Most of you know I was in Washington Last week working with The Telos Group, a non-profit group working to bring leaders together from politics, economics, sociology, and faith. What an interesting time to be in America's capital.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know there are motivated people playing a pretty high stake game with the future of millions. Whether you're watching Fox, CNN, or cruising over to MSNBC, you'll find dramatic explanations blaming both sides. But I'm more interested in the underlying reason we've found our way to this place. I think there's a moral obligation our leaders are forgetting their duty to the people who hired them, and it's time we start holding them accountable for our representation. Here are some thoughts.
1. Somewhere, leading became an entitlement
There's something in the air as soon as you enter the beltway in Washington, and many of our leaders are breathing it deep. They've become people who are expectant their constituents will forgive them on these 'side' issues, but for whatever reason the pure water can't get in.
As I talk with people around the country I've heard some pretty vile language accusing one side or the other of being irresponsible, but the true mark of the problem is the idea they're serving political agenda more than they calculate the service of the American people. No matter where you stand on the current health care law, this government ground to a halt isn't serving the people. It's rather self serving as I watch them all run to the nearest camera lens to blame the other.
However; There are some good people we need to support
In our attempt to use extreme hyperbole toward the entire rank and file house members, there are some good people trying to get something done. As is with most organizations there are those who shout loudly who get the most attention, while the real work is being done by people behind closed doors.
I think we need to find out who those people are doing the real work, and lift them up with encouragement, prayer, and maybe a phone call to express our gratitude. I have little time for the sound byte addicts, but those who are diligently trying to help, we need to stand with them. It's not ALL Democrats or ALL Republicans who are at fault.
2. Leadership is Service, not the other way around
If I've learned anything in my short time here on earth, whether you're leading a company or a demographic, the only way to lead well is to serve well. We all have bosses, and those people deserve the best we can be. When a government becomes a place where the people serve the leadership, we've forgone the beauty of the grand experiment we are living here in America. The "rights" of the people we've fought so hard and long for are only as good as the service, respect, and integrity we give each other.
So when a government decides to deny their role of service, and take on self serving games, we're watching the things we hold so dear melt away right before our eyes.
3. The Morality of Governing
"To whom much is given, much is required." For whatever reason the sacrifice of leadership has left the building. Being elected to the most powerful country the world has ever known brings with it a certain moral obligation to look out for those who are being governed. The reason the founding fathers set out to establish this great nation is to bring us all together knowing we're all in this together. They didn't want a tyrant or a dictator, but actually set up a governing body to be ruled by the people.
This strange idea where everyone else has to sacrifice while public servants continue on with their daily agendas seems a bit out of whack. One of the greatest lessons I learned as a young leader was, if you're going to ask someone to do something, you should be willing to do it yourself.
If you ask people to drop in salary, the leader should take on more.
If you ask people to suffer in business because of a lack of solution at the table, a leader should endure with them.
A great leader is someone who travels through the pain and sacrifice of his or her people, not someone who sits on a throne of publicity looking to make a statement.
From the outside world's perspective, we're not giving much of a model to emulate. In fact, a strong case can be made we've spiraled into a poor example.
From the first hand experience I had in D.C., I certainly witnessed a group who are interested in the self service game rather than for those who sent them.