In my mind, NZ political leadership is under the microscope. First, we have the business of MP's housing expenses. MP's like deputy PM Bill English were exposed for rorting the system. Then, we have the problem of travel expenses with MP's like Chris Carter, Roger Douglas, Hone Harawira and Rodney Hide. These MP's and others have been exposed for taking spouses and partners on trips and turning them into junkets. The whole things smacks of corruption, even if it supposedly legitimised. Finally, we have the problem of Hone Harawira's email.
This email speaks of "white man bull****"; "white mother *******" who "have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries". It describes the rules of government expenses as "puritanical bull****." He defends his right to take his wife with him on the basis of her years of support. Those of us who know our history, know that Maori have suffered greatly through colonisation. However, is this necessary?
Essentially we have on display in these MP's corruption and racist abuse.
Going further back we have a government that defies the majority of NZers over the anti-smacking legislation. Whatever you think about smacking, it is an arrogant and defiant government who, in a supposed democracy, flicks the bird at over 80% of its citizens.
If this is the standard of our politicians at the moment, we are in serious trouble. What we need is a new generation of NZ leaders who will lead with honesty and integrity. People who are statesmen and women, and can rise above such anger, abuse and who are determined not to rort the system. We need people who lead with grace, truth and wisdom.
The challenge for training institutions like Laidlaw College is to continue to increasingly become environments that equip people for the challenge. We have the greatest role models in Scripture to draw on: Jesus of course, Paul, Priscilla and Aquila, Timothy, Deborah, Moses, Abraham, David and more. In the history of God's people there have been many role models like Wilberforce and others. We must be inspired to take seriously the patterns of leadership laid down for us, take them into our churches, into our schools, into our communities, into our social clubs and into our parliament. We have to learn the art of servant-leadership and, taking up our crosses and towels, go into these hard places, and lead.
We have to do so humbly, without assumption of power, without resorting to the patterns of corruption and power-abuse which dominate our world. Sadly, our churches are not uncommonly led in false ways. Some have been in the news recently. We must go into a new era of determination to lead as Jesus' led.
I don't think NZ will change quickly. I think it will take years of faithful service from ministers in church and state (cf. Rom 13). It will be hard, as Christians learn how to be political while remaining principled. It might take a few generations. Some will be crucified along the way. Some will fall and fail. However, some will show the way. Let's not slip back into Christian ghettoism like "Christian" political parties, and get in amongst the big players in NZ politics. We must have generations of NZ Christians who, without resorting to moralism, bring true humanity into the public realm.
To be successful will take brilliance and much much more importantly, character. Character is the missing link in all of this. Character not to rort the system, even when it is "legal" to do so. Character not to resort to anger and abuse when one is challenged. Character to stand firm in one's faith, yet work with others of different views for the desired goal. Character to learn the art of debate without being defensive and retreating. Character to die for Jesus in the public realm. Character to lead not for popularity and pragmatism, but with humility and principle.
It is a supreme challenge, it is the narrow road. But with God, all things are possible.