A Crisis of Leadership

Today in the “Screens” section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was an article by media critic Joe Williams. Its beginning caught my attention:

Before a recent preview screening of the superhero satire “Hancock,” an emcee asked several audience members to name their biggest hero.

Most of them just shrugged. A few people mentioned their parents, two said Jesus Christ and one joker cited the Incredible Hulk. But nobody named and American public figure, past or present. No athlete or actor, no Obama or McCain.

While I would fault no one from citing their parents or Jesus Christ as heroes, that couple of paragraphs reminded me of some discussions had during the recent LCG Pastoral Conference. Dr. Winnail stressed the fact that the world seems to be in a crisis of leadership. What leaders around us today would anyone point to as a real example of leadership — an example for the ages? The title of author John W. Stanko’s book, So Many Leaders… So Little Leadership, seems to succinctly describe the age in which we live.

The world in such a desperate need to hear from real leaders, yet in the face of such need the silence is deafening. Not that the world is silent. In a YouTube-filled, blogging-from-birth world, there are more voices than ever. But how many are saying anything worth listening to? How many voices out there are of a nature to stir others to real action, ready to turn the world upside down (cf. Acts 17:6) — or, rather, right side up? Our TV shows us a virtual parade of characters, but how much actual character do we see on it?

Perhaps most frightening to me is the potential for such vacuums to be filled with predators rather than leaders. When Hitler and Mussolini came along, they were accepted because, among other things, they fulfilled certain needs and longings. Again, I am reminded of the oft-quoted comment from Dr. Paul-Henri Spaak of Belgium, one of the true “founding fathers” of what is now the European Union (and what is prophesied to be so much more):

“We do not want another committee, we have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all the people and to lift us up out of the economic morass into which we are sinking. Send us such a man, and whether he be God or devil, we will receive him.”

Personally, I believe the current state of affairs will continue to create in many people a similar longing. Who will show up on the world scene to satisfy that longing is, I think, yet to be seen.

UPDATE 1:  I have written a follow up post here.

UPDATE 2:  Someone has questioned the veracity of the Spaak quote, and I want to acknowledge that question here. I’ve dug for a bit, and I cannot find a primary source for that quote.  Though I’ve come across plenty of secondary sources, I’m uncomfortable just letting it stand with that.  Does anyone out there know of a primary source?

8 thoughts on “A Crisis of Leadership

  1. Dave Machanick

    I find myself at night thinking about what I would do if I was President.
    One of the chief things I would do is focus on the fuel crisis.
    Attack on all fronts – drill more oil wells, buy vans from our ailing car manufacturers and use for ride sharing (like some cities are doing now), massive research on better fuel economy and funding of new engines (cheaper than fighting wars).
    Would also focus on bringing manufacturing back to this country. The nation that cannot feed and clothe itself has no security.
    Force all politiacians off their government pension plans on to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. They don’t feel our pain right now.
    Unfortunately all we hear are words and empty promises.
    The only places where there is decisive leadership is on some sport teams and in some businesses.

  2. Deano

    I think “crisis of leadership” is probably an understatement. It seems the whole world is blinded by greed. “Tell them anything they think they want to hear so we can get what we want”.

    Then there is the problem of everyone wanting what they want so there can be no unity. How can there be real leadership if everyone is always fighting among themselves and those who disagree with the leader, have the power to stop anything the he does were he a sound minded leader? It seems there has to be some good followship too.

    It seems that the majority of the leaders in our world are plagued with short sightedness – no real vision – no big picture – just, “What do I have to say to get what I want right now?”

    It’ll sure be nice when Revelation 19:11-16 becomes reality.

  3. Alex


    I appreciated the commentary on leadership.

    I have thought about it a lot lately. Only One fits the bill – God speed that day.

