Where have all the leaders gone?

Watching the events of the past few days reminds us that we are only one generation away from the demise of our culture. Worse than the rioting and looting is the fact that they are going unchecked.

Elected officials, perhaps fearing they will be accused of racism or insensitivity, repeatedly have issued “Stand Down” orders to local law enforcement. Citizens have good reason to wonder why.

When, fresh out of college, I became a public school teacher, two realities hit me like twin lightning bolts. One was that if you expected tenth graders to study poetry, you had better be prepared to explain why. The other was that classroom learning requires classroom order.

While I was convinced that I might pass on my own enthusiasm for Frost, Sandburg, Dickinson, and Browning, it was less clear how I would keep them quiet and focused long enough to turn to page 36.

Thankfully, there was plenty of good advice to be had in the teachers’ lounge from career educators, who explained that the first thing I had to do was to convince myself that I was in charge. When you close the door behind you, the class discovers quickly whether you are or not.

Sadly, many mayors, city councils, and even governors don’t seem to have grasped this reality. How strange it is that these same people, now paralyzed by and even taking orders from a mob, just a few days before, were acting very much in charge when they were issuing arbitrary COVID-19 directives to compliant, unquestioning citizens.

Why the stark contrast? For one thing, facing a mob, you can’t hide behind “The Science.” For another, it’s just easier to re-image the scene and call the rioters “protesters” and the looters, “activists.” And just that quickly, everyone discovers who is in charge.

The history of Israel rose and fell on the integrity of their leadership, not its raw force. There were several kings who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” But in the end, they were not enough to save the nation from short-sighted leaders who either were intimidated by crisis, blinded by pride, or both.

It remains to be seen if our own leaders can recover from their present humiliation and restore order. Let’s pray they can and will. “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!” Judges 5:2

“Father, we thank you for the gift of government and leadership, and ask you to bring about righteousness in the decisions of our officials, and raise up courageous, compassionate, and principled leaders, in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

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