Republican Leadership “Fail”

It looks like the frantic and desperate and search for a non-Romney candidate has failed. On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, the leadership skills of each candidate have been tried and found wanting. Where did they go wrong? Although much could be said, I’m going to highlight just one leadership lesson from each failed candidacy.

And I include Romney in this “fail” too, because although it looks like he will eventually soon emerge as the nominee, his continued inability to capture the hearts of most Republicans, despite the “carnage” of fails around him, is a terrible reflection on his own candidacy.

Rick Perry: Think fast, speak clearly.
A leader must be able to communicate clearly and confidently, not just in set speeches, but in debates and interviews too. You can press the hot-buttons of pro-life and traditional marriage as often as you want, but it will never make up for an inability to think on your feet and articulate your thoughts under pressure.

Michelle Baachman: Be positive and happy.
People want leaders who are not just against things, but who also present a positive and hopeful message. Happy leaders are usually popular leaders.

Rick Santorum: Be a friend of tax-collectors and sinners
There’s a difference between being the moral-values candidate and being the holier-than-thou candidate, If you’re going to take the moral high ground, you must not make people feel as if you are looking down your nose at them.

John Huntsman: You can be superior without making people feel inferior
If Santorum sabotaged himself with an air of moral superiority, Huntsmen did himself in with an air of intellectual superiority. No one ever connected with the masses by projecting the image of a pin-stripped diplomat or of an intellectual snob.

Ron Paul: Distinguish between personal preferences and people’s needs
You can have lots of great ideas, but two or three loopy policies will close people’s ears to anything you say.  In a time of great national peril, Paul sadly and selfishly  failed to distinguish between what the nation desperately needs (fiscal responsibility) and his own personal hobby horses (e.g. legalizing of Class A drugs and prostitution). Sometimes pragmatism is a moral virtue.

Herman Cain: Be sure your sins will find you out
Cain was finished as soon as he starting aggressively attacking his accusers. We’ve all seen guilty people react this way. An innocent man in his position would surely have come in front of the media and said something like, “As a man of great moral integrity, I’m humbled and shaken by these accusations. Having prayed over this before God, I can honestly say that I have a clear conscience. However, I’m deeply concerned for the women making these allegations, and plan to meet with each of them to see if I have ever done anything that would have made them say what they are saying.”

Newt Gingrich: People hate hypocrisy
Newt grasps the size of the nation’s problems, and has the brain and courage to produce the necessary policies, but he’ll never get the opportunity because of his moral and financial hypocrisy.  Although he seemed to be overcoming the moral failings with his “redemption and forgiveness narrative,” the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac “history lessons” millions ruined the story.

Mitt Romney: Say “Sorry.”
Mitt Romney would have had so much more and so much warmer support if he’d simply said sorry for Romneycare. The defense that, “It was a tailor-made solution for my own state and never intended to be a model for the rest of the nation,” just doesn’t make any sense to anybody but his campaign.

Far better to have said, “We were pioneers in trying to find solutions to healthcare problems. I don’t apologize for trying, but with the benefit of hindsight, it’s obvious that we made mistakes for which I apologize. And with the benefit of that experience, I’m now in a position to lead our nation forward in finding a solution that will combine fiscal with moral responsibility.” Is it too late to say that? Of course, that alone won’t win over everybody to Romney. But it would at least indicate that he is sympathetic to, and wants to be supported by, the Tea-partiers and other Americans who rightly fear the over-reach of government into their lives.

Although I’ve picked out a flaw, in some cases a fatal flaw, in each of these candidacies, I think we must also express considerable admiration for the courage and sacrifice it takes to put oneself up for election in today’s media climate. America has thousands of leaders, from all walks of life, who would make better Presidents than any of the present candidates. They have all the character, morality, experience, knowledge, skills and abilities to lead this great country. But when they look at the moral and social consequences for themselves, their families, and their friends, they conclude that the cost is simply too high. That’s understandable, but deeply regrettable.

While we continue to pray for better leaders and for those in authority over us, it’s at times like these when it really is a comfort to remember Christ’s words, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Children’s Bible Reading Plan (60)

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

The first 6 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

Daily List: 11 Trends in Biblical Counseling in 2011

Bob Kellemen traces 11 trends in Biblical Counseling in 2011.

