CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Where Are All the Leaders?

Mar 31, 2018

Leadership is in short supply nowadays – at least good leadership. There are plenty of leaders, but very few strong, principled, reliable and honest leaders. Corrupt and derelict leadership abounds, but decent leadership that can inspire people and result in good outcomes for most folks seems to have disappeared.

I have not bothered to write about one such leadership crisis which has all of Australia talking, and much of the world as well. And it was not about political leadership but mere sports leadership. Yet in a nation that has far more people worshiping at a sports ground each week than in a Christian church, this has become massive news.

The cricket ball-tampering scandal is still being talked about everywhere, even though the story is now a week old. Front page headlines are still all about it, with the latest being Warner’s press conference this morning and another show of tears. Whether his tears and those of others are real or not may be a moot point.

So far four major scalps have been taken over this debacle. Sure, some are just for a period, and we may see some of these four back in action in a year or so. But the South African episode will forever remain a scar in Australian sporting history.

And whether the displays of sorrow and the asking of forgiveness is merely because they were caught in the act, or because they see the seriousness of their wrongdoing is an open question. Hopefully some of the tears we have seen, as with captain Steve Smith, was genuine remorse and a real display of acknowledging the wrong that was done.

And from a Christian point of view, we know that often a major crisis in a person’s life can lead them to really examine their priorities, and hopefully get into right relationship with God. We should pray for all these men and hope that they do indeed come to Christ and find new life in him.

And of course one can repeat the words of various commentators as to why we have made so much about a game, when political leaders seem to get away with murder every week, yet we hear next to nothing about that. Our values and priorities as a nation seem to be rather twisted indeed.

One newspaper article that appeared today offered some wise words on all this and is worth quoting from. Patrick Smith had a terrific piece entitled “Ball-tampering scandal: Lack of leadership spreads rot through the nation”. He is quite right to see the big picture here, and remind us of the failure of leadership that is all around us.

Concerning the actual cheating he writes:

As the news broke, the story spread across the globe marginally quicker than reports that Kim Kardashian gorged on two sticks of celery that morning. But rightly, most of the cricket reaction was outrage. There were some outliers in nincompoop land. One commentator said the hysteria made no sense to him, it was only ball-tampering after all and then followed that up with a question along the lines of, by the way, “what is ball-tampering?” Out, caught credibility, bowled pomposity.

This was more than a single example of ball-tampering: for example, Mike Atherton. This was the captain and the vice-captain conspiring and instigating a serious, hopefully clandestine, breach of the rules. It was a treachery to defraud the game of cricket, to win by cheating. To shame a nation. To disrespect the game. That is the very top man Smith, down through the second most important team member in his vice-captain Warner to the bottom of the batting order of power, Bancroft, the latest man added to the Test team. From the very top to the very bottom. Culture, what culture?

But then he goes on to look at the bigger picture, and he is spot on with his analysis:

Apart from the money, in bundles so big it could not fit in their travel bags, the players seemingly had no role models, no one to show how mature men and women handle themselves in deteriorating circumstances. In truth, Smith and Warner had no idea how to lead. Not a twig of an idea and we said so the day before the last Test. Voila.

But that paucity of leadership has gradually rotted just about every team in every sport. The way our federal and state politicians act points to a few tracks of redemption but none are reliable and certainly none trod by our pollies.

Watch the so-called leaders of this nation and you will see only this: a group of gluttonous men and women who flip and flop, not on principles but the search for power. Vanity and self-importance. Two days in the news. All this is creating a very ordinary nation. Timid, without vision but prepared to get what they want with no consideration of the ramifications. That is the Australian cricket team; perfectly shaded representatives of modern Australia.

It is time for us to set the future parameters, to uphold standards the politicians are too scared of just in case it might lock them out of power. In this we could all lead the way, demand change and seek honesty from those who represent us in politics or in sport.

And the church as well

But it is not just in the political world and the sporting world that we see a crisis in leadership. Sadly we see it all over the place in our churches as well. It seems cancerous leadership is rife in so much of the Christian world alas. Let me offer just two brief examples of this.

