As many watched the US election unfold the common cry was ‘how could America do this?’. Everywhere I go conversations about the outcome can be overheard. What do you do when the free world seems to be going in a direction you don’t want to follow?
Look at the source
It is logical to think that culture on a large scale does not change overnight. While an election may shift the power of leadership in a moment, the culture of leadership changes at a much slower rate. We may ask the question ‘how has it come to this?’ but never receive a satisfying answer. A more proactive question is ‘how do we prevent this?’ Dwight Eisenhower (34th President of the US) recognised the ‘supreme quality of leadership is integrity.’[i] It seems things have changed and integrity is no longer the benchmark.
This begs the question, what do we hold as important qualities in a leader? What is the leadership culture in Australia? We all have different character traits that we would like to see in the leadership culture, but if we’re honest what would we find? Does it shake our world like the US election has, or is it a culture we are willing to stand behind? Regardless of what our leadership culture is, Mahatma Gandhi’s famous saying ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’ points the finger directly back at us. It’s easy to blame others for what happens, but we all impact our culture either passively or actively. It all leads back to what we see as important in leadership and how much we want to do about it.
Find some hope
Can we trust our leaders to give us the hope we need to live day to day? We have all had leaders who have fallen, disappointed us or failed in some way or another. Since we cannot put our hope in leaders, where do we put it? We can hope in ourselves and our ability to work hard and make a comfortable life for ourselves. But does it sustain hope for a human being? We watched the markets plunge in the US as the polls came in. All of the hard earned money that people relied upon was wiped in an instant. The unemployment rate rise in Australia adds to our uncertainty.
Can real hope be secured in a world full of change? Even the Bible tells us that nations have a time and a place in history. “From one man he (God) made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.’[ii] If you believe in the existence of a sovereign God, this is a great comfort. God knows how long each nation will last. The Bible then says, ‘God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.’[iii] For the believer, no matter what countries do, God knows and uses them in the hope we might reach out to Him. God so wants to reach us he will use powers, nations, rulers, turmoil, elections, anything to reach us. Jesus himself lived under a dictatorship bearing little resemblance to western democracy as we know it, but maintained his hopeful vision for a greater kingdom and a better, purer leadership. This was no pipe dream, Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place’.[iv]
Maybe these questions might help the conversation along:
- What things am I willing to stand up for regardless of popular opinion?
- How am I fostering good leadership in my spheres, i.e. family, workplace and community?
- What would God’s response be to my concerns and worries about the nations?
- Where do I place my hope in a world fast changing around me?