Saturday, June 3, 2023

The leader is always the problem. . .

It would seem that the leader is always the problem -- at least he gets the blame for the problems.  The reality is far more complex and hard to fit into a sound byte or capture in the momentary attention span of a nation that thinks a meme is a weighty discourse.

It might not fit the political image but I doubt that much would change if Biden were to step aside in favor of a conservative President.  That is not because the leader does not count.  It is because the leader does not have the magical resources to fix all the things for which he is blamed.  Much of what was wrong on the political scene was wrong before Biden was inaugurated.  Even before Trump.  Yes, and even before Obama and Bush.  We invest a great deal of mythology in the idea of leadership and one of them is that a leader can turn the great ship of America around on a dime.  He can't.  We are pretty much set up to be disappointed because we think a leader will fix everything that is wrong when most of the things that are wrong are closer to us than to the White House.  Of course, a good leader helps and a bad leader hurts but to fix what ails America requires many people working together from the ground floor on up the food chain, so to speak.  It does not help to fix the problems by bouncing back and forth from one party to another.  It literally means we are treading where we have already trod. 

The same is true of a church body.  Pope Francis could die or retire and someone else very different be elected and most of the problems in Rome would remain.  They are institutional problems.  Does anyone really think that a different pope will stop the closing of churches or their consolidation or prop up mass attendance or fill the seminaries?  A good pope can help make some progress and a bad one can stall the improvement a bit but the trajectory of Rome was set along time ago and it would be a miracle if anyone could fix it now.  But a bunch of folks from the pews on up the hierarchy could.  That is the problem.  They are not all on the same page.

This is Missouri's silly season and now a group of folks has sent out a letter thinking it is time for a change (does that line sound familiar?) and are offering up their support to another candidate to oppose the incumbent.  If you read the letter (written largely by the gray haired retirees from leadership in Missouri) you get the idea that if the new guy where elected, all our problems would fade away.  We would no longer have conflict, be contentious, have an older membership, have problems with our universities, etc...  We would be instantly happy, healthy, hopeful, and healed.  Gosh, it sounds wonderful, doesn't it?  But that is the problem.  All of our problems will not magically disappoint because we elected the incumbent or his opponent.  That is because we are some of our own problems.  It would take a movement from the pews on up through the hierarchy to fix Missouri's problems and it would take a generation before a sign of that improvement showed up on the statistics we love to worship.  A new guy is not going to make us respect or appreciate one another.  The leader is always the problem but hardly ever the real solution.  Every new Synodical President has been a savior of our Synod until they too became the problem.  People, look in the mirror.  There is the problem.  We are our own worst enemies.  Another talking head will not fix what ails us.  We need repentance, radical faith, and faithful devotion to the things of God.  The turnaround, if it comes, will start not at the so-called Purple Palace but in the pews where you and I live every week.

1 comment:

Carl Vehse said...

"This is Missouri's silly season and now a group of folks has sent out a letter thinking it is time for a change"

Even though it is probably time for a change, this "group of folks" are the last people to listen to about an endorsement.

It's too bad that the expanded list of candidates doesn't include "None of the above."

Or better still, allow each congregation to cast a positive or a negative vote for a candidate. The candidate with the most positive (or least negative) vote total wins.