PRESIDENTIAL/PASTORAL LEADERSHIP PARALLELS
It is not news to anyone that we have recently come through the most vitriolic presidential campaign season ever, with demeaning attacks from both sides that have routinely been mostly personal and unrelated to providing solutions for the formidable problems we are facing as a nation. I recently went online and reviewed several lists of the primary responsibilities of our official head of state. I was struck by how the job priorities of the president and a pastoral leader of the church correlate. See if you agree:
Uphold the Constitution: The Constitution is the supreme law of the land in the United States. Upholding the Constitution is the essential vow embedded in the presidential oath of office. The pastoral leaders of the church of Jesus are bound to the similar priority of upholding the Bible, the revealed and written Word of God, both in their preaching and practice. Paul instructed Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” [I Tim. 4:16 NIV] and “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus… I give you this charge: Preach the Word…” [2 Tim. 4:1&2 NIV]
Unite the People: It has been many years since we have had a president who understood this responsibility to be vital. Our nation is more divided than ever politically, racially, economically and morally. Uniting the nation represents a high value, whether it is elevated and embraced, or not. Likewise, the apostle Paul directed the pastoral leaders of the church in Ephesus, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. There is one body…” [Eph. 4:3-4a NLT]
Responsible spiritual shepherds keep the flock of God together and knock themselves out to be an answer to the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane for those who believe in Him, “that all of them may be one.” [John 17:21 NIV]
Defend the Nation: The POTUS is responsible, as commander-in- chief, to lead the world’s most expensive military that also has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. This trust underlines the importance of defending the nation against our enemies. In the same way, Paul directed the Ephesian pastors to, “Guard yourselves and God’s people… shepherd God’s flock…” [Acts 20:28 NLT] and Peter’s charge to the ‘pastors among you’ is to, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.” [I Peter 5:2 NLT] These words command a militant vigilance by leaders to insure both the protection and pastoral care of the church.
As pastoral leaders, we must personalize the challenge from Paul to Archippus in Colossians 4:17, “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” It is arguably a work more important than the work of the highest office in the land. I personally resonate with the sentiment in the words of Phillips Brooks, “If you are called to preach, why stoop to be King?”.