During the past month, I have been meditating a lot on the story of Joseph. And one of the little things that has just kind of planted itself in my mind lately is how much Joseph cried, and not just shed a few tears, but really wept. It says in Genesis 43:30 that Joseph went to his room "and broke down and wept". At one point it says that he wept so loudly that all of Pharaoh's house heard him!
One of the greatest leaders in all of Egypt, sometimes was so overwhelmed that he broke down and wept.
I guess before the events of the past month I had a certain expectation of what a leader ought to be, of what I ought to be, and being emotional and breaking down and weeping didn't really fit in the picture. But it is there again and again in the story of Joseph. He wept and he wept and he wept and at the same time he led Egypt through one of the most difficult times of famine in its history.
Torn between the heaviness of my own grief and emotions and the responsibilities of caring for my students and staff during the past month, I have often felt utterly inadequate. But somehow it is comforting to know that great leadership doesn't equate to strength and doesn't require some stoic response to the challenges at hand. Sometimes leaders weep, and surprisingly enough the world does not fall apart. In fact somehow it seems that great leadership is actually forged in that very place where pain and perseverance meet.
I am definitely not there yet. But I am inspired by the reality of Joseph's tears and by the knowledge that sometimes even great leaders' emotions are tender and sometimes they weep and sometimes it happens a lot...and sometimes, I guess, it's OK.