In a special article written for the Christian Post entitled Petraeus: A Failure of Moral Leadership, authors Kenda Bartlett and Penny Nance make a case that our military can still be trusted despite moral failure at the highest levels of our government. As this sex scandal takes on the full blown “trappings of a daytime soap opera” and though “General Petraeus had more will power, discipline, and professional duty than almost any man alive. Yet he fell prey to sexual betrayal and, as a result, placed his marriage, career and reputation in jeopardy.”
When Judge Andrew Napolitano told a newspaper, “David Petraeus didn’t betray his country…He betrayed his wife…Big deal” Bartlett and Nance make a penetrating point, “Holly Petraeus served the military for 37, years as she walked beside her husband and supported him through graduate school, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and promotion as Director of the CIA. Holly was Petraeus’ closest ally, and he betrayed her. If he can betray her, then we have no idea who or what else he could betray.”
The authors claim “it’s widely said that American families only trust their pastors and their military.” And when it comes to trust it all boils down to what the Concerned Women for America repeatedly stated during the Clinton sex scandal “character counts.” And when it comes to character Bartlett and Nance declare America’s ideals “are safeguarded across the globe day and night by thousands upon thousands of military men and women of lesser names but greater character.”
This failure of moral leadership has its parallel in the church. Many a pastor has fallen prey to that unholy trinity of fame, fortune and infidelity. Pastors who were looked up to as pillars of humility, frugality, and purity tumble from their pedestals in one scandal after another.
In his newly released book The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, drives home the point that “the church desperately needs leaders” and that “leadership should be driven by distinctively Christian conviction.”
Mohler’s case is well made. I do not know if there was ever a time in the history of the church when there was a greater need for leadership, at least in America. This dearth of leadership lies in a lack of character, a lack of character that is fueled by the conviction that what the Scriptures teach are true and should be lived out, not just talked about.
But I want to take this idea of leadership to another level. The most basic unit of any society is the family. Travel the world and you will not discover a country, a people, a culture that a family of a husband, a wife, and children are not at its very foundation. In this simple family unit lies the hope of future generations.
In the Scriptures the husband has been placed as head of the family. God said to Eve, “your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you (Genesis 3:16).” Paul wrote, “for the husband is the head of the wife…husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:23, 25).”
The husband is the leader in the home, a leader that “should be driven by distinctively Christian conviction.” He should be a leader by example putting the needs and wellbeing of his wife and children before his own. Providing for them and protecting them is his responsibility. A man who truly does these things will never lack the love and respect of his wife and children.
But the breakdown in our society can be attributed to the breakdown of our families. And all too often the breakdown in the family is due to a father who abdicates his rightful responsibility in the home.
At different times and in different places well known and respected secular and supposedly spiritual leaders have let us down. But our nation will not fold up and collapse because of a few no matter how celebrated their place of leadership. As long as husbands and fathers assume their rightful role in the home, and live out the exhortation of Paul to “act like men (1 Corinthians 16:13),” then our families and our nation will be safeguarded by Christian men of lesser names, but greater character.