Tag Archives: honesty

Leadership models are still needed today

bald eagle

Our iconic national symbol.

By Bruce Stambaugh

As a child, I liked February for very practical reasons. The shortest month of the year offered three celebrations, Valentines Day, Lincoln’s birthday, and Washington’s Birthday all in the space of 10 days.

Feb. 12, 14, and 22 were all important dates for us elementary scholars 60 years ago. Madison Avenue marketing gurus had yet to invent, and politicians endorse Presidents Day. Valentines Day was the favorite of the students of course.

George Washington

George Washington.

With their imposing portraits hanging in each classroom, the first president and the 16th clearly carried more importance. As primary school children, we were taught to admire and imitate the values those two distinguished leaders modeled so magnanimously.

Of course, much of what we learned then was more lore than fact. The stories weren’t even alternative facts. The young lives of these two critical leaders had become romanticized over time.

Washington and Lincoln both revered honesty. Washington’s “I cannot tell a lie” cherry tree story lingers like a fairy tale. Lincoln prided himself on honesty, too. His presidential campaign slogan was simply “Honest Abe.”

Washington was and is admired for his stalwart, steady, stable leadership in tumultuous, tenuous times of our young country. Lincoln, of course, perilously held the country together during its darkest hours, the Civil War.

In the late 1960s, the federal holidays were legislated to fall on Mondays creating long weekends for employees and mega marketing sales campaigns for retailers of every kind. Consequently, Washington’s Birthday was moved to the third Monday in Feb. That means his Feb. 22 birthdate can never be celebrated on the actual birthday.

Abe Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln.

The dynamic leadership of Washington and Lincoln both formed and saved our country. Each man cast aside personal time and gains for the country’s common good. They were humble, honest leaders who enabled our nation to reach far beyond anything they could have imagined.

Clearly, there was much more to George Washington than repenting from chopping down a cherry tree or having wooden teeth. He was a resolute military and civilian leader whose personal stability laid the foundation for the United States of America. He rightly earned “The Father of Our Country” mantra.

Lincoln was perhaps a more complex figure, and viewed differently, depending on which part of the country you lived in and what individuals believed at the time and believe now. Some states still don’t honor Lincoln’s birthday.

Nevertheless, it was Lincoln’s absolute resolve and courage that saw our divided nation bend but not break. In the end, his steadfast pronouncements cost him his life. Though he was known to ponder and doubt, he never wavered from the way the united country should go.

Though he would have rather been back on the farm at Mt. Vernon, Washington fulfilled his leadership calling. But he was not arrogant in thinking he could lead alone. Washington valued the opinion of others and collaborated with Hamilton, Madison, and Jefferson to name a few, men whose viewpoints often differed with his.

Lincoln’s eloquent Gettysburg Address perfectly summed up his attitude and approach to the vision of how the country should and must operate to survive. His famous words are emblazoned on our national soul: “That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Both presidents modeled righteousness and humility through their values, principles, and character. Those are still valid, desired characteristics for all citizenry, and especially for today’s leaders.

wheat shocks, grain fields

Amber fields of grain.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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For this marriage, the key to success is no secret

Bruce and Neva Stambaugh

Bruce and Neva Stambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

Where do you begin to share about being married to the same person for four decades? After all, my wife and I have been through a lot together during those 40 years.

Perhaps the best place to start is at the beginning. And what a beginning it was.

Crazy as it sounds, nine days after we met we were engaged, although we did wait a month to make it public. We didn’t want people to think we were totally nuts. We were married nine months later. When our two children were old enough to understand, we advised them against using our expeditious courtship as a model to matrimony.

I can remember our wedding day as if it were yesterday. I was so scared that I didn’t even notice that the farm field next to the church had been sprayed with liquid manure that afternoon.

Before the receiving line had formed, I got a taste of what married life really would be like. I accidentally stepped on the train of my wife’s wedding dress, and immediately had her finger in my face. I think that’s when I started to smell the manure.

Our son once asked me what was the secret to the success of our marriage. I simply told him that his mother and I have had no secrets between us. What happens happens. Good or bad, helpful or harmful, “for richer or for poorer,” it’s all out there.

Like most marriages, it hasn’t always been pretty or blissful. No marriage is perfect, including ours. Sure, we air things out, but in so doing try to always maintain our love, respect and admiration for one another. We may have raised our voices to one another from time to time, but never a hand.

We haven’t come this far together on our own either. Family and friends have graciously helped us along the way. Our parents were excellent models of wedded commitment.

From them we learned not only to serve others, but to also enjoy each opportunity that would come along. We try our best to humbly help wherever and whenever we can.

Another plus for us is that Neva and I have a lot in common. We love to travel, enjoy quietness, sunsets, nature, and sharing a meal with guests. Hospitality is one of Neva’s greatest gifts.

Of course, we each do our own things, too. She reads. I write. She quilts. I bird.

That might be another element that cemented our marital longevity. We wisely allow each other our own space and time, without a hint of jealousy or suspicion. If you truly love someone, trust is everything. Break it, and you find yourself back at square one or worse.

For me, the best part of being married for 40 years is just that. We have been married for 40 years. Our marriage has been an investment in one another, our wonderful children and their spouses, our grandchildren, our families, the community, friends, and our church family. We have been blessed by their contributions to us, too.

Where do you end sharing about being married to the same person for 40 years? For that answer, it’s probably best to go back to the beginning, again: “Until death do us part.”

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