11. An Increasingly Positive Perspective and Presentation

10. A Growing Appreciation for the History of Christian Soul Care

9. An Expanding Second and Third Generation of Leaders

8. A Maturing Emphasis on Compassionate Care

7. A Developing Culturally-Informed Approach

6. A Blossoming Collegial Spirit

5. A Nuanced, Comprehensive Model

4. An Ongoing and Increasingly “Balanced” Commitment to Progressive Sanctification

3. A Robust Presentation of the Sufficiency of Scripture

2. A Focused Vision for the Entire Church

1. A Maturing Gospel-Centered Focus

Read his exposition of each point here.

Lunch Links

What would you say to my husband if you were a young Seminarian again?
RTS’s Michael Milton replies.

So you want to be a church planter?
Jason Helopoulos describes seven essential characteristics.

Christian living
The resolutions of Jonathan Edwards in categories
Matt Perman provides a helpful 7-category re-organization of Edwards’ resolutions.

Unlocking the Bible Story
336 pages for $2.51!

MIT to offer free online courses to all
Isn’t it so exciting to live through this digital revolution! This is an even bigger step forward than simply making course materials available for free.

Religious Americans just as Tech-savvy as Others
This has got to be one of the most condescending articles I’ve read in a long time. There are so many barely-concealed prejudices in the way this is reported.

“A skunk on steroids”
Something about this appealed to the little boy in me. In an unusual combination of old and new technology, an impenetrable wall of stinky, foul-smelling water is helping to combat Somali pirates.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe in Hell

Or maybe I should say, sometimes it’s hard to conceive of Hell. It’s certainly been that way for me this week.

Although I’m on high doses of Vicodin, I’ve been experiencing some pretty severe (though not unexpected) post-op pain. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’ve been malefully (and unsuccessfuly), attempting to cut down the medication. (Can someone explain why we men do this to ourselves?)

I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe the pain. My family can tell how bad it is by looking at my face, posture, and gait; and maybe by listening to some extremely rare groans and gasps. But how do you write about it? Once you’ve said it’s very, very, very sore, what’s left to say?

And I ask this, because I’ve been thinking a lot about Hell this week. I’ve actually had worse pain in my life before, twice, but it’s never made me think about Hell as it did this week.

If this pain is limited in extent to one part of my body, limited in intensity by medication, and limited in time by the eventual healing processes (soon please), what must the pains of Hell be like?

Unlimited extent, unlimited intensity, and unlimited time.

All over and all through, unmedicated and unmitigated, forever and forever.

Especially forever.


That’s more than a week, more than a year, more than a decade, more than a million years.

Is sin that bad? Is God that holy?

Could it be said that if we’ve never ever struggled to believe in/conceive of Hell, we’ve never come close to grasping its enormity? Could it also be said that if we reject Hell, we’ve never grasped the depth of our own sin or the height of God’s holiness?

That’s where my own thoughts began to find some rest this week – in a deeper sense of what my sin is and in a more awesome sense of who God is. But final rest came in seeing Christ as my Hell-sufferer.

I would have paid quite a lot of money to have someone suffer even some of my pain this week, even an hour’s worth. Google search produced no results – for once. But Christ has suffered all of my Hell-pain.

And I didn’t have to pay him a dime.

Indeed, He searched for me.

Daily List: 6 New Year Resolution Questions

Gretchen Rubin has six questions to to help you frame your New You resolutions.

1. Ask: “What would make me happier?”

2. Ask: “What is a concrete action that would bring change?”

3. Ask: “Am I a ‘yes’ resolver or a ‘no’ resolver?”

4. Ask: “Am I starting small enough?”

5. Ask: “How am I going to hold myself accountable?”

6. Ask: “Are there any small, nagging issues weighing down my happiness?” 

Read her exposition here.

UPDATE FROM THE COMMENTS: As far as I know, Gretchen is not a Christian but I often think it’s helpful to see how non-Christians think and write. What are their priorities, motivations, aims, etc? It helps Christians reach them, and also helps Christian crystalize and clarify their own priorities, etc. They also have grains of helpful insights scattered here and there.