As this commentary is being put together, the Republican National Convention of 2012 has ended and the Democratic Convention is beginning. For months now the news has been filled with charges, countercharges, promises, programs, images and slogans of the various candidates vying for the most powerful governmental office on earth—the office of president of the United States.
The less popular candidates have gradually dropped by the wayside, and the two major parties have selected their standard-bearers to battle for control of the nation for the next four years. In the weeks leading up to the election in November, Americans are going to be deluged with political messages as to why they should choose one candidate over the other. Most of the messages will be little more than bumper sticker slogans with little actual substance. Many messages will focus on why Americans should vote against one side rather than why they should favor the other side.
Most of us know people who will mindlessly cast their vote for one party or the other with little actual consideration for the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.
Many more will make their selections based upon specific issues that are important to them—issues like healthcare and jobs and taxes. Others will consider issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, environmentalism and energy development. All of these are important issues, but is a person’s stand on a single issue really the standard we should use in determining who our leaders should be?
One of the most famous leaders of ancient times was a man named Moses. There came a time when Moses needed to select others to help in leading and governing the nation, and his father-in-law gave him some timeless advice on what kind of men make good leaders. He told Moses, “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials” (Exodus 18:21, New International Version).
What would it be like to live in a nation led by competent men who, first of all, stood in awe of God; whose words were worthy of trust; who were not motivated by the selfish accumulation of power and wealth; and who passionately hated dishonesty in themselves and their subordinates? Wouldn’t their political party be pretty much irrelevant?
But where can we find men like that? Do they even exist in today’s partisan landscape?
There’s an even more important question than that. Is it really fair to ask our leaders to meet those characteristics if we aren’t living up to them ourselves? When you look in the mirror, do you see a person who conducts himself or herself by those standards in every facet of life? We may have little to say about the kind of political candidates the major parties put before us, but we all have the power to choose what kind of person we will be.
Will Americans use this quadrennial election process to select a leader who can lead us to success and safety? As long as we continue to choose our leaders for the wrong reasons, they will continue to lead us in the wrong direction.
We actually have little to say about the direction the nation chooses, but every one of us has the power—and the God-given responsibility—of choosing the right standards of leadership in our own lives.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m David Johnson.