Leadership or Rulership?

Before the advent of modern weapons, when battles were fought with the sword and arrows, fighting largely requires body contact. The battle is led by the leader. In many instances, that would be the king himself or his top generals. It is the leader who must show courage and ability to lead the army from the front. His army follows him. A leader and ruler must be prepared to die for his people. Rarely will the leader be fighting and commanding his army from the rear. Who would follow him? A leader leads because he is recognised for his bravery and commitment to his army and people. A ruler is necessarily a leader warrior. Modern day leaders are of a different breed. With un-manned drone weapons, even trying to identify where is the army is may be problematic. Is it the drone army? Is it the operators of the drone? Without a real human army that is identifiable, ascertaining the leader of the “army” is also an issue.

Leading a Battle

Leading a Battle

Movies may have painted images of untold bravery as leaders led their armies into battles in the past. Barring some fiction movies, movie producers must be credited to have done reasonable due diligence in their research before a battle movie is choreographed and reaches the big screen. Historical evidences do support the belief that medieval leaders led their armies physically in battles. The role of leadership is the same in the East and West. Chinese feudal lords were rulers and leaders in war. They were warrior leaders and kings. In those medieval times, leadership and rulership are often synonymous. A ruler rules and leads. They are inseparable functions.

In today’s context, the functions of rulership and leadership have largely been devolved down a hierarchy of administrators. In nations with universal suffrage, a ruler takes the form of a Head of State and rules via control over various branches of government like the legislature, the judicial and executive branches. In a military junta, the power to rule is clearer, and that person is the head of the military regime. In nations that have developed a strong and stable arms of government, rulership no longer reflects leadership. The road to rulership is either via brute force as in a military regime or political craftsmanship derived from financial power, mass deception, or both. In some cases, rulership is a birthright.  In both cases, the ruler may be a nincompoop leader. He rules, but may not necessarily be capable of leading. There are ample examples of such rulers all around the world. Watching the actions of some rulers makes the stomach churns – it is totally revolting.

Today’s ruler no longer need to care or lead his people. That is no longer a job description. He need not be the brave warrior shielding the pack. He could well be playing golf everyday of his rule. If there is a war, you can bet he is the last to die, and the first to flee. Even in the spiritual world, the same is happening. Pastors who are supposed to be shepherds are no longer exercising their mandate. “These men (pastors) are not those who care for the sheep, but rather fleece the sheep for their own self-aggrandizement. They love money and the approval of men rather than fear God and seek to glorify Him” (Freedom Outpost).

Perhaps the English language has the best description of leadership today. This is best reflected in the title of “Rear Admiral”. It is no misnomer. The English language does have its idiosyncrasies,  but “Rear Admiral” is a truism, tells you precisely that leadership that is from the rear. Who says the English language is daft!


And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

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