A pleasant morning,
I greet you all this morning conscious of the rich history of this National Leadership Prayer Breakfast, not only as a significant event in our national calendar, but also as an institution. We may question whether the objectives of this annual New Year event have always been consistently met. What is beyond doubt, however, is the continuing validity of the reason for its coming into being thirty-six years ago.
It was in the drive to heal a divided nation that leaders were invited to demonstrate their commitment and willingness to set an example of responsible conduct in public affairs, in business, in the church and indeed in all the institutions which make an impact on our collective future.
I believe that although we have matured as a people, particularly during the past two decades, we still need to take stock of ourselves and find the means and the will to advance our cohesiveness and sense of purpose today, in this our fifty fifth year as a nation. Our leaders therefore have a most important role to play in the healing and transformation of our nation, and I venture to say, ‘Now more than ever’.
In the last few weeks, we have been deeply disturbed by developments involving members of leadership within the church. Across the public statements, the commentary, and the media coverage, we find a range of expressions – anger, frustration, cynicism, disappointment and deep sorrow, reminding us that when anyone suffers we all suffer – whether as victim or perpetrator.
I ask of you fellow Jamaicans, not to allow emotions to overwhelm us, but to move us in the end to acknowledge that we all have to be agents of change for better. Righteous indignation is of little value without the accompanying commitment to “do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.” We must live out what we profess. This a time to seek for and obtain healing for ourselves and our nation.
As we reflect this morning we would do well to ponder “The Message of Leadership”. It is best summed up in the words of an ancient Eastern philosopher who said, “If you fail to honour your people, they will fail to honour you”. It is said of a great leader that when the work is done, the people will say, “We did this ourselves”. This profile of a leader may not appeal to all leaders, or to those who aspire to lead, but it is worth reflecting on if we are serious about transforming a nation.
It signals that the people themselves must be inspired, engaged and effective, in building their future. It also recognizes that leadership exists in every sphere of societal endeavors. So when we meet on an occasion such as this which brings together “national leaders” we must also be conscious of the many groups, organizations, communities, even family units which look to, and depend on their own leaders for guidance, help and examples to emulate.
Indeed, one unknown philosopher also made the telling point that, “A leader leads by example whether he or she intends it or not”. As those of us who were/are involved in the education sector will remind ourselves, much of what is learned is caught more than it is taught. Behaviours, principles, attitudes are consciously and unconsciously assimilated from those we see occupying leadership positions across our nation and those who provide direction in our daily lives.
So as I greet you all, I ask each and every person gathered here and others listening to the messages of the morning, to remember that at whatever level we lead, or in whatever sphere, as followers, as members of organizations, we need to be the best examples of all the good that we wish for our beloved nation.
We all need to aspire to and live out the vision of virtue which we place at the centre of our commitment to our communities, our country and our Creator.
May we never lose our belief in the power of prayer and always be mindful of our responsibility to love and serve one another.
We look forward to a morning of inspiration as we embark upon our journey together in this year of Jamaica 55.
God bless you all!