Why This World Lacks Leadership

spaxiax/iStock/Thinkstock

Why This World Lacks Leadership

It is the most read-about subject in business. It is the most talked-about theme in politics. But leadership is also the most-needed commodity for today’s problem-choked world. Why?
From the September-October 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

Ours is a very different world from that of our predecessors. It is rapid-paced, quickly changing. Technology, brought on by the knowledge explosion of the 1960s, has revolutionized our world from what it once was.

Scientists, businessmen, educators and politicians all seem to operate under the belief that, given sufficient time, knowledge and resources, mankind could solve all problems. Yet with all our advancements, we now have increased evils. The threat of a nuclear holocaust still exists. Terrorism is a problem all around the globe. Violence is ongoing in the Middle East. We have ethnic clashes in Africa. India and Pakistan are at each other’s throats. Christians are under attack in India and Indonesia. The U.S. economy teeters on the brink of disaster. In our Western world, morals continue to rapidly degenerate.

Is anyone solving these problems?

Broken Families

Our once-stable society is fracturing around us. Why? One major reason is that during our age of scientific progression, the institution of family has been systematically pulled apart.

The first cousin of knowledge production is experimentation. The 1960s brought us the “new” morality (a palatable term for sexual immorality) which was simply an experiment with the family. The result? Skyrocketing divorce rates are now the norm throughout the Western world. Statistics show that for every 10 new marriages, four will end in divorce. That figure has actually gone down from six in 10 as the trend toward cohabitation (no marriage—no divorce) increases.

Divorce, together with the increasing number of children born outside of wedlock, has produced a high number of single-parent families. This means many homes are being led by single mothers who must work to support the family. We must face a stark reality: Too many of our homes are fatherless. In 2000, census statistics showed that 40 percent of American children do not live with their biological fathers.

The simple truth is, children need fathers to help them grow up mentally and emotionally healthy. To become leaders, boys need a strong father as a model. Fathers should teach their sons how to lead their families and other institutions.

Our current leadership crisis is really a family crisis. Broken families produce flawed leaders.

Who is to blame for our broken, fatherless homes? We must be honest: A great share of the blame lies with men.

The sexual revolution of the ’60s taught men to throw off the older generation’s values. Men were encouraged to do “whatever makes you happy.” For many, that meant shirking their God-given responsibility to lead. Generally, being “happy” also meant escape from a troubled marriage. Instead of solving marriage problems, many men simply moved on. Family breakdown became commonplace. Selfishness and self-centeredness replaced sacrifice and support. Setting the male example of being a hard-working, wise, loving and firm family guide became passé.

Now we have a new generation of non-fathered men who do not understand what it means to be a male. Many of today’s men are moving through life without direction. Frustration runs high. Never before has our society been so confused about being male.

No wonder we have such a lack of leadership.

Attack on Males

We must also recognize the impact of the feminist movement on leadership. Male leadership, especially the role of the father, has been under attack for decades. The feminist movement has led the charge.

In his article “The Crisis of Manliness,” Prof. Walter R. Newell wrote, “The last 30 years have witnessed a prolonged effort at social engineering throughout our public and educational institutions. Its purpose is to eradicate any psychological and emotional differences between men and women, on the grounds that any concept of manliness inevitably leads to arrogance and violence towards women ….

“This experiment was meant to reduce violence and tensions between the sexes. And yet, during this same period, ‘macho’ violence and stress between men and women may well have increased. Recent crime statistics suggest as much in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom—the countries where the feminist social experiment stigmatizing manliness has had the greatest latitude to prove itself” (Weekly Standard, Aug. 3, 1998). Wanting to replace male authority with female supremacy, the women’s movement has ridiculed and maligned the male role in the family.

All male energy, decisiveness and action is considered wrongful aggression by feminists. It is true that male authority can be abused; however, positive male energy, decisiveness and action solves problems—society’s problems.

Desiring a genderless society, feminists have taught young boys that their natural tendencies to take the lead, to be strong and energetic, are wrong. Yes, boys will be impetuous. All boys must be taught how to discipline and channel their energies. Yet, our schools today are dosing out Ritalin instead of teaching character and values.

The problems in schools are growing worse. Mr. Newell states that the feminist movement’s put-down of men has helped produce a new generation of violent youths angered into aggression, resulting in more arguments, fights—even outbursts such as school shootings.

Our modern media have given much assistance to feminism. TV shows, movies and even comic strips typically picture women as bright, energetic and strong, while men are generally portrayed as lifeless, weak, bumbling idiots. The feminist movement has been a major contributor to our modern male identity crisis. The message has been clear: Women are good—men are bad.

