October 27, 2008

Leadership Succession

            In a little over a week, American citizens will elect a new president. While all will be relieved that the exhausting campaign season will be over (well, all but the pundits and Saturday Night Live impersonators), persons on both sides of the political aisle will be concerned about the adroitness of the new leader who must face a welter of grave economic and political concerns.

            The lectionary reading from Deuteronomy 34 narrates the transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Moses could only lead the people so far; now it was up to his successor to take them on to the land of promise, fulfilling God’s pledge to the people. Joshua takes up this charge with trepidation because of Moses’ legacy: “Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (v. 10). Every leader has a season, whether political, pastoral, or institutional.  Certain aspirations will not be realized, and the successor must chart a pathway that expresses both appropriate continuity and corrective measures.

            Scripture teaches that we are to respect and pray for earthly leaders, yet remember the responsibility of dissent when conscience is violated. At times, faith and citizenship align closely; often they are at odds, and we feel the constraints of living in “two kingdoms,” as Martin Luther argued. I pray that the balloting process will be marked by integrity and that our sorely divided nation will unite behind our duly elected leader. May God grant him three essential gifts necessary for effective leadership: wisdom, compassion, and patience.


No comments:

Post a Comment