So help me God….

After all the rain we’ve had, it was great to have the opportunity to walk today under blue sky with a lovely burst of winter sunshine. As I walked, I began to think about the inauguration of the new President of America, having watched the inauguration ceremony recently. I didn’t think about it then, but I wondered today about the enormous footprint Joe Biden is stepping into as he takes up this mantle, and wondering also how big his shoes are at the moment? I found it a very moving ceremony watching Joe and Kamala take their oaths of office, and the relatively simple words they uttered but the weight of responsibility those words represent is huge.

I suppose it isn’t surprising that my thoughts turned to leadership, what that means and what that looks like since I am currently immersed in Elijah, in preparing for next month’s quiet days! Elijah is definitely not your average leader!

In pondering the question of leadership, I was reminded of a simple definition I learned years ago, that a leader is someone with influence. If that is the case then the presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and the governers of the world are definitely in positions of influence. How they use the influence they have will determine the effectiveness of the leadership they bring to their role. This also stands true for leaders of smaller organisations and groups across the land, scout leaders, sports leaders, church leaders, youth leaders, parents and teachers (and many, many more). In fact, if you have influence in your context or community, (whether that is reflected in a formal title or not), then you also have some potential leadership, and therefore the responsibility that goes with it.

I am rather sorry that, as a nation, we seem to have lost the ability to allow our leaders to change their minds, or to change direction, without branding their last decision as wrong or a failure – and this has been particularly highlighted during the pandemic. It seems that to change your mind is a sign of weakness, a sign of failure instead of being seen as a courageous act. To see something isn’t working and to change course is surely better than doggedly sticking to what clearly isn’t working? I don’t think any of us would want our doctors to take that approach? We would hope they would try something else instead, that may work better, or suit us better. The thing is, if we can’t allow our leaders to change their minds when something isn’t working, what kind of expectations do we put on ourselves as leaders or people of influence? The expectation that we have to get everything right first time? If that is the case, we have set ourselves very unrealistic expectations.

In the book I am reading on Elijah by Charles Swindoll, he says this “the Lord is still searching for people who will make a difference…….no matter what role you fill in life, you’re not unimportant when it comes to standing alone for truth. What spot has God given you? Whatever it is, God says ‘you’re standing before me, and I want to use you as my unique spokesperson in your day and age, at this moment and time’”

Both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ended their oaths of office with ‘so help me God’, and whatever spot of influence you occupy right now – that is a very appropriate prayer!

Suzanne Owen


This message was added on Monday 25th January 2021