It is not difficult to understand why so many young men today do not take the lead in society. They have been taught that it is wrong and oppressive to do so! But energy must be released, so frustrated young men are turning their male energy to destructive purposes.

The feminist movement is trying to build a society without men. What is the impact? After a generation of experimentation with de-emphasizing the father’s role, many experts now recognize that when male authority is lacking from home life, tragic results often follow. Children (both male and female) suffer terribly without a father living in the home. Law officials and other youth experts know that the declining role of fathers in our society has led to an increase in crime, welfare dependency and drug use.

Our modern homes need the firm, wise, loving, encouraging, uplifting guidance that only a father can give. Effective fathers train effective leaders.

Let’s admit it: The fatherless family is one of the root causes for this world’s lack of leadership.

Leadership Must Be Learned

True leadership is not taught in colleges or universities. Isn’t it fair to ask why the youth of today are not being trained to properly steer our modern governments and combat the huge problems facing mankind?

The first half of this century brought us leadership giants. Men like Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer motivated their respective nations and influenced the world to overcome great obstacles. Scholars, historians, political scientists, sociologists and psychologists study the lives of these men, yet they still cannot define or summarize the basic qualities that make up effective leadership. Maybe you don’t agree with that statement. But think about it. If we know so much about leadership, where are all the Churchills and De Gaulles today?

Many people confuse power with leadership. Go to the business section of any bookstore. Numerous books about leadership have the word power in the title. Some would consider Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin leaders. These men wielded considerable power. But were they true leaders? As heads of their nations, these men inflicted enormous pain and suffering upon millions. Experts study these men and make observations about the use and abuse of power. We must ask, can we learn leadership from power-mad tyrants? Power is not leadership. Effective leaders use power to serve and assist others. Having power does not mean problems get solved. Adolf Hitler proved that power can make serious problems much worse.

Recent decades have brought us some leaders of prominence: Dwight Eisenhower, Anwar Sadat, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan. But many would agree that there are not many impressive leaders today, providing effective ways to deal with international conflicts, racial tensions, urban and rural violence, failing global and national economies, poverty, famine, growing disease epidemics and unexpected natural disasters.

Honest observers recognize that this world is on a collision course with these problems. Who is being prepared to provide solutions, make plans and carry out decisions? We must conclude that our modern crisis of leadership is really a crisis of education.

James MacGregor Burns wrote, “The crisis of leadership today is the mediocrity or irresponsibility of so many of the men and women in power, but leadership rarely rises to the full need for it. … If we know all too much about our leaders, we know far too little about leadership. We fail to grasp the essence of leadership that is relevant to the modern age, and hence we cannot agree on the standards by which to measure, recruit and reject it” (Leadership). It is true: We just do not understand leadership. So then how can we properly teach it?

Cult of Personality

Why don’t we understand leadership? Could our lack of understanding reflect a lack of moral character?

Let’s be blunt. Do the people of this world truly desire effective leadership? If Winston Churchill came on the scene today, would anybody listen, and then do what he recommended? The answer is a sad no.

Leadership reflects a relationship. A leader must have followers. When a leader leads, followers must follow. All people of this world—both East and West—have had considerable problems with their leadership. Even with all Churchill did for the free world, he was loathed by many.

Here is another reason we lack leadership today: Followers all too often reject the leaders best suited to lead.

Today, we prefer our leaders to be more like celebrities than people of substance. This is probably most true in the Western world, especially in the United States. Some of our elected officials are former actors or athletes. In our modern culture, we look up to people who look good. We tend to vote for the most handsome or most physically appealing. These are the kind of people we want to imitate and follow. Ugly people with right answers are categorically ignored!

Read about our leaders in the latest magazines and newspapers. You will find articles that peep into our leaders’ private lives, revealing trivial things from sleep habits, sexual practices, clothing and favorite foods, to the pedigrees of dogs and cats. Why are these meaningless subjects given so much press? Editors know what sells magazines. They print what people want to read. The articles about our leaders in today’s magazines are a reflection of ourselves.

Our high-tech society has become so shallow. We are living in a culture that focuses on personality. We are trend-seekers. We desire ease and pleasure. Who wants hard solutions to real problems? We want leaders to tell us there are no problems. We desire “in” leaders who tell us everything is getting better and better. How far do we think a leader would get if he stated emphatically that to solve our nation’s debt problems everyone should cut up their credit cards?

