As I spend time with politicians there’s at least one thing that always stands out to me. These are people of courage. They willingly put themselves, their ideas and their policies on the line every day. They are criticized, mocked, despised, scorned and rarely applauded. I’ve been a pastor for over 25 years and my worst days as a pastor are pretty tame compared to what elected officials endure. This is not a career for the faint of heart or those whose feelings are easily hurt. Political life is a popularity contest at election time, the rest of the time it’s more like a shark tank where only the strong survive.
In my mind, anyone who is willing to sign candidate papers and be willing to have their name printed on a ballot has already shown a measure of courage. There’s only one winner in every race and so just willing to say yes means you are willing to risk the chance that you have a 1 in 4 chance of actually winning. In light of a 4 or 5 year tenure in office, the initial step of courage pales in comparison to the journey before the candidate.
Finding a candidate with courage is harder than you might think. It’s not likely that you’ll see displays of courage at all candidates’ forums. It’s more likely that you’ll see it in the voting patterns of incumbents or candidates with previous political experience. You might want to ask candidates if they’ve ever voted against party lines and/or public pressure. The candidate will most likely tell you that they always want to listen to their constituents (that’s a good thing...) but the reality is that political leaders are required to make decisions based on the information in front of them and not simply on a sampling of the polls. There’s a difference between being a maverick and a person of courage. I don’t think that our nation needs political loose cannons in positions of power and influence. At the same time, I don’t think we need rows of ‘yes’ men and women who base their decision on the winds of public opinion. We need leaders who have the wisdom to act with courage in spite of public opinion and pressure.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting men and women like that. They have voted against party pressure and public opinion knowing that it may cost them everything. What’s interesting is that they survived what appeared to be a no-win scenario and have been re-elected, in some cases promoted but almost always respected because of their courage.
God sent an angel to Joshua when he commissioned him to give leadership to Israel and told him to Be strong and very courageous. Joshua needed it as he led the people across the Jordan, around Jericho and into the conquest of the Promised Land. He needed it and so do our leaders today!