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Institutional Leadership as Loving Your Enemies

Abraham Lincoln was criticized for making kind remarks about the South, to which he replied, “Don’t I destroy my enemies if I make them my friends?” When Nelson Mandela was unjustly imprisoned by the apartheid regime in South Africa, he used the time to learn Afrikaans, the language of his jailors and their government. When he was released, and when he came to power, he borrowed from Lincoln’s language the term “better angels,” and used it to refer to his stubborn love of others. Like Lincoln, he believed that even the most hardened opponent had within a “better angel” to whom he could appeal. In every institution, we face opponents; in the examples of Lincoln and Mandela we have examples of Christian leadership founded on the practical exercise of loving your enemies, says L. Gregory Jones, the dean of Duke Divinity School. The essay is available for free from Faith & Leadership, an offering of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

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