“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” asserted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. “This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We, as American citizens, have been given much. Yet it seems we’ve forgotten that these gifts did not come to us as a matter of our own doing. We did nothing to merit this “promissory note.” We simply inherited it by either birth or naturalization. It is a gift but not one given without much sacrifice.
We have been given much. We are heirs to life from our Creator. We are heirs to liberty from the sacrifices of our fellow Americans who came before us and continue to protect and preserve us today. And we are heirs to the pursuit of happiness by God’s design.
To whom much is given much is required.
What, we might ask, is required. A leader responds with a grateful heart. A leader responds by taking responsibility for his failures and successes. And a leader responds by making equal sacrifices of his own to ensure the opportunities he’s been given are made available to many others.
Napoleon Bonaparte was correct that a leader “is a dealer in hope,” but it’s the posture of a leader’s heart and hands that make the real difference. Our effectiveness is determined not by what we say but by what we do. Leaders are doers who never forget all that’s been done for them.