HOW TO BE A GREAT LEADER
The first quality for leadership both among individuals and Assemblies is the capacity to use the energy and competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the groups will go at a tangent and try to find elsewhere a field of work and where they could use their energy.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 33)
HAVE NOBLE AMBITIONS
Let your ambition be the achievement on earth of a Heavenly civilization!
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 98)
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Your criterion should be to pursue your commercial activities with such fairness and equity as to be a cause of guidance to others. The friends of God should, through the instrumentality of their business, lead the people to God’s path, and make them so astonished as to exclaim: “How great is their truthfulness, how high their trustworthiness, and how true is their good will!”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 341)
LEAD WITH LOVE
There is, unfortunately, no way that one can force his own good upon a man. The element of free will is there, and all we believers—and even the Manifestation of God Himself—can do is to offer the truth to mankind. If the people of the world persist, as they seem to be doing, in their blind materialism, they must bear the consequences in a prolongation of their present condition, and even a worsening of it. Our duty as Bahá’ís is to build up such a love and unity within our own ranks that the people will be attracted by this example to the Cause. We also must teach all we can and strengthen the Bahá’í Community in the administration. But more we cannot do to avert the great sufferings which seemingly still lie ahead of the world in its present evil state.
( Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)
Act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And as you act, you, yourself, will become a magnet, which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine power to flow through you.
(Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 91)
If thou art desiring the refulgent light, add to thy love for God. If thou art begging for the breaths of the Holy Spirit, become thou engaged in the commemoration of the Beauty of ABHA. If thou art seeking everlasting glory, choose humility in the path of the True One. If thou art aspiring to eternal life, sacrifice thy soul in the way of God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 214)
DO THE RIGHT THING
In all the action or inaction of man, he receives power from the help of God; but the choice of good or evil belongs to the man himself.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 249)
STRIVE FOR CAPACITY
Sterile soil will produce nothing, even if the cloud of mercy pours rain upon it a thousand years. We must make the soil of our hearts receptive and fertile by tilling in order that the rain of divine mercy may refresh them and bring forth roses and hyacinths of heavenly planting. We must have perceiving eyes in order to see the light of the sun. We must cleanse the nostril in order to scent the fragrances of the divine rose garden. We must render the ears attentive in order to hear the summons of the supreme Kingdom. No matter how beautiful the melody, the ear that is deaf cannot hear it, cannot receive the call of the Supreme Concourse. The nostril that is clogged with dust cannot inhale the fragrant odors of the blossoms. Therefore, we must ever strive for capacity and seek readiness. As long as we lack susceptibility, the beauties and bounties of God cannot penetrate.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 148-149)
SEE THE OPPORTUNITY IN EVERY PROBLEM
The opportunities which the turmoil of the present age presents, with all the sorrows which it evokes, the fears which it excites, the disillusionment which it produces, the perplexities which it creates, the indignation which it arouses, the revolt which it provokes, the grievances it engenders, the spirit of restless search which it awakens, must, in like manner, be exploited for the purpose of spreading far and wide the knowledge of the redemptive power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and for enlisting fresh recruits in the ever-swelling army of His followers. So precious an opportunity, so rare a conjunction of favorable circumstances, may never again recur.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 47)
There is no time to lose. The hour is ripe for the proclamation, without fear, without reserve, and without hesitation, and on a scale never as yet undertaken, of the One Message that can alone extricate humanity from the morass into which it is steadily sinking, and from which they who claim to be the followers of the Most Great Name can and will eventually rescue it. The sooner they who labor for the recognition and triumph of His Faith in the new world arise to carry out these inescapable duties, the sooner will the hopes, the aims and objectives of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as enshrined in His own Plan, be translated from the realm of vision to the plane of actuality and manifest the full force of the potentialities with which they have been endued.
(Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 79)
FORGET YOUR WEAKNESSES
Consequently, do not look upon thy capacity, nay, rather, look upon the infinite grace of the Bounty of Abhá whose grace is comprehending and whose bounty is perfect.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 360)
Justice demands universal participation. Thus, while social action may involve the provision of goods and services in some form, its primary concern must be to build capacity within a given population to participate in creating a better world.
(Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2010)
Unless capacity is developed, the summons of the Kingdom cannot reach the ear, the light of the Sun of Truth will not be observed, and the fragrances of the rose garden of inner significance will be lost. Let us endeavor to attain capacity, susceptibility and worthiness that we may hear the call of the glad tidings of the Kingdom, become revivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit, hoist the standard of the oneness of humanity, establish human brotherhood, and under the protection of divine grace attain the everlasting and eternal life.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 148)
Fear of failure finds no place. Mutual support, commitment to learning, and appreciation of diversity of action are the prevailing norms.
