Leadership Lesson from the Trump Administration

wh-pressThe Trump administration has certainly moved with great effort and rapidity since taking office. I usually do not comment on political issues as such, but I was caught by one item that I could not shake.

The issue is the temporary halt to refugees and/or immigrants from seven specific countries. Many have labeled this a Muslim ban. Many have taken issue with that characterization. I am not going to comment on the policy decision in and of itself, but rather how the administration has reacted to the responses to it.

First, I am amazed that the administration would use the “lemmings” defense for justification of the executive order. This is also knows in my house as the “six-year-old” defense. It goes like this:

Everyone else is doing it. Why can’t we?

Rather than make a decision and stick to it, the administration pointed to all of the other administrations that have also enacted similar policies to try and justify its actions. This is actually not the mark of strong leadership. (I was also amazed at how the Obama team won its first election on the “Bob the Builder” platform of Yes we can!, but that is for another time.)

Actually, this response shows the real leadership lesson I wanted to point out. When a leader makes a decision, it is not just the decision itself that is debated or analyzed. It is the perceived character or intention behind the decision that is debated. The fact that other administrations may or may not have made similar decisions and did not face the same repercussions in the public sphere is exactly the point. It is not just the policy that is in question, it is the intention and character of the person creating the policy that is the concern.

For leaders at any level in any organization, whether it is civil service or the church, our character matters. Our character matters even more than our decisions at times. This is because we can make all the right decisions our entire lives, but if people suspect our character of being self-serving or antagonistic or hateful, they will not agree with the decisions on principle.

The Trump administration has reminded me of this leadership lesson every time I turn on the news. My character counts in my leadership and my decision making.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Polarization Damages the Church

conservative-liberal-281x300In America we are seeing the increasing polarization of our country. This is especially clear in this election year. The polarization, though, is not just in politics. It is in the Church.

The right/left divide is harming the Church in subtle ways. Christians who are on the left of social issues mistrust Christians on the right, and vice versa. We now have a Church culture where people who advocate for evangelizing and converting others are suspicious of the motives of those who want to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Those who want to help the immigrant and foreigner among us are wary of those who adamant about the fundamentals of the faith.

Christians paint caricatures of each other as either being so open-minded their brains fall out or so closed-minded that they want to establish a theocracy in the US. (Unfortunately, there are fringe groups on the extreme right and left that live up to these pictures, but the vast majority of Christians do not.)

Now, I do not believe that unity is a virtue that ought to be held no matter what anyone believes or how anyone acts. Denying the divinity of Christ is not Christian, nor is killing an abortion provider. But we in the Church have allowed the political polarization in our culture to affect us.

It is now uncommon to hear from the same Christian that we have a bounden duty to not only offer Christ to the lost, but to seek justice. We not only are called to proclaim the Name by which all may be saved and offer a cup of cold water in His Name. We are to care for the widow, orphan and loose the bonds of oppression as well as seek and save the lost.

We have a responsibility to care for the poor and to protect the unborn.

If Christians do not find ideas, policies, and platform points from both the right and the left with which they agree, they are not reading the whole Bible. If Christians do not find ideas, policies, and platform points from both the right and the left with which they disagree, they are not reading the whole Bible.

Put another way, Christians ought to equally offend the right and the left as we follow Jesus.

Think about this and listen carefully to what each side is saying, in politics and in the Church. You may be surprised by what you hear.