JUDGING POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
“What Makes a Good Candidate?”
This is the season when we as the public are bombarded with the appeals for various offices in which candidates tout their leadership ability. In some of these cases, the appeals come from a place of demonstrated leadership. In far too many other cases, those requesting the privilege of leading us in public office are thoroughly lacking in the elements that make good political leaders. This is true for political offices at all levels.
Over the past two decades, I have spent many hours examining the attributes of effective and capable leaders. I have looked historically at those who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the office they were elected to as well as those who failed horribly as leaders. Unfortunately, in many cases, both the effective leaders and the failed leaders present some of the same characteristics.
My scholarly work in the area of leadership and my experience with leaders have led me to identify five (5) essential characteristics of a good leader who is aspiring political office. They are character, cosmpetence, courage, compassion, and commitment. Interestingly, these characteristics apply in almost every scenario whether in the business, political, educational, or religious arenas. A rigorous examination of any aspiring leader will very likely reveal the quality of the leadership they will provide.
As pastors and spiritual leaders, we are often called upon to advise our members, family, and friends on which candidates have the ability to be effective leaders (and which should, as such, earn our votes). More importantly, we are often asked the more general question, “What characteristics must a candidate possess to merit our support and to be effective in public office?”
As a scholar, I have had the opportunity to study political leaders and read biographies and source materials on histories of great leaders. I have also had the privilege of developing close relationships with some of the well-known leaders in our area over the past twenty (20) years.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Fortunately, many of the individuals who offer themselves for positions of leadership have, in fact, previously held power in other leadership capacities. We must ask ourselves, “How have they used that power?”
To be sure we are selecting the best candidate, we must examine their character. An examination of character is, essentially, a determination of an individual’s faithfulness, integrity and reliability. We consider people who are faithful in meeting their obligations and who are honest and truthful as having good character. Conversely, people who are determined to be dishonest, unreliable and unfaithful in meeting their obligations, we tend to consider as having bad character.
In the political context, we determine a person’s character by how they have behaved themselves in both their public and private lives. Character is the essence of leadership and it can make or break a leader. When a leader has significant character flaws, it erodes the trust in him by his constituents. Once the trust in a leader crumbles, his ability to lead effectively crumbles also. An important component of character is integrity. This means that there is not a gap between what a leaders says and what he does. Those who are seeking political office and requesting our votes and support should be people of impeccable character. This should be a non-negotiable.
Former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton have been examined as political leaders on the basis of their character. Although both men served as president of the United States, their legacies are not the accomplishments achieved during their administrations but rather the scandals left behind by their character deficiencies that followed them throughout their presidency and beyond.
A rigorous evaluation of an individual’s ability to lead in a political milieu requires us to look beyond character. We know many people in our lives who have exceptional character. That is to say they are honest, truthful and faithful in all of their dealings. The question becomes, for a particular position or office, “Does this person possess the requisite competence to lead?” Competence is primarily a matter of ability, intellect and experience. These variables will determine a person’s ability to address issues as they arise in the most effective possible manner.
There are many people who may possess exceptional character but who lack competence based upon inexperience, lack of intellectual development, or unfamiliarity with the issues that they face. There is little solace to those who are harmed by well-intentioned leaders with good character, but who simply do not know what they are doing. Thus, the first question we must ask is, “Whether a person has the requisite character?” The second must be, “Is this person competent to do the job?”
Competence alone cannot make a leader, but it can undo one. Competence is characterized by both knowledge and skills. In the political arena this does not mean that a leader knows everything or how to do everything but it means he know what to do and how to get it done. Leadership expert John Maxwell states, “Highly competent people always go the extra mile. For them, good enough is never enough.” Competent leaders never settle for mediocrity and half done tasks; they constantly strive for excellence and completion of responsibilities.
The third element of an effective leader is courage. Maya Angelou said that, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.” It does not matter if you have the character to understand right from wrong and the competence to make the right decision for your followers if you lack the courage to do so.
Courage is simply the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous, in spite of the dangers or difficulties. Courage is a necessary trait of effective leadership. Courage, like all values, develops and grows with practice. It takes courage to go against the grain, break from the norm, make tough decisions, challenge the status quo, admit when you are wrong, and stay true to your values and convictions in the face of contrary winds.
Our society recognizes the value of courage by honoring people who, in the face of danger to themselves, make difficult choices to help or benefit others. In 1957, John F. Kennedy, won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Profiles in Courage. The book chronicles eight (8) U. S. Senators who took courageous stands, and in most cases, paid high personal prices for their service to their country and the Senate. In each Senator’s situation, the common thread is the quality of courage that each manifested in choosing to do the right thing in the face of the potential (or actual) loss of political power, influence, or reputation as a consequence of doing the right thing.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather fear that has said its prayers. It is the inner strength and resolve to go forward even when fear presents a clear and present danger. In many ways, the greatest challenge to a leader in a democracy is to do the right thing when it is the unpopular thing to do. For that, courage is an essential trait for a good leader in a democracy.
