We live in a world in desperate need of leadership. Good, wise leadership.
I’m sure that people in other time periods thought the same. Sin and tyrants have stalked the earth for centuries. When evil rushes in like a flood, a new generation of leaders is needed to rise up, speak and live the truth, and point people to freedom.
The biblical book of Judges is entirely devoted to this subject. Things got bad in Israel;God raised up a good leader; the people were delivered.
In this second decade of the 21st century, I am viewing an ominous leadership vacuum on the horizon. How should we focus our prayers? And who is most responsible for the dearth of righteous leadership?
Let’s look at few realms where good leadership seems to be waning.
The world scene today is not very encouraging from a political leadership standpoint.
In Latin America, pseudo-communist Hugo Chavez is dying in a Cuban hospital. Aging dictator Fidel Castro is probably comatose in the room next door, and both nations are mired in poverty. Ecuador and Nicaragua join with these two nations to form a Marxist-leaning beachhead in the area of the world once protected by the Monroe Doctrine.
Other Latin nation like Brazil and Argentina are rising, but godly leadership is desperately needed to save Latin America from a lurch to the left.
Europe is wealthy and stable compared to other parts of the world, but the weight of many out-of-control entitlement states–especially in the southern tier–could bring Europeans to their knees.
Where are the Winston Churchills and Charlemagnes that are needed to save Europe from both a cultural and economic demise? Angela Merkel and David Cameron are decent–but not exciting. President Hollande is leading France off a tax-the-wealthy cliff. And to the east, Vladimir Putin is no Mikhail Gorbachev.
Then there is Asia where India and China are rising–but can you name any of their leaders? The Communist Chinese shuffle leadership every five years and India is still a nation with great poverty. There are pockets of hope in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, but in North Korea, the latest “Kim” still rules this starving nation–and is testing nuclear missiles.
The Middle East and other Muslim nations are in full-blown leadership crisis. Egypt is now led by Islamic radicals that seem intent on drip feeding sharia law to the unsuspecting masses. Somalia is the new Afghanistan, North Africa is being radicalized, and Syria is engulfed in civil war.
Then there is the United States. I have believed for a number of years that our present political leaders are the worst of our entire history. That goes for both sides of the aisle. No wonder their poll numbers are smaller than my shoe size.
Can you compare Nancy Pelosi to Sam Rayburn? She gave us bills so scary that they needed to shove them through before anybody read them (Obamacare). Harry Reid to Henry Clay? Reid hasn’t passed a budget, which is required by law, for over three years.
And President Obama has clearly shown his quasi-socialist tendencies, and is okay with trampling religious faith (ask Hobby Lobby and numerous other businesses) in his quest to fundamentally transform America from a freedom-based Christian nation into a secular welfare state.
There are many great governors and other leaders waiting in the wings (Governors O’Donnell, Kasich, Daniels, Haley, Jindal, Perry, and Senators Ryan and Rubio are a few that come to mind) but none have commanding national stature. Barack Obama’s cleverness as a politician appears to be producing what Patrick J. Buchanan calls a “New Majority” in America.
That is a scary thought indeed.
Buchanan warns: “With demography moving against the GOP, with more and more Americans becoming dependent upon government, it will take leadership not yet visible to rescue the Republican Party from the fate Barack Hussein Obama has in store for it.”
I’m re-reading David and Robert Wiedemer and Cindy Spitzer’s best-selling book Aftershock. The sub-title is “Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown.”
The authors were nearly the only people on earth that predicted the economic calamities of 2007-08 and so their words have credibility. They said then and are re-stating now that we are in a very dangerous “Bubble Economy” because of disastrous leadership in high places that led to the popping of the stock bubble, the housing bubble, the private credit bubble, and the consumer spending bubble from which they say we will not recover.
What’s now looming on the horizon are the final two bubbles–the government debt and dollar bubbles. The Wiedemers and Spitzer believe these bubbles will also “pop” sometime between 2013-15–depending on how many drastic measures the Fed Reserve throws at the problem. And because America’s economy is one-third of global GDP, what happens here will affect everybody.
