899."

“Precious is the sight of the Lord are the death of his saints.” Yes, precious are His jewels, called home to fill a high and holy destiny with that ever living Hand. We feel to hope he now rests in the sweet paradise of God, where sorry and afflictions are known no more, and peace and love will reign for ever more. I was with this dear brother most of the time in his useful part of life. We were together through the war between the North and South up to the time he received a wound and was taken to the hospital, and he was ever brave and true to go where duty called. I was with him in the battle at Bermuda Hundreds, where the enemy was driven from their intrenchments; he advanced over their works, gathering up overcoats and throwing over the breastwork. Again, I was by his side in the great battle at Cold Harbor, and again in front of Petersburg, where he received a wound. He ever seemed to have a spirit of true devotion to his country in time of war, and in time of peace no change could ever lead him away from true democracy. There are yet living witnesses that what I have written is true, our dear old Captain S.L. JOHNSTON is yet alive. May we all meet in peace beyond this vale. — T.E. AUSBON, Palmyra, N.C."

The old letters testify that these people did live, and suffer, and yes, loved one another and cared for one another deeply.
I don't think they were at all ashamed of their Christian faith because they had no need to be afraid to express that loving-kindness.

I guess they would not be found acceptable in our strange new world, where 'loving-kindness' is seen as a weakness, and another darker way of treating people has become 'acceptable' by extremist-fundamentalist Christians.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen said...

Lydia, I thought this post was about great leaders, not slavery. If one gauges the Christianity of either Lee or Lincoln based on slavery or racial attitudes, Lincoln like Lee will fall woefully short. Lincoln, to his credit, embraced a superior ideology than Lee and he hated slavery. For that he should be praised. His racial attitudes, however, were those of the times. It is a bad practice to judge the past by present standards. If we do that the picture of Lincoln is not very flattering regarding his views of African Americans.

Stephen said...

Lydia, Read the account of when Lincoln hosted Douglass in the White House.

Bill said...

I'm not looking to start a fight, but I have read quite a bit about Lincoln's faith that suggests that while he was deeply spiritual and devoted to the scriptures, that he was not a professing Christian in the sense that we use the word. To me, that doesn't diminish all that he accomplished, but it is a possibility. said...


One of our members whom I respect a great deal, Jeff Rogers, holds to the same opinion as you.

We just disagree on the matter.

I would refer you to this website for one of the basis of my views on Lincoln.

Sarah said...

at the risk of getting off topic, or maybe a round-about way of getting back on topic, I really appreciated historian Steven J. Keillor's exploration of Lincoln's leadership as well as the nation's road to civil war in his book "God's Judgements - Interpreting History and the Christian Faith" (pub. 2007 by IVP Academic). Keillor looks at the wide swath of American history, up through and including 9/11, with a trained historian's eye and a biblical lens. Three chapters are devoted to the Civil War. I'm not an expert, but it really made me think. He has an older book, "This Rebellious House: American History and the Truth of Christianity" (1996 InterVarsity Press) which I haven't read that apparently deals with the Civil War in more detail.

Anyone familiar w/either of these books?

Lydia said...

Lydia, Read the account of when Lincoln hosted Douglass in the White House.

Fri Oct 22, 02:24:00 PM 2010

I have read several accounts. Douglass was there twice, btw. The second time was the reception.

Lincoln's view of emancipation was political at first. His view of colonelization evolved over time and especially after Willie died.

Lydia said...

For that he should be praised. His racial attitudes, however, were those of the times. It is a bad practice to judge the past by present standards. If we do that the picture of Lincoln is not very flattering regarding his views of African Americans.

Fri Oct 22, 02:23:00 PM 2010

Then if we are to go with a "man of his time" position, then Lincoln was pretty radical as his tenure progressed...compared to the leaders of the South. Who were also men of their time? Including the educated pastors preaching virtue of slavery as a Christian principle?

I do not always buy the 'man of his time arguments' from history when it comes to things of Christ. Which is why I admire the nobody AnaBaptists who were drowned by the Reformers for Biblical truth more than I do Calvin. How is it they could interpret the Word better than he could on serious issues such as infant baptism?

Not So Perfectly Me said...

Of course Lincoln fell short of a great 'Christian/Godly' did Bush (just sayin because so many think he is God Himself) and many Solomon, David, Moses, Abraham, Paul, I am sure the 12 and others has their own ways they did not 'measure up.'

