Leaders know
Their Strengths

Day 15: how can i use my
talents with humility?

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים צג א): "ה' מָלָךְ גֵּאוּת לָבֵש, (לָבֵ֣שׁ יְ֭הֹוָה עֹ֣ז הִתְאַזָּ֑ר) וגו" וּבַמֶה יִתְגָּאֵה לֵב הָאָדָם

As it is written (Psalms 93:1): "The Lord reigns, He wears clothes of grandeur. He girds Himself with strength.” And thus, what cause does one have for pride?

Garments to man are like character traits, as explained in connection with the special garments of the High Priest and the priest at large.

He girds Himself with strength– The prophet Jeremiah references a belt buried near the river Euphrates that had been in disuse for many years, only to disintegrate by the time Jeremiah was to use it again.

“So I went to Perath and dug up the belt from the place where I had buried it; and found the belt ruined; it was not good for anything.” (Jeremiah 13:7)

 The belt assures the proper functioning of such garments. Leaving the belt buried somewhere, nullifies the value of the garments it was supposed to complement. 

The lesson here is that even a human being, equipped as he is with all the potential God has given him, goes to waste, unless he harnesses his potential in the proper manner. A person emulates God  (hashem oz hitazor, Hashem girds himself with strength) by similarly girding himself with the “ezaur, belt”, his God-given strengths.

What cause does one have for pride- We learn about the ideal qualities of leadership from the Priests in the Temple. The Torah commanded the Priest who performed even such a relatively simple task as removing the ashes from the Altar to wear the appropriate garments when performing this task. (Vayikra 6: 3-4)

The Priest was God’s representative on earth, but his status was above the rest of the nation. He was therefore at risk of forgetting himself and his role. By performing such menial tasks, especially when dressed in garments testifying to his elevated status as Priest, he humbled himself before his Master in heaven. 

A leader knows that he can only reach his potential when he recognizes that his strengths are gifts from above, he uses his talents to do His will, and never forgets that he is but a humble servant of God.

(Adapted from various sections of A Letter for the Ages)

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Daily Goals:
The best training for leadership is a sense of responsibility for the common good. Great leadership is less about technique, charisma, or people-, political-, and number-crunching skills, than about seeking the good of those you serve. Martin Luther King put it well: “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” It is the cause we dedicate ourselves to and the people we serve that lift us, not our own high estimate of ourselves.

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