Some people live their lives in such a manner that the only way they can be accurately described is “Christlike.” Those people’s lives are marked by humility, generosity, and sacrifice. In short, they are far more focused on others than themselves.
For many reasons, George Washington was one of those people.
Blood had already been spilled in the revolutionary effort, when in 1775, members of the Continental Congress asked George Washington to helm the newly formed Continental Army. The mighty patriot accepted the position, but on the day he did so, with great humility he declared, “With the utmost of sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.”
The salary for General Washington was set at $500 per month, but as one of the wealthiest men in the country, he declined the pay and asked only to be reimbursed for expenses he incurred in the field. That kind of selflessness endeared him to his fellow patriots. Taking note of how Washington led, John Adams said of him, “There is something charming to me in the conduct of Washington, a gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent, leaving his delicious retirement, his family and friends, sacrificing his ease and hazarding all in the cause of his country.”
But The Cause was worth the risk – as history and our freedom attest! Washington eventually led the colonies to victory over England, but the great leader revealed his humility yet again when, almost immediately after securing victory, he resigned his post as General, and slipped back into civilian life (a move that greatly surprised his former enemy, King George III).
But Washington’s tranquility would be short-lived.
He quickly found himself back in the public eye again when he discovered that he’d been unanimously elected President of the United States. For good reasons, Washington was even more concerned about taking this role than the previous one. When he left his beloved home, he wrote, “I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life and to domestic felicity, and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York with the best disposition to render service to my country in obedience to its call but with less hope of answering its expectations.”
Though his presidency was a tough one – there’s lots to do when starting a nation, after all – it was a highly successful one. After two terms, he left public office once more, yet again surprising those around him who assumed he would stay in power until he died.
Washington’s legacy is an admirable one that no one else has effectively imitated. But then again, his example came from the greatest Leader of all, Jesus Christ.
George Washington…A Biography by Washington Irving. Doubleday & Company, 1976, Pages 168-169.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)