Confucius said: “There are three things that a leader stands in awe of. He is in awe of the Will of Heaven. He is in awe of great men. He is in awe of the words of the sages. Since a petty person is ignorant of the Will of Heaven, he does not stand in awe of it. He has no respect for great men and treats the words of the sages with disdain.”
Comparisons between a “leader” and “petty person” are quite common throughout the Analects. This passage serves to emphasize the point that with his respect for the Will of Heaven and the traditions and learning of past, a leader is much more self-aware and broad-minded than a petty person who focuses his attention on the narrow confines of the here-and-now.