King Saul of ancient Israel was the people’s choice. The people had rejected Samuel as their leader. He was old and gray-headed (i Sam. 8:5). The people wanted a king like the nations around them. Saul was a tall and handsome man (i Sam. 10:23-24). He had personality and charisma—the kind of leader the people could be proud of. Yet, he led his nation into one disaster after another.

Many leaders today have come to power more as a result of their personality and appearance than their ability or skill. Political critics recognize that the individual who effectively presents a charismatic tv and media image can gain power easily. Analysts agree that many of our modern leaders in the U.S. and Britain have come to office through their manipulation of the media. Had King Saul been alive today, he would have successfully manipulated the media too.

Unfortunately, receiving a nation’s vote at times is nothing better than winning the “people’s choice” award for great drama. To have effective leadership, we must learn this lesson from history: The people’s choice is often not what a nation needs. Our Western nations are teetering on the brink of disaster!

Lessons From History

Students of history recognize that there is a cyclic nature to leadership. Quoting George Santayana, Winston Churchill often said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As a whole, the British and American people have lost their sense of history. Unless we regain a sense of our heritage, we are doomed to repeat a very tragic past. Our leadership is failing us by not learning from and reminding us of vital historic events.

How quickly we have forgotten the incredible human drama and trauma of World War ii. That global crisis gave us fantastic leadership. In fact, World War ii taught us that the true test of leadership is meeting and overcoming crises.

History shows us that eras of energetic and effective leadership by reasonable and just-minded men are generally followed by periods of decline and crisis under feeble or confused successors. Do we realize that the great leaders of our time are dead? And many of today’s current events parallel those which led up to World War ii. The recent crisis in the Balkans, along with the racial and economic tension inside Germany, proves this point. Similar events in these troubled countries directly led to that war. Which national leaders today are speaking of these issues and warning our world about the coming trouble? Name them. Your list will be very small.

The history our modern Western leaders need most is found in the pages of a bestseller that few read: the Bible. Prophecy tells us where we came from, who we are and where we are going. The late Herbert Armstrong, one of the truly great leaders of our time, understood Bible prophecy like no other man. He explained Bible history and the destiny of the English-speaking world in his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Write for a free copy if you don’t already have one. This important book, if read—and believed—by today’s Western leaders, would make a vital difference in the effectiveness of their leadership. It would guide their decisions—show them the way out of the major problems they face today.

The significance of this book is shocking. Charting a map through Bible prophecy, it shows that our modern Western nations are in grave peril, especially the United States and Great Britain. Mr. Armstrong clearly explained that the Old Testament prophecies written down in ancient Israel actually apply to us, right now!

Leadership Taken Away

Why do we lack capable leadership today? Prophecy shows that God has removed competent leadership from America and Britain—modern Israel.

The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water. The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable” (Isa. 3:1-5).

These scriptures are an apt description of our leadership crisis and our society. God states emphatically that He has taken away competent leadership from us at all levels. He has removed it in our military (man of war), in our legal system (judge), in religion (prophet), in education (prudent), in our families (ancient), in business (artificer) and in our governments (orator). What is the result? People are oppressed. Our high-tech society has become a burdensome one. The more we advance, the more we decline.

Why has God removed leadership? Isaiah also wrote, “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory” (v. 8). We have provoked God with our many sins. We have become a sin-filled society. Since we want sin, God is giving us leaders who will allow us to keep sinning to our own destruction. Isaiah continues, “The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves” (v. 9). As a people, we flaunt our sin—as do some of our leaders.

Unless our nations repent soon, we and our leaders will receive severe punishment.

Effective Leadership Will Return

Historians also recognize that in a period of decline, rule is often obtained by default. Many a nation has been ruined because of leadership by default. Unfortunately, those qualified to lead and govern today do not want the job. This too was prophesied. Isaiah states of America and Britain, “When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand: In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people” (vv. 6-7).

Isaiah reveals the ill effects of our leadership crisis. Our society is sick and gasping for breath. These verses show that things are going to get worse. When competent men refuse to rule, unscrupulous tyrants generally seize control.

The Bible does prophesy that a final, great tribulation is coming on our world (Matt. 24:21). Power-mad men will inflict the worst time of suffering on an unsuspecting humanity one final, short time.

But there is hope. Jesus Christ, the most competent and effective leader ever trained, will return and stop men from misruling other men (Rev. 11:15). He will establish a new world government with capable leaders. After He returns, never again will this world suffer a crisis of leadership. The entire Earth will have rulers capable of solving problems. At Christ’s return, a new age of peace, health and success will break forth. May God hasten the day.