Our Leadership Lacuna

May 20, 2013 at 5:15 am 2 comments


Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 5.13.27 PMThe headlines speak for themselves.  “Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference.”[1]  “IRS Admits To Targeting Conservative Groups Over Tax Status.”[2]  “Gov’t Obtains Wide AP Phone Records In Probe.”[3]  It has not been a good week for our nation’s leaders.  And there has been much shock and dismay expressed from people of all political persuasions and stripes.  And yet, no matter how large these scandals may loom, there remains a subtle subtext that underscores these immense ignominies.  To quote the words of the great George Strait in summary of this subtext:  “I’ve come to expect it from you.”  This, sadly, is the kind of behavior that we expect from our leaders.  It may be scandalous, but it isn’t all that surprising.

So how does the general public respond to these salacious, but unsurprising, scandals?  Consider this from TIME’s  Zeke Miller and Michael Crowley in response to the AP phone records story:

Conservatives are not often fierce defenders of the media. But Monday’s news that the Justice Department obtained phone records for several Associated Press reporters as part of a national security leak probe raised a furor on the right, causing numerous Republicans to harshly criticize the Obama administration. While some may have genuine concerns about First Amendment protections, the right’s response also spotlighted an emerging Republican critique of Barack Obama as a Big Brother-style tyrant in charge of a power-abusing surveillance state…

Conservatives are now in the odd position of implicitly defending the media’s rights against the imperative of national security secrecy, a cause that didn’t interest them much when the FBI sought media phone records during the Bush years.[4]

Miller and Crowley’s argument runs like this:  Republicans defended their own when President Bush went after media phone records, so Democrats may do the same with President Obama.  After all, every president and politician bends the rules and compromises on ethics.  We simply have to accept this and then back the horse of our own political persuasion while also working to discredit the opposition.  After all, that’s the formula for winning elections.  One need look no farther than the recent victory of Mark Sanford, just sworn in as South Carolina’s newest Republican congressman, even though a few years earlier he engaged in an illicit affair with an Argentinian woman, insisting that she was his “soul mate,” all while serving as South Carolina’s governor.

Hopefully, a Christian can see right through this kind of shameful political jockeying.  As my mother used to tell me, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”  You can’t justify your group’s bad behavior by pointing to the bad behavior of another group.

So then, how should the Christian react and respond when corruption and scandal among our rock our nation’s leaders?  First, no matter what our political persuasion, we can honestly, but also compassionately, call these types of scandals what they are:  sinful.  Second, rather than buying into the talking points, spin rooms, and damage control strategies, we can honestly, but also compassionately, call for repentance from our leaders.  The best way to deal with sin is not to minimize or excuse it, but to confess it!  Finally, even if our leaders in Washington are not the kind of leaders our nation and world needs, we can be the kind of leaders our nation and world needs.  We can lead in our sphere of influence with integrity and character and with repentance when we falter and fail.  We can seek to lead the way King David sought to lead Israel:  “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:72).

Even though we cannot control how our leaders lead us, we can control the way we lead others – and ourselves.  With God’s help, may we diligently guard the quality and character of our leadership.  Our world needs all the faithful leaders it can get.


[1] Jonathan Karl, “Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference,” ABC News (5.10.2013).

[2] Zeke J Miller & Alex Altman, “IRS Admits To Targeting Conservative Groups Over Tax Status,” TIME Magazine (5.10.2013).

[3] Mark Sherman, “Gov’t Obtains Wide AP Phone Records In Probe,” The Associated Press (5.13.2013).

[4] Zeke Miller & Michael Crowley, “The New GOP Case Against Obama: He’s Cheney!TIME Magazine (5.14.2013).

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Adam Is For Real Remembering the Lost

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. irene  |  May 20, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I think it’s been way too long since we’ve held our leaders accountable for their actions. They do spin and twist and attack to justify their own behavior. But it’s time to say enough. As your Mom used to say: “You mess it up, you clean it up.” I know because I was there.

    mom

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