Ten years ago J. Lee Grady wrote an important critique of the charismatic and Pentecostal churches – a movement he is a part of. You can see my review of The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale here: billmuehlenberg.com/2010/07/02/a-review-of-the-holy-spirit-is-not-for-sale-by-j-lee-grady/

Here I want to feature just a tiny portion of that book: “The truth is that this current generation of church leadership has rendered itself powerless when facing the Goliath of sexual compromise. . . . The church’s leadership has become a demonic nest of unspeakable immorality”. And here he was limiting his remarks mainly to the charismatic world, not to all of the church.

My second example of this comes from some recent Christian headlines. I seem to have gotten myself on the Christianity Today email list, and it seems once a week they list some of the latest articles they feature. The email that came yesterday offered 12 such articles, but I noticed that a full third of them were about leadership failure in the church! The four cases were as follows:

-Frank Page Resigns over ‘Morally Inappropriate Relationship’
President and CEO of SBC Executive Committee confesses he “initially announced my retirement earlier today without a complete explanation.”

-Bill Hybels Accused of Misconduct by Former Willow Creek Leaders
John and Nancy Ortberg, others confront megachurch with its own #MeToo moment. “The charges against me are false,” says Hybels of former friends’ “collusion.”

-We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries
Allegations of child sexual abuse and staff cover-up continue to swirl. Let’s set an example for all churches to follow, bringing healing to victims and churches alike.

-#ChurchToo: Andy Savage Resigns from Megachurch over Past Abuse
Memphis pastor who faced backlash after standing ovation: “Apologies are important, but more is required.”

Wow, four out of twelve, and that is just one week’s worth of church headlines. No wonder the church is in such a mess. Leadership in the churches seems to be just as bad as in the world. While these headlines have to do with the American scene, we have had our share of church leadership failures and scandals in Australia as well.

It is said that people will get the leadership that they deserve. If that is the case we are in a very bad way indeed. Forget about the sporting leadership and its failings. When we have derelict and decrepit leaders in politics, and worse yet, in the churches, then we may well be under the judgment of God.

Lord have mercy.

www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/opinion/patrick-smith/balltampering-scandal-lack-of-leadership-spreads-rot-through-the-nation/news-story/f90b5eeae3e6580c9d2e087f2080e392

[1359 words]

14 Responses to Where Are All the Leaders?

  • Dear Bill, Thank you for the article. Indeed this world has no leaders of integrity worth talking about.

    In the case of the ball tampering by the Australian cricket team it reveals as much about the MSM than it does about the cricket players.Anyone with any common sense knows cricket is played by secularised men who quite possibly do not have clearly defined Christian values and in this case have stupidly caved in to the massive pressure put upon them to win at all costs.

    This is because the MSM over the decades has built the game up from a harmless gentleman’s game played on the village green for pleasure to a multi million dollar international contest which must be won at all costs.

    To say the Australian media’s reaction to the ball tampering has been disproportionate is putting it mildly.They have been obsessed with the issue for days now to the exclusion of all other issues much more newsworthy. Anyone would think that the culprits had committed murder for heaven’s sake! Their bullying has been absolutely disgusting!

    I was watching Mel Gibson’s film the Passion on Good Friday and the sheer thuggery by the Roman and Jewish leaders in that film was reminiscent of the thuggery shown by the MSM in the ball tampering issue except without the bloodshed and ghastly physical violence and the fact that the victims are not sinless like Jesus was.

    They are simply sinful men who stupidly caved into the temptation of cheating in order to win a game which the rich and powerful have elevated to a godlike status which must be worshipped by Australian society at all costs.

    Well, thank you very much we don’t all want to worship at the altar of the cricket pitch!

    Some of us still believe and have hope in the true religion which has been pushed to the margins of society by the same mob who is obsessed with the religion of cricket.Reporting on the holiest day on the Christian calendar has been reduced to a token minute or two.

    It is of no importance in this arrogant mob’s view.It was just some unimportant event which happened over two thousand years ago and is still believed in by the gullible and irrational. It is hardly worth a mention in these sophisticated, modern times.

    However, since we all have to die they will one day find out for themselves just how insignifiscent it really was.

  • Another answer to my prayers for integrity in all aspects of Australian public life.

