Abraham Lincoln’s Example: Two sources

Still from the critically acclaimed movie, Lincoln (2012)

Still from the critically acclaimed movie, Lincoln (2012)

One of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, always has fascinated me. For a long time, however, I wasn’t entirely sure why.

Now, what stands out the most is Lincoln’s two-part mandate. One, preserve the nation, and the other, end slavery. Everything he thought, said and did had its source in those two mandates.

So, where did Abraham Lincoln get his two-part mandate?

First, Lincolon was a lawyer so the he reached into some source material and he pulled out what he needed in order to build his case. He had this very distinct process of reaching into some source material, the legal documents and the Constitutional documents of the nation, and he pulled out pieces of it and he built this actual structure in his thinking of legal justification for his behavior as far as he could go.

But guess what? Abe ran out of documents and at some places the documents were incomplete, and so what did he have to do?

There was something inside of Lincoln that he relied on as that final source of information. When he needed to make a very difficult decision and the source documents that he used in his legal side of his brain ran out, he was able to go inside and find something else in his heart that helped guide his decision-making process.

As I watched the movie Lincoln (2012), I cheered in my spirit because I was so enthralled with how human he was, how he processed being a human being. I was so impressed as I watched him process the tremendous challenges before him, and then know for certain what he was supposed to accomplish.

In our own lives, we may or may not have a good grasp on our source material, God’s Word, the Bible. Oh, we may know it intellectually, but we may not have processed it fully, owned it, and made it our own.

Then again, we may or may not take enough time in prayer and quietness to hear what our own heart has to say based on the covenants, commitments, and promises we have made.

Like Lincoln, we need both sources to meet the challenges before us in this life.

To Ponder and Discuss: Self-discovery: your inner mandate

1. Is this idea of having a driving life mandate new to you? Is it a new thought that intrigues or challenges you and how? It’s okay if you haven’t thought about it in those terms before.

2. How would you describe your mandate, if any, or how would you like to begin thinking about a new one?

3. How has your desire to define, establish and live out an inner mandate emerged from your introduction to Lincoln’s example? Name one example of how that inner mandate could transform your decision making process in the mundane—and sometimes very difficult—realities of everyday life, family, marriage?

4.  At some point, for every moral decision, you have to go beyond external, written source documents and dig into the well of your emotional resources—your covenants, commitments or promises. What or who are the sources of your inner reserve?


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