(The Universal House of Justice, January 9, 2001)
At the present stage … far more beneficial results are likely to be achieved by encouragement of the believers and by their education in the principles and significance of Bahá’í administration than by the threat or imposition of sanctions.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA – Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)
As to your worry about over-controlling the friends: by appreciating the nature of the power of action which they possess, you will be able to gauge how best to guide and direct them. A wide latitude for action must be allowed them, which means that a large margin for mistakes must also be allowed. Your National Assembly and the Local Assemblies must not react automatically to every mistake, but distinguish between those that are self-correcting with the passage of time and do no particular harm to the community and those which require Assembly intervention. Related to this is the tendency of the friends to criticize each other at the slightest provocation, whereas the Teachings call upon them to encourage each other. Such tendencies are of course motivated by a deep love for the Faith, a desire to see it free of any flaw. But human beings are not perfect. The Local Assemblies and the friends must be helped through your example and through loving counsel to refrain from such a pattern of criticism, which stunts the growth and development of the community. You should also be fearful of laying down too many rules and regulations. The Cause is not so fragile that a degree of mistakes cannot be tolerated. When you feel that certain actions may become trends with harmful consequences, you may, instead of making a new rule, discuss the matter with the Counsellors, enlisting their support in educating the friends in a manner that will improve their understanding and their conduct.
(Universal House of Justice, Unlocking the Power of Action)
FOCUS ON ENCOURAGEMENT NOT BLAME
It is very discouraging to find inactive and unresponsive believers; on the other hand we must always realize that some souls are weak and immature and not capable of carrying on an active administrative burden. They need encouragement, the love of their fellow Bahá’ís and assistance. To blame them for not doing more for the Cause is useless, and they may actually have a very firm belief in Bahá’u’lláh which with care could be fanned into flame.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 84)
ENCOURAGE LOVE & UNITY
The friends should be helped to overcome their problems, deepen in the Faith, and increase their unity and their love for each other. In this way you will find that your work goes ahead speedily, and that the National Body is like the beating of a healthy heart in the midst of the Community, pumping spiritual love, energy and encouragement out to all the members.
(Shoghi Effendi, Unlocking the Power of Action)
The real secret of universal participation lies in the Master’s oft expressed wish that the friends should love each other, constantly encourage each other, work together, be as one soul in one body, and in so doing become a true, organic, healthy body animated and illumined by the spirit.
(Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 43)
FOCUS ON THE END-GOAL
Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come. In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree. Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms and its leaves and its fruits.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections, 40.3, p. 87)
BE ENTHUSIASTIC & DEDICATED
When the individual arise with enthusiasm, with full dedication and consecration, and allows nothing to deter him; then results will be achieved.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 324)
The Faith needs both the experiences and the wisdom of age as well as the enthusiasm and the energy of youth. When all these qualities are harmoniously combined great results will be achieved.
(Shoghi Effendi, Unlocking the Power of Action)
In everything we do we should always try to attain a standard of excellence.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 609)
HAVE PURE INTENTIONS
So high must be your standard of excellence and so pure and chaste your lives that the moral influence you exert penetrates the consciousness of the wider community.
(Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2008, paragraph 8)
PAVE THE WAY
No doubt in the future, when the spiritualized, a vast amount of our present ills and problems will be remedied. We who toil now are paving the way for a far better world, and this knowledge must uphold and strengthen us through every trial.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 603)
MAKE YOUR MARK
The days pass swiftly as the twinkle of a star. Make your mark now, at this crucial turning point of a juncture, the like of which shall never return. Make that mark in deeds that will ensure for you celestial blessings-guarantee for you, for the entire race, a future beyond any earthly reckoning.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridván 156, 1999, p. 4)
SHINE YOUR LIGHT
The spiritually learned are lamps of guidance among the nations, and stars of good fortune shining from the horizons of humankind. They are fountains of life for such as lie in the death of ignorance and unawareness, and clear springs of perfections for those who thirst and wander in the wasteland of their defects and errors. They are the dawning places of the emblems of Divine Unity and initiates in the mysteries of the glorious Qur‘án. They are skilled physicians for the ailing body of the world, they are the sure antidote to the poison that has corrupted human society. It is they who are the strong citadel guarding humanity, and the impregnable sanctuary for the sorely distressed, the anxious and tormented, victims of ignorance.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 33)
If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 83)
DO YOUR PART
The Universal House of Justice calls the attention of every believer to this vital and pressing matter, and asks the National Spiritual Assemblies to pay special attention to the principle of universal participation, so that every single follower of Bahá’u’lláh may make his offering, however small or great, and thereby identify himself with the work of the Cause everywhere.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 10)
HAVE A VISON
Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self.
Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
We Bahá’ís can always, with the aid of Bahá’u’lláh, Who, is ever ready to strengthen and assist us, turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones, and utilize the often violent forces released by sincere but perhaps misguided friends, as a positive stream of power by turning them into productive channels instead of destructive ones.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 602-603
You certainly have no right to feel negative; you have embraced this glorious Faith and arisen with devotion to serve it, and your labours are greatly appreciated by both the Guardian and your fellow-Bahá’ís. With something as positive as the Faith and all it teaches behind you, you should be a veritable lion of confidence, and he will pray that you may become so.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)
And, most importantly:
All that which ye potentially possess can, however, be manifested only as a result of your own volition. Your own acts testify to this truth.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 149)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘… all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people.
Service is prayer.’