The attempt to distance Donald Trump from the violence and anger that has become characteristic of his rallies suggests a significant gap in our understanding and expectation of leadership.
Yes, I am responsible for my actions as an adult individual. But I am also thankful for the leaders in my life, current and past, who have drawn the best out of me and helped to shape me into someone who at least aspires to make wise choices and acts with concern for others. Stated more simply, when I do good work in this world, it is a reflection, not just of me but also of those who have led me well.
In Church culture, if people are gracious, giving generously, serving one another and their community, we naturally (and rightly) point at church leaders and grant them the credit they deserve for creating a culture of generosity and service.
In sports culture, if a team is growing, improving, buying into the scheme and winning, we naturally (and rightly) point at coaches and grant them the credit they deserve for creating a culture of teamwork and dedication.
Conversely, if that church congregation is stingy and unwelcoming, it is a reflection of its leadership. If that team is disoriented and disorganized, it is a reflection of its coaching. Every good leader or coach I know takes the hit when things fall apart. Then they invite their people to invest in the work of righting what’s wrong.
Certainly, athletes, congregates and voters are responsible for their individual actions to a great degree. But (and here’s the point) a leader’s job is to draw the best out of those who are following. When that’s not happening, it means that leader isn’t performing. Or, it might mean they aren’t fit for the specific leadership position they are attempting to hold.