Of Princes and Presidents
“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.” – Psalm 146: 3 – 4
Doesn’t it just feel as if the 2016 Presidential campaign has already been going on forever? And many days, the best we can say about the whole extravaganza is what my Grandma Victoria used to exclaim, with a nod to the heavens, “Lord, have mercy.”
But maybe that’s okay?
Psalm 146 advises us not to put our trust in earthly rulers or leaders. While we surely ought to want a President we feel that we can trust, I imagine the psalmist meant something different, more on the order of, “Do not put ultimate trust in any earthly ruler (Prince or President, Chief or CEO).” Ultimate trust belongs to God alone.
Those who look for a new messiah, a miracle worker, or a master of the universe who will magically fix everything, may be setting their expectations a little high.
The psalmist puts us on the right track. Stop looking for a President (pastor, principal, professor, parent) who is a some sort of god. If you get a competent mortal, who gives evidence of a decent moral compass, and who understands his or her own limitations, be grateful.
In the ironic words of one teacher, “Leadership is disappointing people at a rate they can stand.” The great leaders “disappoint” our expectations of a messiah or miracle worker who will do it all for us. The magic of great leaders is that they stir in us, within their constituents and followers, their own often hidden strength and courage. In doing so, they mobilize us to face and deal with our own biggest challenges.
Perhaps instead of looking for a new messiah, we might get busy following the one we’ve got.
Dear Lord, grant us such grace and wisdom that we take politics seriously, but not too seriously. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.