When Leaders have been Chosen, We Still have A Choice

Today, the nation of the Philippines takes time to select the next officials of the country. I say politicians and not leaders because not all officials are leaders. In the same way that not all bosses, managers, directors, pastors, parents, student presidents are leaders.

Leadership is not about a position. There’s a former undersecretary of the United States who once gave a speech on leadership. He shared about how he had lost all his incentives and all the influence when he stepped down from his role. No more flying first class, no more hospitality committees to drive him around, no one to carry his bag. “[It] was never meant for me at all. It was meant for the position I held.” said the former undersecretary.

On this day of selecting officials, I do ask us to focus on someone. No, I’m not going to talk about any one of the candidates. I’m a few days too late for that. What I do want us to focus on when it comes to leadership is ourselves.

“Be the change that you want to see in the world,” Gandhi once said. When the votes come in and the winners have been selected. All is pretty much written in stone. In the macro, we are at the mercies of whoever is chose. But that doesn’t me we have lost all agency.

Some of the officials chosen will be leaders, some will not. But our fate and success rely more heavily on our personal leadership. We can either be people who will wait for something good to happen or make something good happen.

Here are some thoughts to leave everyone for after the votes have been counted and winners announced.

You Have Agency

Many people today struggle with hopelessness mainly because they feel they are left with no choice. I admit I’ve had times where I felt like I was at a dead end. But if there’s something life has taught me it’s that we are never hopeless. We have agency. Meaning we have a choice.

When people won’t do things your way, you can still do things your way; When people don’t believe in you, you can still believe in yourself; When people won’t help you, you can help yourself. Ultimately the most powerful agent in our life is our will to act. You can do something about your future.

Choose to Serve

“Kiko, I know I can be successful on my own and I already am. But how about those who are helpless?” As far as I know, we all have the license to serve others as well. Only a fraction of our fulfilment comes from building something for ourselves. What completes the whole picture is getting fulfilment from serving others. You can help others in need.

The broken, the lonely, the hungry, the fatherless, the orphaned, the struggling. If there’s something the world will always have a surplus of is people who need help. And you don’t have to go far to help. Your office, campus or community will have someone in need. Serve them. You might only be able to help one, but that one act of service can go a long way.

God Is Sovereign

The Philippines is a Christian nation. We aren’t the cleanest. We aren’t the richest. But we are people who choose to dedicate ourselves to God. I won’t pretend that our politicians don’t do things that dishonour and malign the holiness of God. But God calls His people to call out His name, to humble themselves and seek His face.

Oh how much easier things would be if we had just politicians. But when all is said and done, our greatest leader- God Himself- is a just God. We may not understand why things are happening the way they are now. All those dead, all those forsaken, all those left destitute and deprived. But God knows all things and sees all things. And even if He won’t do things my way, I know His ways are better.

Patrick Mabilog, patrickmabilog.com