    The most difficult prayer is for integrity in my own life, though.

  • Thanks, Bill. I posted something along the lines of believing that Smith and Bancroft were sincere in their apologies. I think that Bancroft is repentant. I don’t know that – only time will tell. I expressed a hope, and indeed made a plea, that there would be enough room for forgiveness to allow them the opportunity to mend and make a difference.

    The thing I left out of my comment on Facebook is the hope that all involved will come to faith in Christ, and through that true healing they can develop into true leaders and mentors. Such failing does not have to mean a useless life. I think of two men here – St. Paul and a more recent one – Chuck Colson.

    Meanwhile, your article is powerful and spot on. Keep up the consistently good work.

  • There are no decent leaders anywhere in the western sector. Conversely, there is strength seen in places like Hungary and Poland, where leaders are standing up for their people against the evil agendas of the EU. Britain has no leaders; just a set of power-hungry MPs all squabbling and fighting for the levers of control. Church hierarchy are going native every day. The small number of potential decent leaders that we have are swamped over, unable or unwilling to come forward and defend the nation. We ordinary peasants are utterly alone now, politically and morally.

  • Great article Bill. Here is my take from a Catholic perspective.

    Where are the leaders of the Catholic Church?

    Whenever I hear bishops speak of sexual abuse of children they often refer to it as ‘historical’ abuse. Are they suggesting that it is not happening now? I wonder how they would know that. Clearly the effect is still being felt.

    Of course, the paedophile priests in Australia who murder the souls of defenceless children, have received all the recent publicity. They will burn in hell together with those bishops who protected them. The person who mentions hell more than anyone else in the bible is the man from Galilee.

    There are some priests who violate their obligation to chastity by being sexually active with either males or females. They have no regard for biblical morality; they have lost their way. Each bishop has the responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the Catholics of his diocese. Should he trust priests like these to give sound spiritual guidance?

    The rot set in when they turned the altar to face the people. Many priests abused this new situation and became celebrities. They replaced Christ at the centre of the Mass. They told jokes, they sang, they danced, and a grieving Holy Spirit left the Sanctuary. Do we still have a valid Mass? The bishops were/are party to all this nonsense.

    At the closing Mass of the first Bathurst diocesan assembly celebrated by Bishop McKenna, everyone was there except the Holy Spirit. Before the Mass the crowd had, by unanimous applause, voted that gay couples would be welcomed into the church; biblical morality aside. The bishop remained silent.

    Far too often we hear a sermon on climate change or refugees or aboriginal land rights and an assortment of other political issues. The pulpit is for preaching the gospel. The bishop is responsible for whatever is preached.

    A few bad apples or a bad system? I suppose some bishops will justify spending large sums of diocesan money on renovating their personal residence or providing themselves with overseas trips or whatever. It seems part of the faith of some bishops to live like kings off unearned, diocesan funds, but I doubt the man who had nowhere to lay his head would be impressed.

    And what of Catholic education? How many Catholic children come out of the system affirming abortion, gay relationships, sex before marriage, divorce, euthanasia, all religions are the same, and a myriad of other practices and beliefs that offend Catholic doctrine? The bishop is ultimately responsible for what is taught in religious education in Catholic schools.

    Those bishops who have failed in their duty are responsible for the mess the church is in today. They failed to exercise their authority. They failed to show leadership.

  • Widespread outcry about cheating in a game is heartening in our increasingly valueless post-modern society. A bit hard to take, however, from a Prime Minister who so ruthlessly and unethically stabbed his God-honouring leader in the back (we await, with hope for the well-being of our country, Mr Turnbull’s honourable resignation as P.M., following his imminent 30th straight Newspoll loss – being the benchmark he himself set for leadership redundancy).

    The cry of our hearts, however, is where is the widespread outcry about 300 of our countrymen and women (who are awaiting being born) being brutally killed in hospitals across Australia every day. Fully a quarter of all babies in utero in our country are shockingly destroyed by doctors in Australia – all of which doctors have taken the Hippocratic Oath to protect human life. And so, requiring us all to fund through Medicare the brutal dismembering of 1/4 of our unborn in sophisticated state of the art, yet obviously morally sterile hospitals and clinics, our politicians open floodgates for immigration, with significant priority to very many who despise our rock-solid Judeo Christian heritage. May we all be faithful in prayer that our media and politicians will awake from their slumber regarding having resolutely turned their backs on our Almighty Creator God, and the horror of abortion, and stand up boldly to protect our defenceless unborn (which could have been you or me . . )!

