Jon Meachem's Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography of Andrew Jackson, American Lion, begins with a quintessential Jackson quote: "I was born for a storm, and calm does not suit me." (He includes another that is pure Teddy Roosevelt: "The darker the night, the bolder the lion.") He recounts how Jackson was beaten, scarred, and nearly killed as a fourteen year old boy for refusing to blacken the boots of a British officer.
A side note to Meachem's account is his insistence that Jackson's formidable will and mind were shaped in surprising degree by his faith. Jackson attended church services for three to four hours growing up. Public prayers in his Presbyterian church could last over twenty minutes; longer than many Presbyterian sermons nowadays. As a grown man, Jackson said he read three chapters of Scripture every day.
When reading this I thought of Jim Collins' famous description of the highest level of leadership. The truly transformational leaders differ in almost every imaginable respect except for two common denominators: they have a deep sense of humility, and an indomitable will. In church leadership, a good deal gets written about the importance and virtue of humility, but not nearly so much gets written about the need for an indomitable will.
We are a little distrustful of the whole notion of will in leaders. Willfulness comes pretty close to the essence of sin. And perhaps the highest prayer ever recorded is an expression of surrender: "Not my will, but yours be done."
However, there is a fundamental difference between a surrendered will and a weak will.
Jesus' surrendered his will. That meant he placed it in submission to his Father, to the mission his father gave him, and to the service of sacrificial love. But that ...