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A true leader earns respect because what they accomplish is important and meaningful. In the political arena, a leader must not be chosen merely because of a charismatic personality, rhetorical skill or name recognition. He or she should not be chosen based on a claim of “believing the right things.” It is important to believe the truth, but it is not enough. A true leader must be able to inspire people to build on those principles.
In the summer of 1980 as the United States faced the Soviet Union (an enemy committed to our destruction) and one of the most serious recessions since the Great Depression, I helped organize a very important meeting based upon principles. It was called the “National Affairs Briefing.” Over 17,000 people from across the country attended, widely representing the community of faith. The coliseum was filled with people who believed that the Bible contains the principles that have proven to be the solid rock foundation upon which to build lives, families and futures. Many well known Christian leaders spoke and attended.
On the closing night, I spoke just before Ronald Reagan, who was the Republican nominee for president at that time. During my message, I turned to him and said, “Sir, if you will stand by the principles that made this nation great, we will be your greatest friend. If you forsake those principles, we can prove to be your greatest nightmare.”
Mr. Reagan stood in agreement as the crowd erupted into applause. Reagan not only stood by those principles, but artfully utilized his conviction and oratorical skill to inspire our nation and the free world to hold fast to the principles that enabled America to become the most powerful and influential nation in the history of the world. He faced down a deadly enemy, ended the Cold War, and set the economy in motion for recovery, stability and prosperity that continues today. Thank God for his leadership. Thank God for people of principle from all political parties, races and communities who kept him in this critical leadership role for eight years.
We need this type of strong, principled leadership today -- someone who not only stands for principles, but one who can inspire others to stand for them. This is the most important role that a president can fulfill. We must always view government as limited in power and a servant of the people, rather than the provider of all needs. Reagan pointed out the importance of never forgetting that government is not the enabler of people, but rather people enable the government.
Yet today there are those who espouse a socialistic Robin Hood philosophy to take from the rich and give to the poor. If any individual did this, we would call it stealing. When the government does it, we call it “appropriation” or “taxation.” We call it “paying their fair share” when successful people and companies contribute a grossly disproportionate amount of money to fund government handouts. But we must remember that you never make the weak stronger by making the strong weaker.
Even on the mission field when we feed the hungry and give clean water to the thirsty, we immediately begin to teach the recipients personal responsibility. As they gain health and strength, they are taught to work and care for others around them. This is true compassion and charity, not entitlements and certainly not socialism.
Charity could rightly be considered a social issue, but throwing dollars at the needy without education and compassion amounts to waste. People must be charitable, loving and, most importantly, connected to the needy. On the mission field, the recipients of aid never act like they are owed or entitled to anything. Instead, there is a feeling of amazement and gratitude that someone noticed them and cared enough to help.
The United States of America has been great because of the unshakeable principles established by truly principled men who wrote and, when necessary, amended the Constitution for the benefit of all. We desperately need leaders today who are not only convinced that their principles are right, but who can also be convincing in their leadership role. Leaders must communicate effectively the importance of certain principles and the potential of some belief systems to hinder and hurt the productivity of the nation and limit individual freedoms and opportunities.
These are sobering days as we face serious threats, not only from the outside, but from within. We need to pray for leaders who understand that government possesses nothing that it does not first take from the people, and that its primary role should be protecting individual rights, maintaining security and dealing with lawlessness through a system of justice based upon principle. Presently, we are unquestionably a polarized nation. Sadly, much of the polarization is determined by foolish partisanship, rather than sound, unshakable principles. It is time not only to stand and hold fast to that which is true, but to get on our knees before God and pray for our nation, the free world and third-world countries in need of compassion and care.
Thomas Nelson publishers will release my book The Soul of a Nation in the spring. I deal with principled and spiritual issues of concern and call for 30 days of focused prayer. As I have said many times, concentrated prayer on the part of concerned people is like forcing the power of a river through a mighty turbine. And remember, when light is focused as a laser, it can cut through steel. The energy produced has the power and potential of lighting a city. God knows this nation needs leadership that will help us recognize and walk in that light.
Pray for God’s guidance, intervention and wisdom concerning the decisions that will be made this year and the leaders who will be chosen. Remember, God often gives us leaders after our own heart. We must have the heart and wisdom of God to recognize and elect principled leaders. Thank you for joining with Betty and me in prayer concerning our future and our leadership.
Author: James Robison
Word Count: 1075
About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.
Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.