Christiane said...

This is a good read:

Anonymous said...

There is a new controversy about black soldiers in the Civil War. A textbook for fourth graders in Virginia is teaching that THOUSANDS of blacks fought for the Confederacy.

The author claims to have used 'internet sources' to get this information. The information is being challenged by historians and is also being reported widely as an example of 'racist revisionism'.

Darrell said...

Great Post Wade,

I love this line: It is also a sign of weak leadership when one is constantly trying to correct false perceptions of himself (or herself).

I consider President Lincoln one of the best leaders our nation has ever seen.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln was a great leader, for sure. His impact on the U.S. cannot be overstated. His writing ability was unbelievable.

He was not perfect, and he was a political egomaniac in some ways.

I am glad 150 years hence that he did what he did, and that the nascent Republican party was successful.

I do not agree with the idea that one should do to their opponents whatever they do to you. In war, one should do whatever is necessary to win, and no more. In peace, the administration of justice is not based on what the abuser has done. The abuser should be stopped and punished, but it really doesn't seem wise to make the punishment of the abuser the same act. It might be. It might not be. There are lots of issues related to wisdom here that I would want to consider. The Christian ethic should also be considered in the formulation.

I would re-state the entire premise that whenever dealing with wrongdoing, one should fight as fair and as hard as one can fight, to whatever length and on whatever course one needs to take that will be effective in stoping and preventing abuse.

I do agree strongly with the idea that good leaders lead, and that good leaders do not get all tied up in explaining themselves.

The best leaders, however, find a way to hear the criticism and adjust where appropriate without giving the appearance of being wishy-washy or being too concerned about what others may think.

This is a thought provoking post.


Not So Perfectly Me said...

Anon@ 6:06...makes sense as I hear such arguments of "the slaves did not have it so bad" type arguments more and more. Why not have them defending/fighting with the south in a war?

Don'tcha just love revisionist history? We have had it wrong all this time! slavery was all sunshine and roses..families were not ripped apart, slaves were not worked to death or beaten and feed crap food to eat! Their masters LOVED them!!11!!


Steve said...

I go back and forth deciding which is more admirable, Washington or Lincoln. However, I must say Honest Abe had the tougher time to serve as President, and probably the better hair. It has to be said, he must have been born in one glorious state!

Meahwhile, Ohio had eight men, all extremely ordinary.

Greetings from Hoptown, Ky.

Lydia said...

" It has to be said, he must have been born in one glorious state!"

Talk about the Capitol building of Kentucky stand 2 statues of homeboys in the Rotunda: Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

Lydia said...

You know Wade, Lincoln surrounded himself with former enemies and quite a few who disagreed with him on his Cabinet. Some were more radical republican about ending slavery and some were democrats who did not have much of a problem with slavery.

He did this on purpose for several reasons.

His leadership..even his competence was constantly being challenged from all sides.

And he did worry about perception...especially with his re-election to a 2nd term. His Cabinet/Senate confrontation of Chase was done because of perception problems. But he humilated Chase, accepted his resignation and then made him a Supreme!

He was clever because he had tons of common sense but his reluctance to fire scardy cat generals probably cost us a lot of men's lives on both sides.

Christiane said...


John Fariss said...

IF I recall correctly from college history, slaves in the South indeed did produce, and even over-produced crops during the war with less supervision than before it and without a hint of a slave rebellion, though that is hardly the same as fighting. Some number of officers brought a slave or slaves into the service as personal servants, commonly having them uniformed, but again this was not a combat role. There was a considerable movement about mid-war to arm the slaves, with the proviso that any so fighting would be freed. It languished until finally Robert E. Lee came out in favor of it. The final bill, as passed by the Confederate congress, mentioned nothing about freedom, but this was assumed. However, it came too late. The first few companies were organized in the Richmond area, armed with only pikes (a lot of Confederate soldiers had little better by that time), and were formed just as Lee abandoned the Petersburg defenses, so they never saw any combat. I have never been able to learn if they retreated with Lee or remained in Richmond. Further south, there was a call for slave owners to bring a percentage (I do not recall what it was) of their slaves to gathering places for induction in the army, but the date was, I believe May 1, 1865, by which time Lee had surrendered and Johnston and Taylor were not far behind.


Stephen said...

