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Monday, July 07, 2008

Who Leaders Follow

King David, of Old Testament fame, is often referred to as an example of a good leader. People (including me) like to think of that fact that God called him a man after God's own heart. This is especially comforting when one thinks of some of the outrageous mistakes (sins) that King David committed during his lifetime. Still, he's the poster boy for good leadership. Why is that?

What is it about King David that made him a good leader, despite the mistakes (sins) he is also known for? Do those things just not really matter? We think of some of the leaders of our day and we can see some close parallels. They are known for their mistakes - often more than they are known for their virtues and accomplishments. Think of Bill Clinton, for example. It may be hard to think of his presidency without remembering Monica Lewinsky. Is she the sum of his presidency?

As I've studied King David across the Old Testament, and looked at New Testament leaders in comparison, I noticed something recently. It seemed like it shouldn't be a revelation. I wondered why it felt like such a breakthrough in wisdom. You see, the leaders we follow have a great impact on our lives. So in this election year, I fret a great deal about which leader I will follow. (You should too!) But I think I found the best clue in King David's leadership.

You see, King David's effectiveness directly corresponded to his awareness of God's leading in his own life. He was a good leader when he was following his Leader. And when he wasn't - well that's where the Monica Lewinsky scandals of this world make history. But perhaps what endeared David to God's heart was his willingness to repent and turn back to his Leader every time he strayed. More importantly, that may be the best indication of David's true leadership gifts and qualities.

So do I know whom my leaders are following? Even if I do, do I know when they are or aren't' following their Leader? I think that's maybe what troubles me about our presidential elections this year. You see, I acknowledge that Senators McCain and Obama have leadership gifts and abilities. They're both intelligent and capable. Some of the things they say make a lot of sense. But the problem is that I just don't know who they're following.

I've learned in life that no one can lead me in excellence like my Creator can. I've learned that change for the sake of change isn't always worthwhile. It's become apparent to me that lasting, positive change can only be accomplished when I'm following God. And ironically, change that I try to pull off myself - without God's leadership - tends to be very flat and unrewarding, if it is really change at all. I think it's like that for our country too.

The presidential nominees are talking about change. I think it's safe to say that we all want change. But does the average American voter really understand where meaningful change originates? Does the individual casting the vote for president really intend to follow the person they're voting for?

Finally, who does this leader follow --- and how well does this leader follow? That my friends, may be the best criteria for deciding whom to elect as our country's next president!

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