The Aftershock authors believe we passed the point of no return in 1981 when our deficit reached what is now a paltry sum of $200 billion. From that point on it was politically unfeasible to reverse the devastating consequences that are coming.
Worldwide, we have very poor leaders running the Treasuries of the nations. There is a huge vacuum of wise, godly, principled people. Only Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond–the lone dissenter on all the Fed’s quantitative easing moves–seems to understand that we must change course or face grave consequences. See his warning in The New York Times.
I’m spending much of this year getting both my personal and corporate financial houses in order to prepare for what’s ahead. There’s time to build an ark when God speaks, but not after he closes the door and the rains descend.
Make Aftershock one of your books of the year in 2013.
But I believe the gravest leadership crisis or vacuum we face comes from the realm that is meant to be the “light of the world”–the Church. Where are the pastors and spiritual leaders who are championing the spiritual harvest, making disciples of all nations, and reforming nations through the power of the Gospel?
In the 20th century we had Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Loren Cunningham and others who pointed the way. In past centuries, the pastors in America led the fight for salvation in individuals and freedom in nations.
Can you name their counterparts today? Probably not.
One survey tells you all you need to know about why we’re in a spiritual leadership vacuum.
The National Association of Evangelicals--the largest evangelical umbrella in America (and upon whose board I serve) asked their members how many of their pastors endorsed political candidates in the 2012 election–a critical election with a clear choice between a man with a Judeo-Christian worldview (Mitt Romney) and one with a secular outlook (Barack Obama).
According to the IRS, non-profit churches can’t endorse partisan candidates, but pastors can do so as individuals and certainly disciple their people to make informed choices.
But in the 2012 election, 94% of pastors didn’t endorse candidates or disciple their people in voting.
Only 6% of Christian leaders got involved. Less than a tithe. During the Revolutionary War days, the numbers would have been reversed.
Now you know why 25 million evangelicals voted for secularism and the growth of the entitlement state in the 2012 election. The pastors didn’t lead, and the people didn’t follow.
The leadership vacuum begins with the Church.
One hundred and sixty years ago, during the drama of the Civil War, America’s greatest revivalist, Charles Finney, blamed the ministers of the day for the growing darkness in the nation. The following quotes are from his book Power From On High:
“I believe it is a fact generally admitted that there is much less conscience manifested by men and women in nearly all walks of life than there was forty years ago. There is justly much complaint of this, and there seems to be but little prospect of reformation. The rings and frauds and villainies in high and low places, among all ranks of men, are most alarming, and one is almost compelled to ask: Can anybody be safely trusted?”
“Now what is the cause of this degeneracy? Doubtless there are many causes that contribute more or less directly to it, but I am persuaded that the fault is more with the pastors and public press than in any and all things else.”
“Pastors have ceased in a great measure to probe the consciences of men with the spiritual laws of God. So far as my knowledge extends, there has been a great letting down and ignoring the searching claims of God’s law as revealed in His Word. This law is the only standard of true morality.”By the law is the knowledge of sin.”
“The law is the quickener of the human conscience. Just in proportion as the spirituality of God’s law is kept out of view will there be a manifest decay of conscience. This must be the inevitable result.”
Notice Mr. Finney says the failure of pastors to share the truth–coupled with the influence of the media–inevitably leads to societal decay. Here is his ringing verdict:
“If there is a decay of conscience, the pastors are responsible for it. If the press lacks moral discrimination, the pastors are responsible for it. If the Church is degenerate and worldly, the pastors are responsible for it.
“If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pastors are responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pastors are responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pastors are responsible for it.”
“Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”
Charles Finney was right. If the spiritual leaders don’t point the way, then all other spheres of leadership will, of necessity, become corrupt.
My pastoral friends: It is time to repent and step into the void with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. To all others, we must “pray for those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1).
Let’s begin with those who shepherd our souls.