  4. Cheryl

    I would have to say is that one of my heros is John Adams. As one of my traditions on this God given day is to read or watch the history of the birthing of this Nation. Our forefathers were great men and leaders. What made them so? They had a vision. They believed in God. They were driven by a purpose. They were men of character. Did they make mistakes, sure they did, they were not perfect.
    When you truly study the men and women who sacrificed everything for this struggling nation, you truly see what leaders should be. Did they baulk the system ( i.e. British tyranny) YES. Was this popular with all the people, No. But they knew that God had a greater plan for them. That is why God gave us great leaders as George Washington, Samual Adams, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin etc.
    What I find truly sad, is if any of those men were to come back today, they would be truly sadden. For I don’t know if they would be shocked or not. For they knew the only way for this government to work, was to have God at the top, and guiding the way.
    But for as our leaders today? God said He would curse us if we forgot His Commandments and His ways. Deut 23
    God speed the day when all leaders are purfect and our older Brother, Jesus Christ our King truly rules this earth

  5. Pingback: A Crisis of Leadership: Follow Up « Thoughts En Route

  6. rakkav

    The irony (replying to some of Cheryl’s thoughts) is that John Adams, much more than even his friend Thomas Jefferson, foresaw the potential problems with lack of character that could bring down the nation. Jefferson (despite his famous comments about God’s justice not sleeping forever) naively thought that “the truth of our religion” would win out over error if the government simply stayed out of the way of free debate (cf. his Bill for Religious Freedom in Virginia, the true predecessor to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution). Adams had far less faith in human nature than that.

    Adams famously said that unrestrained human nature would tear through the Constitution’s guarantees like a whale through a net, and that the Constitution was fit only for a moral and religious people. But that insight still misses the point. A moral and religious people can make any governmental system work well enough, but that of itself does not make any given system the best system, let alone a Godly system.

    I have come to believe that the whole idea of our republic being “one nation under God” is a false religion in is own right, and that it’s something that Americans need to repent of. For that reason, I can no longer count any of the Founding Fathers among my personal heros, despite the relative greatness of their gifts and their character (which I deeply respect). This is because ALL the Founding Fathers had a fundamental and fatal flaw in their thinking: the idea that they could have a nation based on Christian ethics (essentially, the Ten Commandments) apart from Christian government (theocracy or at worst theocratic monarchy, which is precisely what they were overreacting against). You cannot maintain the first apart from the second — human nature in Satan’s world won’t let you. But they could not or would not come to grips with that fact, precisely because of all the false church-state combines they knew of throughout history (but strangely underplaying the one true combine, that of ancient Israel).

    Frankly, we wouldn’t be in the crisis of leadership we are now were it not for this very fatal flaw. Republics (almost as much as “pure” democracies) have a way of bringing everyone down to the same low level, save the tyrant who then tends to take them over (cf. C.S. Lewis’ comments on this matter).

    God’s form of government is not republicanism (whether congressional or parlimentary), but theocracy. The very republican institutions that are designed to restrain the abuse of power by humans are the very institutions that keep God and His ability to work through humans to promote good and correct evil at arm’s length. God can use a republic *despite itself* to accomplish certain ends (such as granting people the ability to take advantage of the physical and spiritual blessings given to Abraham with minimum interference), but if you want to see how republics die, then take a look at Revelation 3:15-22 (and that’s when *converted* people run them, let alone *carnal* people).

  7. Greetings, Mr. Wheeler —

    While I agree with you about the error of our Founding Fathers, I don’t know that I would remove some of them from my “personal hero” pedestal as you have. If I removed everyone from that place for fundamental flaws of thought, it would be a bare pedestal, indeed! (Save, of course, for one Occupant.) For them to have made the necessary leap of logic and faith we are discussing given their education, culture, exposure to world history, etc. is almost unimaginable for me.

    For them to have “come to grips with that fact” would have been like miraculously circling the write answer on a multiple choice exam, when the write answer is not among the choices given. (A horrible analogy, but all I can come up with at the moment, and I am feeling too lazy to think of another — but not too lazy to write unnecessarily long, descriptive parenthetical statements.)

    Great insights! Thanks, muchos.

  8. Pingback: So, Miss California agrees with President Obama… « Thoughts En Route

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