  • Abandonment of Christianity itself, corruption of its doctrines, leadership not standing for THE TRUTH of God’s Word and distorted messages presented.
    Most ‘pastors’ are leading millions to hell with their own justification of sinful living.
    Where there is forgiveness, there is reconciliation.

  • The DUTY of Leaders is to lead; NOT to indulge in self-interest. But when so many do “what is right in their own sight” should the ‘plebs’ expect anything different? IF such is ‘Progress’, our country is ‘better’ without.

  • I have maintained this from the beginning. The Australians were very foolish but the real cause of this was de Kock who in a very cowardly manner revealed a silly act Warner’s wife committed in her youth. The level of persecution by the South Africans following this was similar to their Hyena mascot in pulling down prey. She did not deserve that neither did Warner and they need our prayers.

  • A good point Suzanna! Malcolm Turnbull brazenly cheated Tony Abott [the people’s choice]t out of his hard earned prime ministership and the MSM who assisted him in this treachery has the audacity to ask for a comment from him!

    There are many ways to cheat and thousands of unborn Australians HAVE been cheated out of the lives they could have had but for the pathetic bunch we call leaders who legalised abortion.

  • A bit of sandpaper on leather and the world wrings its hands. Cheating? Husbands do it. Finance institutions do it. Tax payers do it. Shoppers do it. It’s a problem on a massive scale.
    Yes, it’s not cricket, but let’s not mistake a mole hill for the mountain, the splinter for the plank.

  • There are plenty of more worrying things happening in South Africa at this time than the cricket.

  • Leaders representing the populace who voted for them in a democratic process are few on the ground, as we become disconnected from the truth and policies are coming from the top down in the cause of an Unacknowledged secretive worldwide agenda. The social contract seems a thing of the past. Free speech is repressed, the mainstream media is not investigating the news but rather taking dictation from the prevailing narrative and any dissenter from the approved narrative is marginalised, bullied and threatened. In the byegone eras of Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany and Maoist China populations were subdued ,under threat of harsh and genocidal punishment. Now we witness the paradox of a silent dictatorship where elephants in the room abound unchallenged and anyone who dares to disagree is hounded down, with fear and conformity being the hall mark of this gangster style dictatorship. Power corrupts and once-great nations seem to have run their course and are now falling into decay, like ancient Rome. Think Bohemian Grove, Dolphin Square, the Vatican, Facebook, the destructive intervention into Iraq by the infamous duo Bush and Blair on the basis of a proven lie. These days in Western culture there is no space for the transcendental, it is only science and what can be seen, smelled and touched that is acceptable, ( although when evidence is required in the current double agent investigation, that is not forthcoming). This is impoverishing to the soul and we, the sheeple, need strong leaders we can get behind. Instead statesmanship and diplomacy is lacking. Even the elements earth, wind, fire, sea and sky seem to be conspiring against us as a storm is brewing, not widely reported in the news. Deception is the order of the day, with the death and resurrection of Christ being termed Easter, which they of the religious fraternity should know refers to Ishtar, the fertility goddess and queen of heaven in ancient Babylonia whose symbol is the crescent moon and who is linked to Baal and Moloch, the god of child sacrifice. Never has it been more urgent for leaders to show strength in truth, or except for a supernatural intervention an apocalypse will indeed wipe us out! Jesus said he would build his church on a rock that even the gates of Hades could not overcome. Let us hope that the church, who are His people, can bring forth that stength.

  • Sheep without a shepherd inspire compassion. Not so Gadarene swine under demonic direction hurtling towards the depths of a giant lake… Self-empowerment at any price is a dangerous modus operandi for anyone’s life.

    “Power without glory” is an inevitable spin-off for those who worship someone other than the One of Whom alone it is rightly said: “Yours is the power and the kingdom and the glory forever.”…

Leave a Reply