CUMMINGS: Donkey Sunday

March 24, 2013 

Christians focus on the “palms” of Palm Sunday, but they should focus on the donkey. Today should be called: Donkey Sunday. This is the day the Gospels say Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and his followers spread palm branches -- like a red carpet -- before him. But the big deal was the donkey not the palms.

Jesus did not ride a horse like a conquering hero, but as written in Zechariah 9:9: “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, but lowly and riding on a donkey.”

That’s the deal: a lowly leader. We don’t see many of those any more. People running for Congress or president or governor or mayor or city councillor or the school board don’t look too lowly.

A reader wrote to me last week and said: “Jesus could never get elected today.” He’s right. Who would vote for a lowly leader? We vote for men and women who promise us “pork.” Loud-mouthed candidates who have totaled up $2.5 trillion dollars in pork and don’t want to cut a penny of it. Not a very lowly approach.

What would be a lowly approach for a modern day Leader? Here’s a short list:

•. Tell us the truth. If the economy needs a tax reform, admit it. If the administration covered up the Benghazi raid, say so. If it’s not a racial issue, don’t make it one, etc.

• Ask questions. Lowly leaders don’t act like they know it all. They ask questions; they seek out people who don’t think like they do: Democrats having lunch with Republicans, imagine that!

• Listen. Many leaders look like they’re listening to you, but they’re just waiting for you to shut up, so they can talk. Lowly leaders truly listen, and then repeat back what they’ve heard for you to correct them.

• Show competency. Don’t fake it, but don’t hide it either. Lowly leaders are humble, but they know we need to base our trust on something substantial.

• Give us a vision. Not some scatter-brained promise that’ll never come true, but a clear and optimistic view of the future where we can “make it happen together.”

• Be inspiring. Nothing worse than a boring leader. We’ve been suffering through the worst recession since the great depression; we need a leader to lift us up. Lowly leaders can do this; they’re lowly, not lame.

• Take action! All leaders -- even the lowly ones -- must step up to the plate and swing. Words won’t do it.

The “non-lowly cardinals” just gave us a “lowly pope.” This oxymoron may indeed prove to be the lowly leader this world desperately needs right now. A man who cooks his own food, lives in his own apartment, rides public transportation, and really helps the poor. Not a bad start.

Pope Francis can certainly accomplish the first six requirements, but can he act? Can he sweep the Curia clean? Can he throw out the Vatican Bank bums? Can he change the celibacy laws and allow women to be priests?

Lowly leaders are not lazy leaders. Riding donkeys sometimes requires spurs.

Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corporation and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is

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