Choosing The Right Leader

By Dr. Ron Jenson

Hi! Ron here from beautiful Palm Desert, California. I’m out here staying at a friend’s home in a beautiful location, and I’ve had some great meetings this week with a group called CONVENE, which is an outstanding organization that services Christian business leaders around the world. I’m getting ready to go to a wonderful time with my daughter at Stagecoach, a country music festival which follows Coachella. Molly sings in a group called the Sam Outlaw Band. She’s the female vocalist and Sam’s the lead guy vocalist and they’ve just finished a tour of Europe. They’re going to have a great time singing here. In fact, Carrie Underwood is singing later tonight and I’m looking forward to hearing her as well.

So I’m out here spending some time reflecting, watching the news, particularly the political situation and what’s going on today. It’s made me think about the question that many of my friends ask me in North America and that is, how do we choose the right person to vote for? I mean there are pros and cons for everyone, of course, and it depends on your worldview. But assuming you have a worldview that’s basically a Judeo-Christian ethic worldview, you’re going to have a sense of those elements, those qualities, those policies that are critical to you. Certainly those values. And we ought to vote for people, obviously, who are supporting our core values.

Here’s the fourfold grid that I’m always thinking about with leadership overall. I use it to determine who I would best want to have represent us as the president of the United States, or in any other office, whether it be political or educational or business or any profession. And here are the four things you might want to think about. Basically, it’s their Competence, Commitment, Chemistry. And then there’s Character. Now let me unpack those briefly.

First, I like to look at a person’s competence. Obviously you don’t want anyone in leadership or someone representing you who is not competent, and that means getting the job done. Think of the role of the presidency in this case, and think of the elements that are needed where a person needs to be competent in a certain way to get things done, and choose that kind of person. Frankly, I think we’ve struggled with that in Washington D.C. We’ve had gridlock. So competence becomes a big issue. It’s the ability to move us forward to work with the leadership and to be a strong advocate, a leader, a facilitator, someone who can get the work done with other people. So, one is competence.

Two is commitment. Obviously you want engaged people who are passionate and who are committed to stick with it, who are going to give 100 percent to their job while they’re in office. Commitment becomes a big deal and you pay a heavy price in any leadership role. The presidency is absolutely overwhelming. We watched Barack Obama, as most other presidents before him, prematurely graying just by being in office. It’s an incredibly stressful job. So, you want committed people.

The third thing you want is chemistry. Chemistry is the ability to work with people. It’s the ability to relate to people, to engage people, to involve them, to serve them, to build them up, to hold them accountable. It’s that relational aspect. I like what one author said: “In the right key you can say anything, in the wrong key nothing. The delicate part of life is establishing the key.” So you want to think about the leader you vote for and say, can that person establish the right key? Can they work collectively with people? Can they cut deals with people as you have to do in the political realm? And then, will they be likable, will people engage with them? Will they work with them? Will they have a relationship with them? Will they be committed, at least, to work together? Will they feel honored and respected and built up? That becomes critical in chemistry.

Then the fourth thing is character. That’s certainly the most important from my viewpoint. You want people in positions of influence, people of character who have a life lived from the inside out. They’re principle driven. That means they have integrity. That means their word is their bond. Character has to do with hard work. It has to do with graciousness. It has to do with honoring people. It has to do with certainly honoring God, and having a real understanding that they have a higher authority. It’s an inside-out kind of living. A person of character does not act one way externally and live somewhere else internally.

Someone said, personality is what we are in public; character is what we are in private. And we want people who are people of character, who are living lives that are honorable, and the right kind of life. So you need to make the choice. Those are the four things I’d use as my grid. Are they competent? Are they committed? Are they good at chemistry? And do they have the right character? And, of course, as believers, do they have godly character?

 

I look forward to hearing what kind of choice you make going forward and how you grapple with these things.

Thanks! From Ron signing off from Palm Desert, California.