Those who lead the rest of us have three important characteristics that set them apart, the Pastor Emeritus of the First Presbyterian Church told those gathered at the Interfaith Devotional Tuesday at noon.

The first quality is the ability to hope against hope, the Rev. Harry P. Sweitzer said. "Every leader in the world knows that when that hope is gone, they can't lead any more."Those who make things happen in society also "see the present obstacles as divine opportunities," the Rev. Sweitzer said. He told the story of the man who invented Velcro after taking an autumn walk with his dog. Both the man and the dog returned home covered with burrs so deeply imbedded they were almost impossible to get out.

Most people would have seen only the negative in such an experience, the Rev. Sweitzer said. Instead, this man closely examined the burrs he pulled out of his dog. By studying the configuration of the burrs, he invented Velcro.

Good leaders are also those who "find God's power through trusting God's presence," he said.

They realize that the time after a major event is perhaps more important than the event itself, the Rev. Sweitzer said. As examples, he cited the periods after an achievement, after a promotion, after Christmas, after Easter, after retirement and after life.

"This after period is the time they can really understand what God was telling them. Shakers shake and movers move because they know that mo matter what happens in a particular experience, when it's all said and done God has the final say."

Those who set the pace for the rest of us never doubt the presence of God in what's going on in their life.

"How about you?" Sweitzer asked his audience. "Do you have hope against hope? Do you see present obstacles as divine opportunities? Do you find God's power by trusting his presence?"

The last Interfaith Devotional will be held May 10 at 12:15 p.m. in the Steinway Hall. Elder J. Thomas Fyans, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will speak.