I greet you warmly, as we fellowship at this the 34th annual National Leadership Prayer Breakfast.  I am very thankful that I have this opportunity again to greet you.  I wish for each of you in this hall and indeed for all Jamaica, peace, joy and prosperity in our homes and in our nation in 2014.

Each of us gathered here or tuned in via the electronic media, believes in the importance of communication with God and we know that prayer is a powerful recipe for successful leadership.  We know that it is important to tap into God’s abundant resources:  for wisdom; His enabling for a life of integrity; His empowerment for excellence in our performance; His forgiveness for past failings and His blessings for present and future undertakings.

So, at the start of another new year we have taken the right step and the bold stance as leaders from every sphere of national life, to reflect on the year that has passed and focus on the prospects for the future. We have done so in this united approach through prayer and contemplation.  I therefore thank the Victoria Mutual Building Society for its ongoing commitment to this initiative. Your sponsorship, together with that of other corporate entities, affords leaders the invaluable opportunity to come together at the start of the year to affirm God’s leadership in our lives, in our organizations and over the affairs of the entire nation.

Please allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to commend the Chairman and members of the National Leadership Prayer Breakfast Committee for their dedication, for their diligence which have resulted in the establishment of this event on the national calendar.  Also to commend them for their choice of beneficiary for this year, we also believe that the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI), located in St. James, is worthy of our support

This year’s Leadership Prayer Breakfast theme: “Courageous Leadership for Challenging Times” is very powerful and thought provoking.  It prompts us to acknowledge that it takes an enormous amount of courage to lead because of the issues with which leaders have to contend.  They face opposition; they must bridge differences without compromising principle. They must deal with support wisely, and understand that Leaders invariably disturb people’s equilibrium, their loyalties and habits, and often leaders take persons out of their comfort  zone, evoking responses more based on anxious fears than on hard facts.

Let me also add that it takes courage to be a Christian leader when time-honoured, biblical principles are being questioned, ridiculed or even being attacked.

Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, at this critical juncture in our journey as a nation, Jamaica is looking to its leaders to take us confidently through the difficult conditions that we are experiencing.  For despite differing positions, we all want Jamaica to achieve its Vision 2030 goals.  Yet crime, and other social ills combined with our economic woes have plunged many individuals into despair and negativity.  As we see and hear our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers and children slaughtered every day, the wrenching cries of agony and despair rip through our hearts.  We cannot allow ourselves to be numbed to the cries of ‘Rachel weeping for her children and cannot be comforted’.  We must live in comfort and peace in Jamaica.

So it is very critical that we must now garner the collective will of all leaders in all spheres of life: starting with our religious leaders, civil leaders, political leaders, social leaders, business leaders, entertainment leaders so that we can collaborate in combating this pandemic.  Together, wherever we serve with a fixity of purpose and singleness of mind let us get together and  defeat this crime monster, and reassure our people that they themselves can be brave and courageous in the fight to combat crime, stamp out corruption and or other social ills.

We must believe in ourselves and our capacity to lead with dignity and by example.  And  let me hasten to say that I am not speaking of perfection, but one should not allow one’s weakness to prevent one from doing the job well.

According to leadership guru John C. Maxwell “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts as it is about one life influencing another”.  That ladies and gentlemen connotes leaders having a relationship with the people we lead, listening to them and talking to them.

But we also must believe in ourselves and our abilities to rise to the occasion and do our best.  You must never forget that if in the past good leadership was exercised, it can be accomplished again.  Remember Joshua’s imperative from God:  “as I was with Moses so will I be with you, only be strong and very courageous.”

I believe in a positive future for Jamaica. I continue to believe that God hears the prayer of our National Anthem and that even now, through activities such as this, the ground is being prepared for our accelerated development, for the suppression of crime and violence and for a peaceful orderly society.  I hope that all our Leaders share this belief so that our example, will inspire hope in our people to believe and transform the difficulties into opportunities for growth.

I hope that today’s National Leadership Prayer Breakfast will serve to break down walls of division and foster mutual respect, trust and a willingness to work together for the common good of our country.

May God bless us all and may God bless Jamaica, Land we love!

Thank you.