The race for the Republican nomination for President is beginning to take shape. Newt Gingrich is running without admitting he is running due to the legal questions. Michelle Bachman is in as is Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, and Herman Cain. Others who might take a dip in the Republican presidential pool are Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and maybe Mike Pence. It’s anyone’s guess what Donald Trump will do but whatever he does you can bet the main beneficiary will be…. Donald Trump.
With so many candidates to choose from why do so many conservatives feel like a brown shoe at a tuxedo convention? All of the potential Republican contenders bring unique gifts to the electoral table. The problem is, not one of them really ignites the imagination or inspires the soul. Newt has the intellect and the big ideas necessary to solve the big problems we face as a country. But two failed marriages and a list of policy shifts over the years leaves him with enough baggage to fill a boxcar. Mike Huckabee has the charisma and the fire but the question remains can he win decisively anywhere other than the South.
Ron Paul will get all six percent of the Libertarian vote. Mitt Romney is trying to remain afloat with “Romneycare” chained to his back. Michelle Bachman has proved she can sway the tea partiers but she will have to bring some moderates to the party to win. Haley Barbour has the political connections and plenty of fund raising clout but he is considered by many to be too much of party insider with just a touch too much swagger to attract a sizeable independent following.
Buddy Roemer, Mike Pence, and Herman Cain have voters singing the Pete Townshend classic, “Who Are You” and Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty both appear to be on a treadmill. They are both in good shape and running hard but making no headway. That leaves us with Sarah Palin and, well, don’t get me started.
What are all these good candidates lacking? Not one of them exudes leadership. They all have strong qualities of leadership but none of them immediately rise to the top when you picture a strong leader who can be a genuine difference maker.
In my last column, I began a series on the nine qualities found in great leaders. I put forth idea that great leadership begins with the righteousness that comes from a right relationship with Christ. It is maintained by perseverance and it inspires others through courage. In this column, I want to explore three more characteristics found in all great leaders.
First, great leaders must demonstrate a deep level of commitment to a set of core values. Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and H will do it.” A great leader who is committed to the ways of God will find wisdom and strength of character along the way. A firm commitment to God’s ways will produce works that will stand. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.” Most of us approach our works from the wrong direction. Often we will establish a plan and then work to achieve a goal. God’s Word says if we commit our works to the Lord the plan will come together.
Second, great leaders act decisively. They are not cast about by the wind of public opinion nor are they led by the lure of political expediency. They understand the choices that are set before them and they are able to weigh options using the scale of wisdom and experience to come to a timely and tested decision. Joshua called the Hebrews to, “choose for yourselves today whom you will serve”(Joshua 24:15). Joshua called the people to join him in his right decision to serve the Lord. The prophet Elijah stood alone on Mt. Carmel in the face of overwhelming odds that were stacked against him and yet he challenged the people to stop wavering between two opinions. He called them to choose to serve the one true God. When a great leader is pressed by a problem that pushes him to the wall he acts decisively and calls those who are following him to join him in the decision.
Third, all great leaders do more than just get out front and call others to fall in line. They lead by inspiring others to want to follow. The Apostle Paul demonstrated inspirational leadership in the life of Timothy, his son in the ministry. Paul’s love for Timothy was inspiring because it was sincerely expressed. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy”(2 Timothy 1:4b). How that expression of love must have inspired and encouraged Timothy! Paul also offered Timothy inspiration by reminding him of his heritage of faith and the gifts that God had given him for ministry (2 Tim. 1:5-7).
Leaders are committed to a set of core values from which they will not waver. They make bold, decisive decisions based on those values in a timely fashion. Through their unwavering commitment and decisiveness they inspire their followers thus winning their confidence.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and the Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina, Dr. Tony Beam received his Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and his Doctor of Ministry from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.