President Gordon B. Hinckley on leadership

 

President Hinckley spoke on leadership in a devotional called "Stand up for Truth"

 

listen to 5:06 - 9:58 get on this link and then look up "Truth" under topic and  "Gordon B. Hinckley" under speaker.

I recently reread a statement given on this campus years ago by Charles H. Malik, then secretary general of the United Nations. He said:

I respect all men, and it is from disrespect for none that I say there are no great leaders in the world today. In fact, greatness itself is laughed to scorn. You should not be great today--you should sink yourself into the herd, you should not be distinguished from the crowd, you should simply be one of the many.

The commanding voice is lacking. The voice which speaks little, but which when it speaks, speaks with compelling moral authority--this kind of voice is not congenial to this age. The age flattens and levels down every distinction into drab uniformity. Respect for the high, the noble, the great, the rare, the specimen that appears once every hundred or every thousand years, is gone. Respect at all is gone! If you ask whom and what people do respect, the answer is literally nobody and nothing. This is simply an unrespecting age--it is the age of utter mediocrity. To become a leader today, even a mediocre leader, is a most uphill struggle. You are constantly and in every way and from every side pulled down. One wonders who of those living today will be remembered a thousand years from now--the way we remember with such profound respect Plato, and Aristotle, and Christ, and Paul, and Augustine, and Aquinas.

If you believe in prayer, my friends, and I know you do, then pray that God send great leaders, especially great leaders of the spirit. [Charles H. Malik, "Forum Address" (18 November 1975), BYU Studies 16, no. 4 (Summer 1976): 543­44]

It is in harmony with that profound statement that I wish to say a few words to you today. You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others.

I do not suppose that any of us here this day will be remembered a thousand years from now. I do not suppose that we will be remembered a century from now.

But in this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity, above indifference. You can become involved and speak with a strong voice for that which is right.

I took these words from General Mark W. Clark, one of the notable officers of the World War II. He said:

All nations seek it constantly, because it is the key to greatness, sometimes to survival . . . the electric and the elusive quality known as leadership. Where does juvenile delinquency begin? In leaderless families. Where do slums fester? In leaderless cities. Which armies falter, which political parties fail? Poorly led ones. Contrary to the old saying that leaders are born not made, the art of leading can be taught and it can be mastered. [Quoted in Thomas Jefferson Research Center Bulletin, no. 23, December 1967]

You are here majoring in math, in chemistry or physics, in law, in English, whatever. This schooling is designed to equip you to earn a living in the society of which you will become a part. But you cannot simply sit in your laboratory or your library and let the world drift along its aimless way. It needs your strength, your courage, your voice in speaking up for those values that can save it.

If this university meets the purpose for which it is maintained, then you must leave here not alone with secular knowledge but, even more important, with a spiritual and moral foundation that will find expression to improve the family, the community, the nation, even the world of which you will be a part.