Publisher's Note: Today's Greenelines is part 1 of a five-part series on Republican presidents noted for their leadership skills. The order of presentation does not reflect a ranking.
Ronald Reagan was often referred to as the "Great Communicator," but he should also be recalled as the "great reviver."
Reagan won a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter (in a race pundits said was too close to call just days before the election) largely because he managed to instill hope in a generation who appeared to be hopeless.
Carter was battling the Iran hostage crisis, a difficult economy and a discouraged America recovering from a '70s generation of general decline in patriotism and hope. Carter was a strong-willed and intelligent leader but lacked personal connection during the campaign.
I believe Reagan revived the spirit of America and helped the collective union to enlarge their faith. He didn't seem elite or aloof. He spoke to America as a conservative grandfather (he served from nearly age 70 to within a few days of age 77) with a keen sense of connection to everyday concerns. He rode a horse and escaped to think and work at his ranch. He seemed to live a simple life.
He also restored our military strength and ended the Cold War with Russia without a real war. Reagan understood and battled most of his life for the rights of an individual. Many historians think he learned these skills as a leader of the Screen Actor's Guild or as Second Lieutenant in the Army. I think he was gifted to make personal connections with people.
As a communicator, a review of his speeches, radio messages, and writings comprise a curriculum for any master class in communication.
He was mocked by many due to his propensity to mumble and stumble and forget people and places. But most didn't care because he connected with our hearts if not our intellect. He helped people feel his message.
Orators give good speeches and season their words with catch phrases and euphemisms. We return applause and leave the speech wondering what we just heard. That wasn't the case with Reagan.
He said, "We are Americans" and moved us to plan, start businesses and believe again. He cut taxes and essentially cleared a path to the technology revolution of the '90s.
While I only know what I read about Ronald Reagan's spiritual condition, facts show that he regularly thanked and gave honor to God for all the good that was occurring. Even Mother Theresa noted his contribution, "In this man, greatness and simplicity are one."
Effective leaders communicate, heart to heart.
"So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands" (Ps. 78:72, MEV).
Platform Tip No. 52
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