Lincoln Leadership Lessons: Stand Firm

June 28, 2012

Today is part two of a five part series exploring Leadership Lessons from Lincoln Applied to Christian Ministry.


Lincoln stood firm on many issues while president against opposition from others both within his own Presidential Cabinet and outsiders too.[1]

Lincoln Leadership Lessons Applied to Christian Ministry

No greater quote can illustrate his ability to stand firm on an issue than this quote he made in 1939: “Broken by it, I, too may be; bow to it I never will. The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.”[2] Historians disagree about whether Lincoln’s quote is about banking or slavery. Early historians (including the pastor who read this quote at his funeral) believe Lincoln was talking about slavery, while historians as of late claim Lincoln was speaking on the topic of banking. A careful study of Lincoln will reveal that as a member of the Whig Party early in his political career (which was at the time he made this speech) meant he was in strong favor of a US bank and it is well known his stance on slavery. Whichever topic he was discussing does not matter because his steadfast commitment to both issues was the same. The only difference was the strength of opinion and belief of the American people when sought to change each issue as he rose in his political career.

Another example of Lincoln standing firm came in the context of Mr. Lincoln standing up for his wife, Mary Lincoln, when others accused her of inviting unworthy guests to the White House. Mr. Lincoln calmly responded to the criticizer that he and his wife will invite whom they please to have as company in their home and that they do not need any outside help in selecting their guests to entertain.[3]

One more great example of Lincoln standing firm was when he talked about the necessity of all men being equal when he commented, “there is no need of bloodshed and war. . . . there will be no bloodshed unless it be forced upon the government. The government will not use force unless force is used against it.”[4] But, Lincoln makes it very clear that he is the one in charge and that there will be use of force if the Confederate States decide to start a war and have a war. There are many more instances where Lincoln stood firm on issues. The most common issue which Lincoln stood firm on for many years was the topic of slavery. Lincoln believed that if it was not abolished, it should at least not be allowed to spread.

In my life there are instances where I need to stand firm, and this probably is an area where I need to have more confidence. When instances come up and situations arise that I have a strong feeling on, I need to take a position and stand firm on what I believe in. But this is sometimes difficult because I am at times scared to anger others. Learning about this quality Lincoln had helps me to realize that some topics are so important that it is okay to anger others when it leads to standing firm for what is right.

Question: How do you stand firm in your work?

                [1] The concept of Lincoln developing a Presidential Cabinet of men who often strongly opposed him on many issues is a topic so amazing that Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote a book about this topic titled, Team of Rivals: The Practical Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, 2005). In the book she specifically describes how Lincoln mastered the art of leading other men so well that he was able to assemble a Presidential Cabinet of men who mostly opposed many of his beliefs, but how in the end Lincoln was able to masterfully employ them to help keep the Union together and end slavery.

                [2] William Lee Miller, Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2002), 144. 

                [3] David Grubin, Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided, DVD (American Experience and PBS, 2005).

                [4] Abraham Lincoln, “Philadelphia Speech” (speech, Independence Hall, 1861).

Christopher L. Scott

Posts Twitter Facebook Google+

Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."