Juli Slattery

by Juli Slattery


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Longing for Hope When Leaders Fail

Sometimes what is happening in the world overwhelms my “to do” list. Today feels like one of those days. This blog post isn’t about intimacy, relationships, or sexuality. It’s about the brokenness we all see all around us. 

As children and teenagers, our spiritual and political leaders loom larger than life. We generally believe that their experience and education have prepared them to make the crucial decisions that guide our society. And then the day comes when you realize, “The kids are driving the bus!” Whether it’s government officials, your pastor, or the head of the organization you work for, our leaders are just human. They have the same weaknesses and blind spots you and I do. 

It can be a frightening realization that the people making decisions that impact us often don’t know what they are doing. As our world spirals out of control with COVID-19 and racial tension, I wish for leaders who have the wisdom and sensitivity to guide us and unite us through crisis. Unfortunately, no perfect leader exists here on earth. All too often, leadership is revealed to be more about political agendas and personal power than caring for people. 

My heart grieves … does yours? 

Friend, this is why I have to spend the first portion of every day with the Lord. I cry out to Him in prayer and study His Word. Right now, I’m reading the Old Testament books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. These ancient Scriptures may at first seem to have little relevance to modern life, but they speak about a God who is grieved at consistent rebellion and eventually unleashes wrath to get humanity’s attention. At the same time, the prophet foreshadows the coming of Jesus, who will usher in a reign of righteousness and peace. He has come … and we wait for His return!

As you scroll through your news feed looking for some signs of hope, can I encourage you with how the Lord tells us to react to circumstances like these? 

 

Respect authority but worship the Lord.

While our leaders do not always behave in a way that is worthy of respect, God reminds us that all authority comes from Him. The good and the bad according to Romans 13:1–2 have been placed there by God for His sovereign purposes. Paul told the early Christians to submit to all governing authorities during the reign of terrible and ruthless Roman leaders. We can treat even the worst of leaders with respect only when we realize that they do not determine our future. God does. 

There is no political party or charismatic leader who can fix the angst we feel. The only One who can bring unity and peace is Jesus Christ. We look to Him. We love Him. We worship and serve Him alone. 

 

Be humble toward one another.

The issues of our day are complicated. You and I only know a sliver of the facts and one side of every story. Because of this, we need to listen more than we talk and learn more than we teach. I don’t know what it feels like to be a minority in America. And what do I know about living in poverty or homelessness? I have never worked in government or law enforcement. I don’t understand the challenges of making decisions that can lead to life or death. As James instructed, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. For the anger of men does not achieve the righteousness of God.” 

 

Pray for our world and for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Bible teaches that the prayer of a righteous person (someone with a clean heart before God), accomplishes much. This is where you and I can make the greatest difference in our world. Repentance and prayers. Every time you get in a conversation with another Christian about politics, reopening the government, or protests, stop talking and take time to pray together. 

Pray for our fellow Christians who are suffering and for those God has placed in positions of influence and authority. 

 

Love in deed.

Prayer is not just about moving God’s heart, but also about inviting Him to move ours. Out of our prayer often comes work. John encouraged the first Christians to love not only in word, but also through our actions.

Remember the story of the Good Samaritan. The religious people who passed by noticed him, but only one person stopped to help. Ask the Lord what it looks like for you to “stop to help.” How can you love your neighbor today? How can you speak for someone who has no voice? How can you ease the suffering of another?

 

Remember that we are not home.

I love how Peter responded to the early Christians who faced persecution: Why are you surprised as if something strange is happening to you? (I Peter 4:12). Earlier in this letter Peter told them that they are aliens and foreigners here on earth. We are living in a broken world that will never be fixed by human wisdom and power. In fact, the Bible indicates that things will get worse before they get better at the final appearance of Jesus. 

As much as we long to make this world right, it cannot be. Our hope is not ultimately in a vaccine or a righteous leader here on earth, but in the new heaven and earth that Jesus will bring to reality. 

Yes, there is a time to read the news and to be informed about what is happening around us. And yes, we are to do all that we can to bring love, justice, and righteousness to our planet. But ultimately, our hope is in the Lord, the only One who saves. 

I look to the mountains--- does my help come from there? 
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. 
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleep. 

 

 

Comments

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  • Allison  Smoak

    Allison Smoak

    Amen and amen! Thank you for being leader who seeks to love Christ and his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!
  • Paul Wilcox

    Paul Wilcox

    Thanks Juli, you hit the nail on the head! I believe that we, the hands and feet of Jesus were born for such a time as this. What a wonderful opportunity we have before us to bring hope and not judgement, to bring peace and not condemnation, to bring repentance and forgiveness so that healing can flow, to be love that marks us as caring, compassionate, tender, yet strong, ready to embrace.

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