The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Liz Truss, has just resigned.
A mere 45 days in office, she will go down in history as a footnote with little more than a sentence on her leadership.
British Labour, of course, has had no female prime ministers. The Conservatives can boast three.
Gender though is irrelevant.
What matters is that they stand for something, and frankly let’s look at that through the prism of faith for a moment, since faith these days is the most daring manifestation of what one stands for:
Margaret Thatcher, an historic figure, a genuine practitioner of statesmanship, one who applied her compelling brand of leadership to the economic liberalisation of her country, as formidable a change-agent as you’ll ever witness, a political tour de force.
It is well-known that the Iron Lady was guided by the flinty Methodist tradition of her youth as applied-by her parents in daily life and then the Church of England in later years. Unashamedly Christian, she was a regular worshipper despite her schedule and would evangelise and preach at Oxford. She frequently commented on the links between active Christian practise, repentance, humility, charity and, through hard work, making the most of what God has provided.
Theresa May, a middle-level manager terminated for not being able to extract the nation from its Brexit quagmire.
A regular Sunday churchgoer and always cheerfully acknowledging herself as a Christian, Theresa May feels that faith in Jesus Christ is a private matter.
Liz Truss, a political mistake.
By her own admission she “shares the values of the Christian Church of England faith but am not a practising Christian.” Let me unapologetically interpret that for you: she is not a Christian. Once the penny drops, once the Gospel is embraced and understood, the Word of Our Lord Jesus Christ just doesn’t illicit a ‘not a practising Christian’ response. The Gospel is just too compelling, too demanding, too revolutionary. You are either a believer or you are not. Liz Truss is not.
With each new prime minister, we see an imperceptible slide from both practising Christianity and genuine leadership.
Are they correlated?
I say YES!
You don’t need to go much further to see the slide in leadership quality across the West and faith.
In New Zealand, we have a kind of uber-expressive Prime Minister, beaming smiles and furrowed brow of empathy all a-twitch, her every word yet another barely concealed attack on Kiwi liberties. She’s a former Mormon who left her faith in favour of gay rights, an odd rationalisation that places government policy above God. And nine of ten of our trans-Tasman cousins would need to look up the name of the National Party Opposition Leader.
Canada has been similarly plagued with faux leadership. A former part-time drama teacher leaning on his father’s pedigree is no qualification for a G7 nation. Nor is it a good sign that he’s a Roman Catholic supporting policies in contradiction to his own denomination’s instruction. To be sure, during his time in office, Prime Minister Trudeau has managed an impressively-errant array of missteps.
The C16 compelled-speech law was alarming. Imagine that: forced doublespeak contrary to all the principles of a thousand years of English common law. More recently, his Government authorised the freezing of bank accounts … wait for it … of protesters. What a doozy! Speak your mind in Canada at the risk of going penniless! And the Conservative Opposition is a revolving door policy in response.
And of United States leadership, upon which all our security relies, enough has been written and said. Where are the Ronald Reagans, the Teddy Roosevelts and the Abraham Lincolns? Where is the charismatic, breakthrough, daring and enduring leadership of today? Well may sensible people worry.
In Australia, where religion is rarely discussed in the public square let alone by politicians individually, there is little to indicate from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s history that he could muster anything approximating statesmanship. I don’t think it’s in his DNA. He just doesn’t have the presence or charisma. And to be fair, can anyone on the Right honestly say Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has cut through with bold, resonating positions? As I write this, he feels like a career politician who’s been elevated one step beyond his pay-grade. Neither seems to exude an underlying moral presence, let alone overt Christianity.
All of which is to say that we are impoverished for quality leadership animated by genuine faith.
And that poverty, my friends, is caused by YOU!
Yes, YOU the gentle Christian woman. YOU the strong Christian man.
Christian women are not encouraging their God-fearing sons, brothers and husbands to enter the political square and engage. You are telling your men to knuckle-down and just concentrate on the hunt for a dollar. You are pestering them for jobs around the home to be done. You are discouraging men of faith from being active citizens.
Christian men listen to this and are discouraged. Politics is hard work. Politics as a man of faith is even more of a challenge. The hours you’ll have to put in are enormous. You are worried your political views might cause problems at work. You are concerned you’ll lose friends over your political opinions. So you decide to stay in private life, and then wonder why we have uninspired leadership.
To all of this, I say:
Arise Christian Men!
Enter the fray. Join a Party. Bring your Christian family and friends along too. Inform yourself. Build alliances. Select Christian candidates with courageous and daring approaches. Campaign for them. Secure electoral wins so more Christians are in Parliament.
Become active today so we don’t have any more of these directionless, limpid leaders without faith. Let’s install some statesmen instead.
I say again, Arise Christian Men!