This article also appears in the May 2010 print edition of The Constitutionalist Today.
May is the month for Mother’s Day, a day we set aside to appreciate and honor the most important job in the world. As an American mother who values faith, family, and freedom, inspiration for my maternal role may be considered unusual to some. It comes not from a woman, but a man: it’s our nation’s first President George Washington.
Two years ago while I was reading the life story of George Washington to my children, I realized how little I knew about this man. Sure, from my own schooling I already knew the basic facts: he was our first President, he led the charge against the British in the Revolutionary War, and he married Martha Washington.
But the revelation that sparked my personal conviction and inspired me as a mother was his person. He was a true leader, a man among men in his time. He was humble both before God and his fellow men. He was a brave military man, unafraid to risk his own life in battle and engage the mightiest power in the world.
He inspired a rag-tag collection of troops to defeat the strongest army of the time. He modeled and expected righteous behavior from his troops by forbidding profanity, swearing, and drunkenness. He even required their attendance at regular Divine services. He inspired them to follow him in the most deplorable circumstances, against all odds.
Through protection that could have only been granted by God, he was bulletproof in combat. He knew his own human wisdom bank fell short and daily sought guidance and direction from the Almighty. He loved freedom and served his fellow man faithfully to attain that freedom. He was respected by both friend and foe, and loyal to those he loved.
Simply put: Washington was a leader like no other. Not only a man among men of his time, but among our time. Once you know him, his leadership and legacy continue to influence.
I wondered… where are the George Washingtons of our day? We are a nation crying out for leadership of his kind. It occurred to me that if we had more leaders like him today, freedom might not be teetering on the edge of doom. If we’re going to return to the founding principles that birthed freedom, we need men and women who will lead like Washington, and who share his strength of character.
But where do such leaders come from? And what does George Washington have to do with Mother’s Day? Leadership starts in the home, and mothers have it within our scope to cultivate those leaders within our children. Prior to her death and his inauguration, Washington’s mother told him, “But go George, fulfill the high destinies which Heaven appears to have intended for you; go, my son, and may that Heaven’s and a mother’s blessing be with you always.”
This Mother’s Day I challenge all mothers who love freedom to ponder your roles. We have it within us the ability to raise our children to be leaders and affect our nation’s destiny, just as Washington’s mother did. Set a vision for your children, one to which they can aspire. Show them authentic leadership examples they can follow, like Washington.
Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a future US president. It means leading with principle, courage, and conviction in whatever sphere of influence God gives. Opportunities to lead are present every day: amongst peers, friends, family, church, politics, and more. Whatever it is, set your children’s minds to lead based on truth, principle, and conviction. When you do this, you will also set the example for those around you. And you just might influence another George Washington to rise to the occasion.