Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).
In a high school literature class I took way back when, the question arose from time to time why the author wrote the masterwork we read. The question implied that the author cared about a dark or hopeful theme of moral consequence. But one classmate with a mischievous grin usually insisted that the author wrote it for the money.
If only he knew how little money most writers make.
Nevertheless, it remains a good question why writers write. More generally, we may raise the question why anyone steps up to influence others.
Why do leaders lead?
In this political season, we regard would-be leaders with cynical circumspection. Like my classmate, we attribute base motives: feeding an insatiable ego, keeping donations coming, or obsessive hatred of opponents. Many go further, buying into wild conspiracy theories that place the candidate in league with the devil.
Well, yes, some candidates are pretty bad, downright scary in fact. But let’s get to the spiritual heart of our leadership crisis.
We want leaders with pure hearts. That does not mean we want candidates who spout pious platitudes and who never committed a sin. It means we want candidates whose intentions come down to a single, root motive without which money and ego fall away like dead limbs from a tree. We want candidates who care about us as individuals and as a society.
In the coming Presidential election, I believe one flawed candidate has that root motive and the other doesn’t. If you agree with me, that doesn’t mean you fill in the blanks with the same names. But it means that we share anxiety for a leader who works for us and not against us.
But what about our motives?
If votes express our motives, does our double-mindedness contribute to the leadership crisis in our nation?
Are the untrustworthy leaders we get the ones we deserve? Does gridlock and corruption reflect the impure motives of the voters?
Politicians view us as self-interested individuals who vote for candidates who promise the greatest benefit to our pocketbooks. If they see us right, then who are we to complain if their motives for money show up?
Many politicians regard us as insecure people who want to feel power vicariously through them. If they judge us correctly, then who are we to complain if their egos seem to come first?
If our mixed motives begin the leadership problem, then the solution lies well within reach.
Look inward with the assurance that God loves you. Then you do not need a glorious leader to lift your ego vicariously. Furthermore, God, whose reign offers abundance for all, frees you from any need to let financial anxieties compel your votes.
Take a breath, say a prayer, and survey the nation and the world as you imagine a loving God does. How will you cast your vote now?