Another essential trait by which we should measure a good leader is demonstrated compassion. Effective leaders must care for those that they lead, from the least to the greatest. A good leader is one who is compassionate towards others. They have the power of empathizing with all people and seek to know and understand the issues affecting them. However, on the other hand, uncompassionate leaders do not empathize with their people, but instead make decisions based on what they want, what is popular or what is good for them.
Most leaders are trained to lead with their head and not their heart. However, compassionate leaders lead with their heart as well as with their head. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States is a perfect example of leading with his heart as well as his head. He is revered as one of our greatest leaders because of his deep compassion for all people. In the depths of the Great Depression, he felt the pain of the hungry, the anxiety of the unemployed, the disillusionment of the displaced, and being deeply moved with compassion, he devised programs to better their lot in life.
The final trait that a good leader must possess is commitment. Commitment is the act of binding, engaging and dedicating oneself (emotionally or intellectually) to a particular cause, idea or activity. The world has known absolutely zero great leaders who lacked commitment. A leader who lacks commitment is someone walking down an endless and meandering road that leads to nowhere. Authur Gordon summed up commitment best when he said, “Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them day after day.” Leaders must be committed to being in the fray day after day.
The reality is that many leaders fail due to a lack of dedication to the principles that they say they stand for. In order to determine a person’s level of commitment, we need simply examine things that they have done or said or principles that they have stood for in the past and how they have adhered to those things or principles. In making our examination we must be mindful of everyone’s need to evolve to meet changing circumstances. However, real commitment is having non-negotiable core stances, values, principles, and having the strength and tenacity to stand by them undeterred by social and political pressure.
A lack of commitment by a leader weakens his leadership and eventually kills it. No leader can last very long in the political arena without commitment. Commitment is one of those intangibles that you cannot teach a leader; he either has it or he doesn’t have it. When commitment exists, you can see it in the leader’s eyes, actions, and in everything he says and does.
It is difficult to discern an individual’s capacity to lead by applying only the principles herein discussed. Ultimately, we must rely on being led by the unction of Almighty God. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” When all is said and done, and we have assessed an individual’s character, competence, courage, compassion and commitment, we need to ask God for wisdom as to whether any particular person merits our support.
By: Randy W. Williams
What should we do about the life issue? Should we preach or teach about it or should we avoid it so that we don’t hurt feelings and open old wounds? If we preach and address it, would people be offended? Should we avoid controversial issues such as the life issue and abortion? Shouldn’t we only preach and teach about culturally acceptable topics that will encourage people? These are questions and issues that the Church as a whole and the local church in particular should address. Read More >
Original Article By: Pastor Joseph Parker
At times, the statement is made “The problem with life is that it doesn’t come with an instruction manual.” Well, I beg to differ. O, yes it does! That instruction manual is called the Bible. It is the written Word of God. The Bible is the Word of God in print. The Word of God is God’s will, His counsel, and His wisdom. The Word of God is God’s heart and His Truth – for all the world and for all of life. Read More >
Original Article By: Pastor Joseph Parker
As shared to Bishop Lowe by Mark Gonzales of the Black Robed Regiment, San Antonio Example: May/June 2015
Back drop: There were 14 candidates running for Mayor of San Antonio. We needed to make sure that we got the Biblical candidate into the runoff election. In a liberal city like San Antonio with 65% Hispanic & 7% Black demographics we were able to make a difference. By reaching out to the churches in the area we got the first Black Female Mayor in the history San Antonio elected. She is a Christian Conservative, prolife, pro traditional marriage, the only one against the non discrimination ordinance (bathroom ordinance; males could go into the female bathroom). Which so happen to be our anchor issue on the voter guide & church turnout. We mobilized 2100 churches, distributed 400,000 voter guides. Increased the voter turnout from 7.6% to 12%. Then on the runoff election, which is normally half of the general election turnout, so the turnout should of been 6%. The runoff elections turnout was 14.2%. More than doubled it. We have had 30,000 new evangelicals voters to vote for the first time in San Antonio. The same thing can be done in Birmingham if the churches engage.
The power of the pulpit is clearly reflected in the life and practices of President Barack Obama. Many pastors failed to understand the power of the messages that they preach to the members of their congregations on Sundays and Wednesday night. Review this article that was written by David French and see how much President Obama’s pastor influenced him and then consider how much his pastor’s influence changed America. Source: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/415266/obama-really-christian-david-french
Adapted from an article by David Barton
I just wanted to supply some documented information regarding the United Church of Christ, the denomination of the church of President Obama. See how his pastor’s teachings had an influence on him as well our nation. No pastor should ever say he does not have any influence.
