Choosing Our Leaders

INNUENDO, intrigue, and outright attacks on candidates seem to be very much a part of today's political scene. Such techniques would keep us from considering the issues that urgently need our attention as we choose among candidates. There is a way to avoid being taken in by such manipulations, and that is prayer. Through prayer we can quiet our thoughts, which may be anxious or angry, and begin to understand where to look for the leadership we need.

Christ Jesus is, perhaps, the consummate example of a leader who cared for people and yet was fearless in speaking the truth. The spiritually derived qualities he exhibited, such as intelligence, compassion, goodness, honesty, love, strength, courage, are ones that would be welcome in any leader.

We each can play a role in bringing such qualities to light by striving to express them in our own lives and communities. For example, in times of economic hardship, we can pray to love and value whatever is genuinely good in the community.

Perhaps the citizens are consistently hopeful and joyful about the town. Or maybe they show great love for one another. These spiritual qualities illustrate the real foundation on which strong government-- whether it is local or national--is built. And those in leadership positions who best express these qualities deserve our support.

Sometimes, of course, the choice among leaders may not seem too inspiring. Here an event from Christ Jesus' ministry shows us how we can get a new look at people who may not have inspired much confidence. In Jesus' time, publicans, who were tax collectors for the Romans, were despised as traitors and considered dishonest by their fellow Jews--often with good cause!

Yet one tax collector, Zacchaeus, was stirred by something he heard about Jesus. Wanting to see the Master, he climbed into a tree so he could watch as the Master went by. Imagine his surprise when Jesus looked up into the tree and said, ``Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house." Bystanders muttered about this because they didn't realize the regenerating power of Jesus' spiritual understanding. As a result of his encounter with Jesus, Luke's Gospel tells us, Zacchaeus reformed and gave half his goods to the poor. He even offered to make fourfold restitution to anyone he had treated dishonestly.

In our prayers to discern good leaders for our cities, states, and nations, we can ponder the changes spiritual receptivity can bring. If candidates have been accused of making mistakes in the past or are felt to show a lack of vision and foresight, we can be patient whenever we see that honest efforts toward progress are being made. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of Christ Jesus in her Message to The Mother Church for 1902. One of her statements offers some qual ities we too might cultivate. She writes, ``Jesus was compassionate, true, faithful to rebuke, ready to forgive."

Jesus understood that man is the offspring of God and thus is fully spiritual. God's man--your and my true being--cannot be prey to materialism and the carnal senses. So, through our prayers we can rise above these errors and live up to the moral standard we want for our families and our leaders. By embracing goodness and choosing leaders who also do this, we begin to cut away at the roots of corruption and mediocrity.

Each community and nation has its own challenges in choosing leaders. Yet if we are willing to express compassion for the human aspect of our leaders while also expecting them to express intelligence, wisdom, and other spiritual qualities, we will be helping them and improving our world.

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