Serving God and Others is Mark of True Leadership

The blue light from the TV casts a sleepy glow in my bedroom. I climb under the covers, easing my weary shoulders onto the two pillows that provide the perfect angle on which to doze while watching the news. I must be restless because on this night, it takes me almost a full five minutes to nod off. (Like most mothers, I find falling asleep generally isn’t a problem. Sleeping through the night? That’s another story.)

As I drift off, pundits are talking about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s perseverance versus her sense of entitlement. Someone else mentions Sen. Barack Obama’s sense of entitlement versus his unstoppable momentum. No one says anything about Sen. John McCain, which in itself may speak to any sense of entitlement he may or may not have. I’m not a pundit, so I wouldn’t know.

Anyway, I fall asleep.

I’m a dreamer, so of course, I start drifting freely between the sounds of the spirited conversation in the Fox newsroom and my own unrelated thoughts. First I’m in a car trying to decide if I should be in Michigan or Florida. Then I’m wandering in West Virginia, looking for a ride to Oregon. Then my mind dances through a series of numbered boxes. A starting gate at a horse race? The touch pad on my cell phone? No, wait … it’s coming to me … I’m walking through my calendar.

For some reason, every day on the calendar is Tuesday, yet I know this can’t be right because Jimmy’s confirmation takes place this week on Saturday. My dream takes me through more boxes and numbers (track meet on Wednesday?) until I land on an image of my son, dressed in his new sport coat and dress slacks, looking for all the world like a presidential candidate.

I know why we sleep while we dream. It’s exhausting.

Here’s the goofy part: After checking to make sure my son’s tie is correct and he’s ready to go, I join the conversation in the Fox newsroom and relay that Jimmy will be far more qualified to run for office because, as of Saturday, he will be endowed with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

That’s when I wake up, wondering if any of the three senators vying for the presidency has been confirmed.

Weird, huh?

Oddly enough, I’m not able to fall back to sleep right away. It’s not that my dream is disturbing, just thought-provoking. Jimmy for president? This doesn’t seem likely, though it has a familiar ring to it.

I lie in bed thinking about my son and the important week ahead of him. He has been preparing for months for his confirmation, attending classes and even delivering a homily to his peers on a Gospel reading. I realize that his spiritual growth has mirrored his physical growth – which is to say, it didn’t look like anything was happening for the longest time, and now it seems he’s taller in the evening than he was in the morning.

Though he’s still a young teenager, I see Jimmy developing those all-important traits we Catholics attribute to the presence of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, good counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord – in short, the spiritual maturity that makes one fit for leadership of all kinds. I don’t know what he’ll do with his life, but I imagine he’ll put those spiritual gifts to good use.

My dreams for my son are probably the same kinds of dreams most mothers have for their children – love, fulfillment, success, good health and happiness – and no, I don’t really dream he’ll one day become our president.

Then again, somewhere in this country there are moms raising the next generation of leaders. My hope is that they’re teaching our future presidents that it’s not perseverance or momentum or a sense of entitlement that catapults one to a place of leadership, but a spirit of humility and the genuine desire to serve others. I may be dreaming, but why not?

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