Wade, I went to the web site. It was all about Lincoln!!!! Okay, he got saved. Praise God!! The writer obvioulsy is as enamored with Lincoln to the point of almost deifying him!! Time and space do not alllow my response about the Second Inaugural Address. I have already written about that. If anyone wants to read it, I will send it.

Lydia and others,
I guess what matters to me the most - and it is really somewhat out of context with Wade's post - is that Lee sought to bring others to Christ. I don't know that Lincoln did that.


Stephen said...


Slaves left the plantations by the thousands. They really began the emancipation process before Lincoln jumped on the bandwagon. Yes, some slaves remained loyal to their owners, but that number was relatively small. The Confederate States government, despite the claim of states' rights, was a most repressive government - impressing slaves and imposing taxes. Lincoln, for all of his political genius, took a gamble that no Southern state would lay down arms when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Had they done that, slavery would have remained status-quo antebellum.

The overlooked heroes of the Civil War were the slaves who actively sought freedom, left the plantations, and agitated for Lincoln to do something. The war began as a war for Southern independence, but the slaves made it a war for liberation.

Stephen said...

BTW, "thousands" of blacks DID NOT fight for the Confederacy. Some remained loyal to their masters, accompanied him to war, and occassionally shot at the Lincolnites. But, no black was ever officially in the army. John gives good insight on the movement to arm the slaves. I believe the The internet site that pushes the "slaves fighting for the Confederacy" is the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I know that group quite well. I was a member, but got out when they got off course and started getting political. Plus they are very bad historians!!

Anonymous said...

" Lincoln, for all of his political genius, took a gamble that no Southern state would lay down arms when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Had they done that, slavery would have remained status-quo antebellum."

Why would they lay down arms when it did not even cover the border states because they never declared secession. Also exempted was newly formed W.Va and Tenn which was in Union control. It only freed slaves in the secession states!

It just made them angrier. If they had laid down their arms, their slaves would still be considered freed according to the EP even though the border states could have slavery!

This is why it was necessary to have the 13th Amendment.

John Fariss said...


You said, "Slaves left the plantations by the thousands. They really began the emancipation process before Lincoln jumped on the bandwagon."

I agree completely. I only was making the point of the lack of a slave uprising, and that production continued on plantations, at least those in those under Confederate control. I would never argue that African-Americans, in any numbers, actually fought for the Confederacy, only that there was some effort in the South, born of desperation and the misguided notion that slaves were more satisfied as Confederate slaves than northern freedmen. That there was not a massive uprising of the slaves has always mystified me, and I give thanks ther was not, for the devasting effects it would have had.


Anonymous said...

Yes, the injustice of slavery took a big hit due to the resolve and convictions of President Lincoln and praise God for that!

It’s easy now to jump on the righteous coattails of those martyrs like him who gave their lives for their convictions.

It’s easy now to demonize the slave owners. But those white slave owners would not have defined themselves as racists and wicked. They were products of their culture and that strongly influenced their worldview and moral perspectives. We can learn a lot by honestly reflecting upon this aspect of our southern heritage.

Most of us who are old enough to remember what it was like to be raised in the culture of the deep south during the 1950s and 1960s can relate to the mind set of those white slave owners. We can recall how politically correct and socially acceptable it was to oppose equal rights for black Americans.

Even Southern Baptist pastors in the 1950s and 1960s were advocates for segregation, keeping the races apart and elevating the white race above the black. It was done with clear conscious and based upon their Biblical perspectives!

Perhaps our recognizing the power of cultural influences and heritage will equip us to be more aware of today’s social influences.

Racism still exists among our ranks. It’s no coincidence that our Southern Baptist Convention churches are still 99.9% white. Some churches are beginning to be open to the presence of “color” and even have token amounts of non-white involvement.

My impression is that non-whites are accepted more with the attitude that “they’re welcome to join us” and not “let’s go get them for Jesus”! In spite of our righteous rhetoric we’re still not “inclusive”.

Racism is also a key factor that plays in the intense opposition to President Obama and that is evident in our churches as well.

I can’t imagine a black visitor in a Southern Baptist church feeling comfortable with the casual conversation that goes on prior to the adult Sunday School class beginning.

We can contend all day long that the intensity of our opposition is driven by President Obama’s strong socialist agenda but in reality his agenda is no different than Lyndon Johnson’s, Ted or Bobby Kennedy’s, Hillary Clinton’s and many other white politicians. Those white liberal politicians were opposed by some but not demonized to the level we have inflicted upon President Obama.

