The unlit light bulb
It's about as sad an image my mind can equate to the disappointment of lost influence: the unlit light bulb. Everything is present for light to shine in the darkness. But, there are disconnections that prevent the mechanisms from bringing the light they were invented to create. For thirty-five years of spiritual leadership the metaphor of the unlit light bulb has been the prime picture of those people so prepared to influence our world but for some reason cannot. Like the light bulbs pictured above these individuals can't brighten the world with the leadership qualities wired into them either in their personal strength array or through spiritual endowment. Something has happened to disconnect them from the world they were created and trained to impact.
One of the most disappointing aspects of election 2016 for me has been the number of esteemed political, cultural, societal, educational, entertainment, economic, and spiritual leaders who've lost their influence in the drama of the election. Turn on the TV and see the programming adjustments being made in the national news venues. In the same way do some study of the declining newspaper circulation trends and the weakness of columnists whose pens have been tabled because of bad advice or missing the mark of political commentary. Listen to the hubbub the Hollywood elites have spawned in their childish rants about the state of the nation. Watch this week and senators and congressmen/women ignore the inauguration of the newly elected President. Sure, every American has a right to express their opinion and take whatever political position their conscience permits. In the process of this expression, so loud and rancorous in the pre- and post-election media, many gifted leaders have given up their place at the table of influence. And, that saddens me.
Hey, it's politics and we Americans have a history of political intrigue and opposing views. That we all took our stands boldly and marked our lines of support is no big deal. That's the nature of it, politics, and us, flawed humans. The truly regrettable element for me was how many bonafide and respected leaders in every human arena misread the population on election night. Sure, Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote. Mr. Trump, however, won the most counties and states and the electoral college, making him the President. The loss of influence at so many levels of national leadership, including several leaders in our own denomination, wasn't because they voted a certain way. No, they failed to see what was happening among rank and file Americans and as a result disconnected themselves from the constituency they were hired/chosen/elected to represent. The credibility of their leadership was squandered by language and actions distant from the people they are supposed to serve.
Every day I pray for a long list of leaders, in the spiritual, political, civic, and social communities of our great nation. I pray very specifically that---
1. They will be obedient to the mandate of their assignment.
2. They will be filled with wisdom, knowledge, and discernment.
3. They will demonstrate character in their personal life and leadership.
4. They will seek the welfare of the people they have been chosen to lead.
5. They will understand the times.
It's number five that gives me pause right now. I'm reminded of the tribes of Israel who came to David in Hebron to insure the transition of the Kingdom of Saul to his leadership. The historian recorded the number of troops brought to the occasion. Then he wrote---
Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought
to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.
1 Chronicles 12:32, ESV
They were the tribal chiefs, the leaders who evidently knew what was happening in the world around them and were prepared to lead their kinsmen in what was coming.
And, that is the tragedy of the unlit light bulbs. So, many leaders at every level of the American experience became disconnected from the people they were leading. And, in many ways their influence has been diminished.
Are they through? Not in my opinion. Many of them have admitted their error and have resumed their places of influence, though perhaps in a quieter, less obnoxious level. But, we're the people of a second chance, and a third and fourth and innumerable times to those who are humble and transparent.
But, the unlit light bulb is a tragic picture of a disconnect. And, I pray for leaders like the chiefs of Issachar, men and women who will understand the times and know what we should do.