Early on the morning of 6th June 1944 Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, gave the order to launch the D-Day landings. While many thousands of people were involved in the planning and preparation, the decision to go was his and his alone, and he felt the weight of responsibility. That same afternoon he sat at his table and wrote a press release that began with the words, “Our landings have failed”, went on to commend the bravery of the servicemen who had taken part, and ended “If any fault or blame attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
Obviously the press release was never sent, but it tells us something essential about the nature of true leadership that Eisenhower did not take lightly the position and authority that he had been given, that he felt keenly the impact that the decision he made would have on the lives of others, and that he was willing to take responsibility if things went wrong. He understood that leaders must always remember that they are servants, something we see supremely in the life of Jesus who said that he had come, “not to be served but to serve’. In our current world we do well to pray that those who aspire to lead us will remember the same.