I stand condemned and ashamed as having been a sinful racist but praise God for His grace and mercy and for His paying for my racist sins on the Cross. I can only hope to sincerely ask for Him to transform me to see things through His eyes and try to live this day with love for all colors.

Lydia said...

"It’s easy now to demonize the slave owners. But those white slave owners would not have defined themselves as racists and wicked. They were products of their culture and that strongly influenced their worldview and moral perspectives. We can learn a lot by honestly reflecting upon this aspect of our southern heritage."

The Southern Newspapers were always showing cartoons depicting "amalgamation" that would result from freeing slaves.

What is interesting about that hypocrisy is that of the 4000- something mulatto's in the US then, over 3000 were in the South and were slaves.

There was already "amalgamating" going on...many times forced. Of course, to the Southern plantation owner and his crew, that was different and totally acceptable kind of amalgamation.

Just men of their time, I guess.

Stephen said...

John, Exactly. The question of slave uprising is debated aming historians. They just did not have the werewithal to do so, having been subjected to oppressive controls.

Anonymous, If Georgia had repealed her ordinance of secession between September 1862 and January 1863, the status of slavery would be unchanged in that state.

It is interesting to see the dynamics of emancipation during the Civil War.

One parting note about Lincoln / Lee - I guess that I am just sensitive about Lincoln because I have to teach against the myths about him. Not so much Lee because he has been PCed out of alot of mainstream history.

Also, as a Christian I am disappointed to see so much of American civil religion being accepted as Christianity. The myth of Lincoln is part of this.

Lydia said...

Also, as a Christian I am disappointed to see so much of American civil religion being accepted as Christianity. The myth of Lincoln is part of this.

Sat Oct 23, 10:53:00 AM 2010

How on earth can we seperate how we live with claiming we are Christians? The South had a faux Christian culture. I grew up on every corner.

How could so many who professed Christ not only own other people but proclaim that as righteous?

Many in the South during that time claimed that the slaves liked slavery and were treated well. Lincoln commented that he did not see them seeking to be slaves since it was such a good thing.

It is not unlike Germany after WW2 where no one was an actual Nazi. All of a sudden, all the real Nazi's were gone and they were just following orders. Both Germany and the South had to be leveled to defeat.

Did no one in the South, including pastors, ever read the book of Philemon?

It was really more a question of pride...not wanting to admit a way of life was sinful and wrong. That is not civil religion.

Anonymous said...

was there a connection:
the faux Christianity
and the rise of fundamentalism, focused on non-essential 'markers' of who 'was' a Christian?

P M Prescott said...

How many signs did Moses have showing the Children of Israel he had God's favor, and still they mummered against him even making a golden calf at the base of Mt. Sinai and having to wander for 40 years because they didn't trust God and Moses to conquer Canaan.
The Bible has many examples of God's appointed leader (don't forget Deborah) being second guessed and revolted against.
This is always the down side to leadership.

Sarah said...

a friend of mine picked up an old book that was a collection of political cartoons about Lincoln published from prior to his presidency through the early twentieth century. If anyone denies the viciousness of the attacks against him, often including really vile racism, they should look some of these up.

To my understanding, any true "born-again" faith on Lincoln's part is at best uncertain. However, notions of Biblical righteousness and justice seem to have increasingly occupied his thoughts and decisions. Even if it turns out that he didn't have a true saving faith in Christ it wouldn't be the first time a thoughtful non-Christian's moral judgement put that of orthodox Christians to shame.

Lee is also in many ways rightly held forth as a noble and even godly leader and is also subject to mythologizing idealism. His virtues ultimately don't change the fact that his considerable gifts were ultimately given to defend the evils of slavery and racism any more than Lincoln's failures and complexities negate the good he defended. Both men exemplify leadership in many ways; both illustrate the dangers. One thing that strikes me in my (admittedly limited) understanding of Lincoln is that he continued to struggle and grow and was acutely aware of his responsibility for the cost of his decisions and influence, that his authority was a trust rather than a right.

I think that leadership in general and Christian leadership in particular isn't necessarily about decision making skills or raw intellectual or political ability though these may come into play. Biblical leadership is about exemplifying those things that God calls all of us to, and love and humility have to be at the core. I think Lincoln exhibited and developed those traits.