Who should be our leaders?

29/05/09 | Posted by Poppy

The Euro elections are almost upon us and if members of parliament who say they will step down at the next election (news story is here) bow to pressure and resign now, there will be by-elections. In the light of all the revelations about expenses claims what sort of people should be our leaders?

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 Our New Leader?

Friends of mine are going through the long selection process to train to be ministers and priests in the Church of England. This discernment, as it is called, takes from eighteen months to four years just to get to the point when the Church of England says, yes, you can train. Then there is a two or three year course theological college and a three of four year curacy which on the job training, before someone can go solo in a parish. So it is years between saying to your vicar that you might be called to that role, to getting the keys of first own church. In contrast a politician just offers him or herself up for election. No experience necessary, just a willingness to do it and the ability to convince people that you can.

The process of working out if someone is called to be a priest/minister is far from perfect, but one of the things the selectors do seem to be looking out for is an awareness of self. What is it that motivates you and what needs are driving you? It means taking a long hard look at yourself and seeing if there is anything unhealthy underlying a vocation to be a priest. If it is just a need to be admired and loved that is driving the desire to wear a dog collar then it is very right that it is spotted early. This is because all clergy will go through times when everything that goes wrong in the parish is blamed on them, so if love and admiration is the most important thing to their world, burn out and breakdowns will be likely.

There is no process to select our political leaders that is anywhere near as rigorous.Maybe we get the politicians we deserve. They promise to enact laws for us and change policies for us. If we are motivated by selfish aims then we get politicians who will deliver those aims and some of them are going to be tainted by that need to put number one first.

I live in a wealthy area if you look at all the indicators of house prices and second car ownership. Despite this we have one of the lowest council tax rates in the country as the local elections have been fought on that issue. Strangely enough the local electorate get very upset when they find that the local council cannot provide free homecare to everyone over eighty or a shopping service for Granny when she starts to get wobbly and frail. That is because the local council social services don’t have the cash to provide those services because the electorate didn’t want to pay for them. Oddly enough, when it gets personal people get very unhappy as it is their relative that is affected.

We elect our national politicians to do what we want. To keep out the foreigner and keep our taxes low to quote at least two parties who are campaigning locally. Is it any surprise that we get our selfish society writ large in our politicians?

So who should be our leaders? As someone brought up on ‘Yes Minister’ I suspect that the civil service run the country anyway and the very cynical part of me says ‘what is Sir Humphrey up to if there is all this sound and fury in the press?’

Leaving aside the conspiracy theories…..

Can Jesus be a model for leadership?

I don’t have an answer. When I was trying to effect change in a school I read something in a book on change that said that if you behave like Jesus you are likely to be crucified. The book was right. My attempts to put the children and their education first were met with anger and hostility. Leadership of change is painful and it costs.

So maybe we need to be more aware of what we are electing our MPs for. Is it to make our individual lives easier in the short term or should it be for the benefit of all of society including those who don’t have a voice? For this to happen there would need to be a radical shift from the society where the needs of the individual are paramount. Starting with a society where we love our God with all our heart and all our mind and all our strength and love our neighbours as ourselves perhaps. But that was suggested twenty centuries ago and the person who said it hung on a cross to die.

We get the leadership we deserve. We can only change ourselves. Maybe that is the lesson to learn.

Jesus’ death on the cross was not the end. The resurrection changed that, there is hope, but that hope is in the form of people making decisions on how to live their lives and how they will be in society. Jesus doesn’t elect our leaders, we do and maybe we should take a long hard look at ourselves and what motivates us before putting our mark on the ballot paper.

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We have in British politics the shining example of William Wilberforce, the Clapham Group and many others who transformed our nation in the Victorian age - following the great religious revival under Whitfield and Wesley of the 18th century.
We, today, need Christian heroes in politics more than ever. We have a debased and corrupted political system, and we need new politicians of vision,courage,integrity and straightforward character.
People want honest MPs whom they can trust to run the country in the best interests of all.
The Bible clearly conveys the message that our society and politics must reflect moral behaviour, justice, peace and care for creation.
As Christians, we need to reflect the boldness of the early believers who challenged the hostile world of their day with the power of the Gospel and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Wilberforce was a Christian of just that type.

May God raise up men and women of his calibre today to represent us. Please pray for this.

#1. By Tom Norton on May 31, 2009

Wilberforce is one of my heros too. If I’ve got the links right you should be able to go straight to pages about him on the related modules which are to the right of the picture at the top of this blog.

#2. By poppy on May 31, 2009

Yes you are right - an easy process - thank you and God bless.

#3. By Tom Norton on May 31, 2009

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