ADVERTISING
 
Friday, September 20   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Mercedes McGuire
 

Public leaders and the slow formation of character

Leaders who have the character and resilience to thrive in the midst of adversity are not born; they are formed by the choices they make.

JUBILEE CENTRE 10 JULY 2019 08:27 h GMT+1
Seedlings grow up to become strong oaks not in years, but over decades and centuries. / Pixabay.

The currency of formation in the natural world is time – little happens without it.



Seedlings grow up to become strong oaks not in years, but over decades and centuries. The strength and reliability of an oak only happens through the process.



There is no way to short-circuit this process, and in fact, if a tree were to do so, it would be to its own detriment.



In public leadership, a similar process is needed. Leaders who have the character and resilience to thrive in the midst of adversity are not born; they are formed by the choices they make.



Often these choices are made in secret crucibles of testing, under managerial, internal or relational pressures – often facing accusation, misunderstanding, betrayal, disappointment, personal weaknesses and failures.



In this period of formation, an emerging leader must have a long-term vision that is rooted in the ways of God and an understanding of the process essential to their own development.



This enables them to recognise what is happening and persevere through the trials and suffering which are inescapable elements of their formation.



In fact, they learn to appropriate suffering as a vehicle to perseverance, perseverance to character; and character, hope, a hope does not put them to shame, because of the pouring out of God’s love into their hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.



This may sound slightly masochistic, but these are the words of Paul to the Romans (Romans 5).



As we look at leadership trends in several democratic countries, we might well feel puzzled as we try to explain or interpret how leadership has become separated from its essential foundation of character.



In the UK, after a somewhat ‘wild ride’ following the Brexit referendum in 2016, we are now preparing to transition to a new Prime Minister. Rumour has it that Boris Johnson is next in line.



Since Johnson is himself a classicist (he studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford), a recent article in The Economist draws on political philosophy from Plato’s Republic to evaluate Johnson’s character in a ‘Plato test’.



One of Plato’s central arguments is that character matters deeply. This can include truthfulness, a love of wisdom, a studied and seasoned experience in effective governance, a developed, coherent view of the world and a diligent commitment to developing the qualities essential for your public role.



And as The Economist argues, this is not well represented by figures like Johnson.



An equally good question to ask is why we, the voting people, seem not only to be attracted to, but are choosing to support and endorse leaders who fail to demonstrate not only character, but a working knowledge of the nuts and bolts of national governance?



Rather than statesmen, we’ve elected a drama teacher (Canada), a reality TV show host and businessman (USA) and a comedian (Ukraine) to the highest levels of public office.



They rise (as if propelled by invisible jet streams) to positions of national leadership despite having little to no proven experience or practical knowledge about how to govern a nation.



Instead of statesmen, we are voting for masters of entertainment— ‘Citizens are so consumed by pleasure-seeking that they beggar the economy; so hostile to authority that they ignore the advice of experts; and so committed to liberty that they lose any common purpose[1]’.



The phenomenon of leaders such as Trudeau, Trump, Johnson and Zelensky is partly explained by the climate and posture of the people.



So how do we respond to the strange political landscapes of our societies? Do we moan, resist, protest, denounce or run away?



For a follower of Christ, the answer to this question is four-fold:



First, to pray. We can stand freely before the highest authority in heaven and on earth with our requests. Let’s intercede for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, and to make, ‘petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’[2]



Prayer must not be taken for granted, rather, it is one of the foremost vehicles through which peace can be extended in times of crisis.



Secondly, know that our prayers for God’s kingdom to come will first be answered in us. Therefore, joyfully embrace the process of growth (including various forms of trials and sufferings) that shape in us the Christ-like character that will substantiate the weight of our prayers.



Thirdly, be salt and light in the world—and especially in the long-term. The primary call of Christ is not towards a ‘quick fix’, but it is to know the Father, to be a witness of Christ in the world and a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.



Embracing the mystery and paradox of this reality reconfigure our zeal for instant change into a long (and faithful) obedience in the same direction[3] (the true vehicle of change) and a trust that ultimately, God is working out his purposes in the unfolding of history.



Fourthly—and finally—remember the oak tree. Consider its significance in our personal lives, our communal lives and when we evaluate our public figures. It brings insight into the crisis of character in public leadership today.



You cannot buy character, you cannot rush character, and you cannot contrive it. It is not formed while lying on the beach or scheming one’s way to the top; it is formed through perseverance, which implies facing some form of difficulty.



Generally speaking, our wider culture does not embrace difficulty and suffering as vehicles of growth, but rejects them as impositions to our freedom and happiness, whether you’re an accountant, a shopkeeper or a public leader.



We don’t naturally love to suffer, nor to persevere, yet, there is—in the hidden mysteries of God—a glory that comes when we yield, a hope that is produced, and a love that is poured out in our hearts. Humbly let’s remember the oak tree and grow.



Mercedes McGuire is Jubilee Centre Supporter Relations and Operations Officer.



This article first appeared on the Jubilee Centre website and was republished with permission.



[1] The Economist, June 22nd 2019, Bagehot | The Plato Test



[2] 1 Timothy 2:1-4



[3] Eugene Peterson


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Public leaders and the slow formation of character
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
VIDEO Video
 
A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees

Thousands still cross the border to Colombia every week, and many continue on foot into the interior. Christian young people have set up an aid station along the road.

 
What are some biblical models of social and political reformers? What are some biblical models of social and political reformers?

“As Christians today, we live in a Babylon of our own, but we can be morally distinctive and obedient to Christ”, Peter Saunders, CEO Christian Medical Fellowship, says.

 
How has Christianity influenced the modern world? How has Christianity influenced the modern world?

Paul Copan, Chair of Philosophy and Ethics of Palm Beach Atlantic University, explains how many key features of Western civilization, are the legacy of the biblical faith being lived out by believers in society.

 
GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration” GWF in Manila: “Kingdom building requires global collaboration”

850 from 108 countries met for the Global Workplace Forum, June 25-29. The gathering was organised by the Lausanne Movement. “Every workplace is a place of ministry”.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.