The United Church of Christ (UCC), is the denomination of church where Rev. Jeremiah Wright is Pastor. President Obama spent over 20 years as a member there. This denomination was the first denomination to ordain an openly gay minister and to call for recognition of homosexual marriages in 1976, [i] Currently there are some 200 openly homosexual UCC clergy serving in its various ministries or pastorates.[ii] The UCC is also a strong advocate of abortion, openly endorsing abortion-on-demand a full two years before the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973; [iii] they even oppose the ban on partial-birth abortions. [iv] The UCC also holds positions that favor Palestinians above Jews (the Jewish Anti-Defamation League is uncomfortable with their position toward Israel), [v]and the UCC doesn’t celebrate the “sexist” God of the Bible but instead uses gender-neutral images of God that can be either “he,” “she,” or whatever the individual wants Him to be. [vi] Believing that “God speaks in new ways every day” and that “doctrine and the intent of the Bible are affected by culture and context,” [vii] the UCC does not embrace fixed absolutes from the Scriptures (especially on moral issues) but rewrites the Bible to match whatever position they embrace at that time. Clearly, this denomination, while officially considered Christian, is certainly not Biblical; there unfortunately are other Christian and Jewish groups and individuals that have also rejected traditional Biblical truths and standards.
[i] “About Us: UCC Firsts,” United Church of Christ (at:http://www.ucc.org/about) See also Shaila Dewan, “United Church of Christ Backs Same-Sex Marriage,” New York Times, July 5, 2005 (at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/05/national/05church.html). [ii] W. Evan Golder, “Bill Johnson reflects on his historic ordination, 30 years later,” United Church of Christ, June 2002 (at: http://www.ucc.org/ucnews/june2002/bill-johnson-reflects-on-his.html). [iii] Hans Holznagel, “Fact Sheet: Reproductive Choice, HR 1833 and the United Church of Christ,” United Church of Christ, April 1996 (at: http://www.wfn.org/1996/05/msg00749.html). See also John Brown, Jr. “The Struggle for Life Within the Church of Christ,” National Right to Life, 1999 (at:http://www.nrlc.org/archive/news/1999/NRL199/brown.html). [iv] Hans Holznagel “Fact Sheet: Reproductive Choice, HR 1833 and the United Church of Christ,” United Church of Christ, April 1996 (at: http://www.wfn.org/1996/05/msg00749.html). See also “Denominations and their stand on the issue of Abortion,” SpiritRestoration, 2008 (at:http://www.pewforum.org/2013/01/16/religious-groups-official-positions-on-abortion) [v] “United Church of Christ’s Israel Divestment Action ‘Troubling’; Contravenes Months of Interfaith Dialogue,” Anti-Defamation League, June 26, 2007 (at: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/4749_62.htm). See also “ADL Assails United Church of Christ for Ignoring Israeli Suffering in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,”Anti-Defamation League, June 26, 2007 (at: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ChJew_31/5058_62.htm); “ADL Welcomes Effort by United Church of Christ to Give Israel a Fair Hearing,” Anti-Defamation League, June 26, 2007 (at: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ChJew_31/20070626_31.htm); John H. Thomas, “The Church, the Synagogue, and the Dilemma of the Middle East,” Boston College, September 19, 2006 (at:http://www.ucc.org/john-thomas-the-church); J. Bennett Guess, “Thomas: Synod policy on Israel-Palestine ‘remains today what it was before,’” United Church of Christ, June 29, 2007 (at: http://www.ucc.org/news/thomas-synod-policy-on.html). [vi] “About Us: UCC Firsts,” United Church of Christ (at: http://www.ucc.org/about). [vii] Brad A. Greenberg, “Church Deems Unions Equal,” San Bernardino Sun, July 5, 2005 (at: http://musclys.blogspot.com/2008/07/ucc-deems-gay-marriages-equal-before.html).
