For you, freedom might include:
- Living in a location of your choice.
- Ability to speak your mind.
- Choosing your profession, or changing it.
- Attending your church of choice, worshiping God, and practicing your faith without fear.
- Making a difference with your vote.
- Learning about topics that are of interest to you.
- Raising a family, the way you deem best.
- Freely traveling around the country and connecting with others of your choosing.
As a differentiating value, Freedom means the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints. You know it when you have it – and when you don’t.
Do we recognize when such restraints appear? Often the first sign is outward conflict, indicating a power struggle. How do we respond?
When conflicts threaten the freedom of our families, our communities, or our country, we rely on the help of others to protect it. These are times we appreciate great leadership.
Rightfully, we honor those who fight to protect our freedoms, our way of life. We remember those who gave – and still give – their life to preserve ours.
It is also right to acknowledge the role of great leaders.
The Role of a Great Leader
A great leader is always out front, not hiding in the back. Such a leader sets goals and direction, monitors the movement, and decides when and what changes are needed to achieve the goals. They are always mindful of the needs and concerns of their followers.
And a great leader understands the need for sacrifice.
John Maxwell makes an important observation about sacrifice in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. He states that Leaders are often asked to give up more than others. This is the Law of Sacrifice.
As a leader’s responsibilities increase, their personal rights – and freedoms – decrease. The more responsibility one accepts, the fewer personal options one can expect.
But when it comes to the value of freedom, all leaders have a choice.
The Leader’s Choice
As a leader, you have two choices about the value of freedom:
- Preserve your own freedom, and not take on additional leadership responsibilities.
- Give up your own freedom to help preserve freedom for others.
Great leaders know they cannot have it both ways.
James Bonham knew this while fighting Mexican troops at the Alamo during the Texas Revolution (1836). When he was sent as a courier to obtain aid and reinforcements, he was told no assistance was available. So what did he do? He returned to the Alamo through enemy lines to join his comrades in the final bloody battle.
Martin Luther King Jr. knew this when he fought for the advancement of civil rights in America, ultimately sacrificing his life (1968) for the freedom of African Americans.
Mother Teresa knew this when she sacrificed all personal care and comforts and dedicated her life to minister to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying – across 123 countries.
Nelson Mandela knew this while he remained in prison for 27 years, for his role as a militant anti-apartheid activist. Only four years after his release he became president of South Africa in a first ever fully representative democratic election (1994).
A key to making the tougher choice is being able to name the restraint that stands in the way of freedom. All of the great leaders listed above could name the external restraints they faced.
So, if you truly value freedom, make the choice to give yours up for others. And clearly name the externally imposed restraint.
What other leaders have embraced the value of freedom in helping others?
How can the value of freedom help you develop your differentiation?
Today’s value was selected from the “Freedom-Prosperity” category, based on the e-book Developing Your Differentiating Value.