The events that led to Mr. Estrada’s ouster and the swearing in of Mrs. Arroyo took place at lightning speed. At least it seemed that way from those of us who watched from afar.
Mr. Estrada came to power with a commitment to help the poor. He leaves under a dark cloud of accusations that he had siphoned off public funds into his pocket.
Non Philippinos shouldn’t feel too smug. On the same day that Mrs. Arroyo was sworn in, George W. Bush took office as the President of the United States after a lengthy recount fiasco in Florida. He takes the place of a President who openly lied about his extra marital affairs to the American people.
It seems that there is this universal phenomenon where we hope that the next change of leadership will get us a better leader. Hope reigns supreme because the facts sure don’t.
Again and again, leaders reveal their clay feet. It is just a matter of time and degree. But we keep on looking for this perfect leader.
Perhaps there is a lesson somewhere. Perhaps that lesson is hinted at in the historical books of the Old Testament. King after king make their appearance in the history of God’s people only to be evaluated as “having done evil in the sight of the Lord.” Even the good ones, like King David, are frighteningly flawed.
Perhaps the lesson is that our search for the perfect leader is doomed to failure. Such a leader will not be found among the sons and daughters of Adam.
Indeed, it is in the prophetic literature that we find a hint of how our desire and need for a perfect leader will be satisfied.
Ezekiel 34: 11-16 records a promise by God that He Himself will enter into human history to be the perfect, compassionate, wise, and effective leader that humankind has been looking for. We may not have expected His coming to be in two phases – the first, to effect the basis for His perfect leadership through His death and resurrection, and the second, His triumphant return to usher in His perfect kingdom for ever.
There is only one perfect leader, our Lord Jesus Christ.
What are some implications?
Because we know that all earthly leaders are flawed, we will not retreat into cynicism when they fail us. Cynicism takes up a lot of energy, energy that should be put to good use. And cynicism unchecked leads to apathy and despair.
Accepting that leaders are not perfect doesn’t mean that we do not try to get the best leadership we can. The leadership of Jesus can then serve as a yardstick as to what leadership should be. His authority resides in His sacrificial servant leadership, a leadership marked by deep compassion, wisdom and ethics. These are universal values by which we should hold every earthly leader accountable even while allowing that none will fully meet that standard. But knowing what good leadership can be we work towards the best we can get. At times this may require that we stand up to tyrants. Or incompetents.
The realization that Jesus is the only leader that will never disappoint also means that our hope will not be thwarted forever. We can live in hope even in situations far from ideal because we know that He is coming again. Indeed this universal and doomed search for a perfect leader could be another talking point that allows us to point to Jesus, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords( Revelations 19:6).
Our ultimate hope is not in the next elections or in the next revolution. Our ultimate hope is in the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the meantime there is much to be done.