Early in the Civil War, General David Hunter flooded Lincoln’s office with grumbling letters, complaining about being in command of "only 3000." Lincoln dared to make the following suggestion in a December 31, 1861 letter to Hunter, arguing that grumbling about the smallness of his role was the best way to ruin himself. Quoting a line from Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man—Act well your part, there all the honor lies–Lincoln admonished Hunter:
He who does something at the head of one regiment will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred.
The whole couplet from Pope’s poem reads:
Honor or shame from no condition rise:
Act well your part, there all the honor lies.
Challenged again recently by the temptations of leadership, I found Lincoln’s words quite convicting. How am I doing with my assigned regiments? Am I acting well there? Am I seeking honor from power, prestige, or position, when God calls me to "faithful service"?