What is Leadership?

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Adapted from the message shared by Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne at the OHA Trustee investiture at Kawaiaha‘o Church on Dec. 8, 2022

I wanted to talk to you about the question: “What is Leadership?”

I’m going to take you to Psalm 78:70-72. It says, “He chose David, his servant, and took him from the sheep pens, and tending the sheep, he brought him to be the shepherd of his people, Jacob of Israel, his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart and skillful hands.”

If you know some of the stories of the Bible, the people were without kings. So the people of Israel decided to get their own King. But when God said, “I’ll find you a king,” they went, “nah…we’ll pick our own.” So they picked this guy named Saul and, unfortunately, Saul was…pohō (useless).

So God told them, “The next one is mine. You had your chance.”

In first Samuel 16:7 God tells the prophet Samuel to go out to go find the king that he chose, so Samuel went to the house of Jesse and when he arrived, he called for all the sons. The first son that came out was this big, strapping number one boy with all these muscles.

But what did God tell him? “No, Samuel, that’s not the one I picked.”

As it says in this verse, “…the Lord said to Samuel the prophet, ‘Do not take his appearance or his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see what man sees. For the Lord looks not at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

That’s what leadership is, it’s about the heart. So what is the leadership of the heart?

People want to know that they can trust you. They want integrity. We call it “‘oia‘i‘o” (true, authentic). It needs to be true, firm, genuine, real.

In Chronicles 16:9 it says, “the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed.”

[To the Trustees]: God searched the whole earth for you folks.

I was talking to a kupuna who said, “Our lāhui is resilient. We endured having our kingdom stolen. And people thought that we were going to become extinct. But we, the lāhui, have endured.”

But the thing that I want you to remember is that I refuse to endure having our own people, my people, have hakakā (arguing/fighting) with and among each other.

The [people of] Israel fought against each other. There was one kingdom. But there was hakakā within the nation of Israel. So what did they do? They cut their nation in half! The northern part became Israel; the southern part became Judah.

Are we going to make the same mistakes that other nations have made?

It’s okay to have different mana‘o from other kānaka. It is not okay to belittle another kanaka’s dignity. Because when we do that, we unknowingly belittle another kanaka’s mo‘okū‘auhau. Because when you speak to them, you also speak to the family that has been here with them and still continues to be with them – our kupūna kahikō.

So we never speak ill about other kānaka. Much less anybody else.

Let me tell you the story about [revered kupuna] Nana Veary and her tūtū. They saw this man coming from a distance and her tūtū told Nana, “When that one comes, bring him in the house.” When the man arrived, they brought him into the house and sat down at the kitchen table. They started talking story, he ate, and then when he was mā‘ona (full) he got up and left.

Afterward Nana asked her tūtū, “Was that your friend?” Her tūtū replied, “Oh, I don’t know who that is.” Nana said, “You don’t know who that is?” “No,” said her tūtū. “Then why did you invite him in?”

Nana’s tūtū said: “I wasn’t talking to the man, I was talking to the spirit inside of the man.”


To view Kahu Makuakāne’s entire message go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjPMuSwxFG0