By ROSE L. PITOI
“A young woman shares her thoughts on Leadership and the Easter story.”
A MAN was driving down the road with his wife in the off-side seat, and his mother-in-law at the back. Both women couldn’t leave him alone. His mum-in-law would say, “You’re driving too fast”, while his wife would call out, “too much to the left”! The man would adjust his driving to suit the wishes of his two advisors. Very soon, however, he had enough. It seems he couldn’t please either of them. After she blurted out her next driving advice, the man turned to his wife and angrily asked: “Look, who is driving this car? Is it you …… or your mother?”
The problem in that car was the problem of leadership…indecisive leadership.
Every nation, church, business, or family rises and falls on leadership. Good leadership blesses; bad leadership destroys. The need today is not more technology. The need is more good leadership. There is a leadership crisis in the world today.
In history, we have seen many good and bad leaders come and go. For example, there were people like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin who led people – but killed millions in the process. Then others like Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela arose. They too led powerfully, yet through passive and peaceful means.
Women have also led nations. I admire the 4th and only female Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir. This “Iron Lady of Israeli Politics” led her country to victory in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Many called Golda, “the strong-willed straight-talking grandmother of the Jewish people”! Meanwhile, the other “Iron Lady”, Margaret Thatcher, was the longest serving and first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In 1982, she went to war against Argentina to reclaim the Falkland Islands – and won! These were strong women leaders indeed!
PNG has also seen many good leaders. Among many fine female leaders, one pioneer woman stands out – Dame Mary Kekedo. Dame Mary was an educationist who broke new ground in the field of education in the early years. Years later, that leadership mantle was passed on to her two daughters, Rose and Jean Kekedo, who became leaders in PNG’s bureaucracy. I salute these trend-setting PNG women leaders and thank God for the standard they have set for many in our generation to follow.
The leader in our forefathers’ days was the “big man”. He was a warrior who protected and provided for his tribe. Women were for his pleasure and part of his property, as were the pigs! The “Big Man” won the respect of his people.
Today, the “big man” mentality is still alive. Nothing much has changed. Sadly, the ‘big man’, in many cases today, is highly educated, holds a high position, runs a business, has lots of money and girlfriends. His protesting wife can endure violence, so she suffers silently. He is the big man… the leader … the boss! As long as he has built houses for all his women, his promiscuous lifestyle is accepted by the community. Truly, man’s values and standards differ greatly from God’s (Isaiah 55:9).
So, with general elections happening in a short time, what should we look for? What style of leadership is good for us in PNG? Is it the person flashing lots of cash and throwing beer parties for everyone? Is it more women MPs?
I believe, regardless of whether it’s male or female, we should check for integrity. Reputation is what are in public; integrity is moral soundness in private. A man or woman of integrity lives what he\she preaches.
Integrity is not quoting Bible verses and thumping pulpits during campaign time, then running off with another women once getting into parliament. That’s not integrity. That’s hypocrisy and there is too much of it going on.
Together with integrity, let’s also check for humility. A leader whose family life is sound, and is kind and humble, would be an ideal leader. I believe it is worth looking at this particular trait in the life of Jesus.
As we approach another season of Easter, we see in John chapter 13 verse 5, Jesus, the King of glory, stooped on His knees with a towel around his waist, washing dirty feet. Nothing could be lower in Jewish culture than that.
Here was work normally reserved for gentiles and servants, being done by the “Big Man” among them. By washing feet, He was serving his people. Very different from our “big man” concept.
Can we see that happen in PNG? How many big men and women will be willing to ‘go on their knees’ and serve their people with honesty, humility and integrity? In nearing the general elections, and as part of the challenge of Easter, let me now ask – is there any man or woman out there willing to stoop low and wash feet? Please come and be our leader!
n Rose Pitoi is a teacher and a Women’s Rights advocate for Soroptomist International.
By ROSE L. PITOI