Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Leadership

Yesterday was a big day for the people of the United States (and many other people watching). Probably many of you were watching your t.v.s yesterday morning and taking in the inauguration of the first black American president. Even at work (I was working on the palliative care unit) anybody who wasn't immediately busy was flocking in front of the flat screen to listen To President Obama give his speech. Unfortunately I didn't get to watch it as I had to attend to a patient however I did watch it on Youtube this morning. It seems that many people every where paused yesterday where ever they were to watch Barack Obama make history. As President Obama was swept into power on promises of hope and change at a time of crisis, many are regarding him as some new kind of savior who will heal broken relationships, save the environment, and bring an end to bloodshed and war. I couldn't help but think about the sermon series my pastor shared titled "Letters to the Prime-Minister" during our own elections last fall. The first part was titled (1)"The Need For Moral Authority" and the second part titled (2)"Let History Judge Your Actions". I just want to share these and pray that Obama will lead the country with these values.

(Part 1) If we are having a problem with someone in authority, the reason we may not respect the authority is because of a discrepancy between something they say and do. "I will obey but I won't respect"...that is a lack of moral authority. Moral authority comes from a consistency between the values a leader espouses and the values they live out. Moral authority positions us to influence people at their deepest levels: their hearts, minds, and consciences. The Bible shows an excellent example of this in the life of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5). Nehemiah confronts the illegal practices of the people of Israel. He demands they pay back what they owe and meanwhile Nehemiah refuses to take from the people what is rightfully his (ie taxes). He knew if you want to be first, you have to be last. If you want to be a leader, you have to be a servant. In the movie Braveheart when William Wallace, a commoner fighting for the people, speaks to a leader of the people he basically says the same thing when he says, "You think the people exist to provide for your nobility but I think nobility exists so that they might provide for his people." Leaders need authority that goes beyond 'I'm the president and I say so' The sermon was closed with this letter to the new leader : Dear President Obama (leader's name), Over the next few years, you'll be reminded daily of our approval of your performance. set your sights beyond our approval. We want you to lead in such a way as to gain and maintain our respect. For that to happen there must be consistency between what you say and what you do. This alignment will allow you to lead those who selected your party and those who did not. Be the first president to give away 20% of your annual income publicly. So as to remove any doubt that you are truly a man that cares about the less fortunate in our nation & the world. A quote by Lewis Fisher reads, " History is the chronicle of divorces between creed & deed. We pray that won't be the case for your administration. Our hope is that you'll be a president whose actions reflect the promises you made and the values that you claim to embody and if that is the case, you'll have something more valuable than our approval. You'll have our respect.

(Part 2) We need a leader not as concerned with making people happy as bringing people back to being disciplined and having a margin. They need to lead as then is now. Living in a rich nation, such as Canada & the U.S.A leads to rich nation problems AKA indiscipline problems. An example of this in the Bible is the story of Joseph & Pharaoh (Genesis 41 & 47). A rich nation is about to go through a rough season of turmoil. The leader (Pharaoh) needs to make tough decisions even though he doesn't understand and it won't make everyone happy. In the story, Joseph's brothers sell him into slavery. As a prisoner, Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dreams. He will have 7 years of abundance and prosperity followed by 7 years of famine. Then all the abundance will be forgotten. In the end, Pharaoh made some great leadership decisions:
  • He led with the future in mind.
  • He didn't assume unending prosperity.
  • He prepared the nation for what he believed was ahead.
  • He listened to outsiders.
  • He didn't let personal prejudice blind him from good advice.
We as a people in a "rich nation" see prosperity after prosperity. We need a leader not worried about what people think but will do what 's right for the nation. That's the type of leader that solves problems in a nation that's affluent, that lives beyond it's means. Pride is often easier seen in others, especially leaders. One of the dangers of pride is that it blinds us to the needs of people around us. The opposite of pride is humility and this is a virtue we look for in a leader. Ken Blanchard points out, "Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less." The sermon was closed with this letter to the new leader: Dear President Obama (leader's name), Lead us, don't try to please us. This generation will always be consumed with this generation. We are accustomed to getting our own way. Don't let that influence you. Lead this generation with the next generation in mind. Lead as if then is now. Be content to let history judge your actions rather than current public opinions. We don't want you to be fair, don't aim for fair. Fairness rarely leads to compassion. It often leads to confusion. Instead, do what's right. Remain open to the voices of outsiders and God may grace you with a Joseph.

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