Last Saturday I watched a Texas A&M football game. The coach of the opposing team stormed up and down the sidelines berating the officials, screaming at his players and throwing tantrums like a petulant child. At one point, when his quarterback came off the field, he got right up into his face, stuck a finger into his chest and snarled at him with venom that I have seldom seen even in the sometimes violent game of football.
I guess my idea of leadership is just different than that. I believe that if a person needs to be reprimanded, it should be done in private. If a person needs to be praised, it should most often be done in public. Because I am known to err on a regular basis, I do not like public hangings.
Ezra Taft Benson once compared shepherds and sheepherders. He said that in biblical times, “The Palestinian shepherd was noted for his protection of his sheep. Unlike modern sheepherders, the shepherd always walked ahead of his flock. He led them. The shepherd knew each of the sheep and usually had a name for each. The sheep knew his voice and trusted him and would not follow a stranger. Thus, when called, the sheep would come to him.
“At night shepherds would bring their sheep to a corral called a sheepfold. High walls surrounded the sheepfold, and thorns were placed on top of these walls to prevent wild animals and thieves from climbing over.
Sometimes, however, a wild animal driven by hunger would leap over the walls into the midst of the sheep, frightening them. Such a situation separated the true shepherd—one who loved his sheep—from the hireling—one who worked only for pay and duty.
“The true shepherd was willing to give his life for the sheep. He would go in amongst the sheep and fight for their welfare. The hireling, on the other hand, valued his own personal safety above the sheep and would usually flee from the danger.” (Ensign Magazine, May 1983)
I wonder how much each of us is willing to fight for the safety and welfare of our fellow workers, family, friends or neighbors. Do we lift and edify or do we tear down, chastise and denigrate? The words of a popular hymn come to mind:
“Let us oft speak kind words to each other at home or where e’er we may be; like the warblings of birds on the heather, the tones will be welcome and free. They’ll gladden the heart that’s repining, give courage and hope from above. And where the dark clouds hide the shining, let in the bright sunlight of love.
“Like the sunbeams of morn on the mountains, the soul they awake to good cheer; like the murmur of cool, pleasant fountains, they fall in sweet cadences near. Let’s oft, then, in kindly toned voices, our mutual friendship renew, till heart meets with heart and rejoices in friendship that ever is true.
“Oh, the kind words we give shall in memory live and sunshine forever impart. Let us oft speak kind words to each other; kind words are sweet tones of the heart.” (Joseph L. Townsend, 1849-1942)
Such sentiments, to me, sure beat roaming the sidelines with hostility, anger, and invective. The world would be a better place, indeed, if we could school our feelings, and, in patience, treat each other with civility, empathy and understanding.