Edie and David Delorme own the Kern’s Bake Shop in Longview, Texas — known around town for their petit fours and sugar cookies — and also their custom-made wedding cakes. The Delormes are also devout Christians — faithful members of a nearby Baptist church — and they run their bakery according to the tenets of their religious beliefs. That became a problem on Feb. 17 when Ben Valencia and Luis Marmolejo requested the bakers make a cake for their upcoming wedding. “I was up front with them,” Edie told me. “I said, ‘I’m sorry but we don’t provide wedding cakes for homosexual marriages.” “We don’t do cakes that might conflict with our spiritual convictions,” she said. “It was not something personal against the two young men. We just need to be able to run our business in a way that honors God.” She offered to provide the gay couple with a list of bakeries that would meet their needs, but she said the men simply walked out of the store. A few days later she received a telephone call from the local newspaper. The gay couple had gone public — and had accused the Delorme family of discrimination. Read Original Article >
Original Article By: Todd Starnes
I think this is — I think we’re at the beginning. I flew back with David Barton yesterday. And David said, just matter-of-factly, he said, we’re in the awakening. And I said, I leaned up and I said, hold on. What did you just say. And he said, we’re in the awakening. And I said, the third great awakening? And he said, oh, yeah. I truly believe it’s happening now. That’s great that’s great. He’s the one that told me about the great awakening. He’s like, we need the great awakening to happen. And we had people of all different faiths walking together. Read More >
Original Article By: The Glenn Beck Program
“I beg the pulpits, the preachers, the rabbis and the priests, the time is here,” Beck said. “I’m trying to hold onto ratings talking about God on a secular (show) – that’s not easy. You guys need to do it.” Read More >
Original Article By: Greg Garrison
Planned Parenthood kills babies. That is a high priority for them. They particularly target minorities, and especially target the African-American community. They strategically place the majority of their clinics in predominantly Black neighborhoods. Why? Because they have a very wicked and racist agenda. Their goal is to get rid of groups that they consider undesirable. This has been one their goals from their beginning. Read Original Article >
Original Article By: Pastor Joseph Parker
Democrat, Republican, third party or independent? Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump for President of the United States? How should I vote? Who should I vote for? Do I vote based upon the political party, how popular the candidate is, how my pocketbook is affected, or based upon who most closely aligns with my personal values and deeply held principles?
The question is, what will be the greatest determining factor that influences your decision?
Is it political party affiliation or loyalty? Let’s break that down briefly. First of all, most quickly identify the two major parties here in America, Democrat and Republican. However, according to Jeffrey M. Jones on January 8, 2014, citing a 2013 Gallup poll, after 18,000 interviews were conducted, 42% of Americans identified as independents, while 31% identified as Democrats and 25% as Republicans. See link for full article: http://www.gallup.com/poll/166763/record-high-americans-identify-independents.aspx. Therefore, though conventional wisdom still asserts the two major party control, increasing numbers show the trend toward political independent thinking Americans is growing.
Let’s be real. How many of us can even name 2 or 3 platform positions on key issues for the either of the parties? National Democratic Party link to positions on issues: https://www.democrats.org/. National Republican Party link to positions on issues: https://gop.com/platform/. Are you voting Democrat because Mom and Grandmamma told you to? Are you voting Republican because Daddy said the Democrats are coming to take your guns away? Let us be encouraged to use the beautiful mind of Christ God has given to each of us to research all political party platforms including third parties and dig deeper into their positions and subsequent policies that will affect us all so greatly. In Hosea 4:6 God warns, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” Politics is defined as the process whereby groups of people make decisions. Duty and responsibility press upon us to know the mindset and motives of the groups we place in power over ourselves, our families, our children and our neighbors. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked rule, the people mourn,” teaches Proverbs 29:2. I am ready to rejoice! How about you?
Does popularity most impact your decision? It’s true, as found in Proverbs 11:14, that “without wise leadership a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” Therefore, we should seek out who is popular among family, trusted friends and other credible sources as we pray, study and formulate our candidate selection process. However, in the end, it’s you and God in that voting booth. I know you don’t take that lightly and neither do I! That is why this was written, to challenge us toward a more thorough intellectual voting personal thought process. We must avoid falling into the trap of simply voting for the most popular candidate, the one whose name we must recognize, or the one whom the media pushes upon us. Equally, we must not vote against the person the media tries to disparage in front of us because of their own selfish agendas. For the sake of our children, let’s choose “capable men and women, such as fear God, lovers of truth, haters of greedy gain and place them to govern, or serve, over us.”- Exodus 18:21.
I understand the following applies to an individual’s aspirations, but indulge me a moment as I allow it to help our candidate selection methodology – “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.”- Proverbs 22:1. We often tend to vote based upon who promises to put the most “riches” into our pocketbooks rather than who has a “good name.” Jesus Himself, the One upon Whose shoulders government will rest completely one day, stated in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” We cannot serve money and morality. However, we can choose a morally based honest steward of resources. Now, I am not contradicting myself here. I just made the argument against voting simply for a popular name, not against voting for one with a “good name”, a name synonymous with character, integrity, experience, skill, qualifications, strong values and principles that align with our biblically based beliefs.
So, will we cast our ballot in favor of a political party, a popular person, our personal pocketbook, or a principles based candidate with a backbone to lead according to biblical righteousness and justice rather than a puppet with a wishbone being pulled in every direction by those funneling finances and desiring favors that only benefit themselves and not the people as a whole? My decision has been made. Has yours?
Original Article By: Jody Trautwein