In our Fitzroy Zoom Prayer Meeting for a few years now we have prayed for World Leaders. It’s what the Bible asks of us. Let us be honest the world could do with some leaders right now.
I started thinking about leaders. Matthew writes in chapter 9 verse 36 of his Gospel account:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
In The Message Eugene Peterson paraphrases compassion with ‘his heart broke”.
This for me is the mark of good leadership. The priority of the leader is the people. Do not get me wrong, we cannot eliminate the principle of institutionalised governance BUT those things should never be the priority. Leadership is relational, emotional and compassionate. It is about people.
I feared that some would say but this is Jesus being spiritual. It might say something for Church leaders but not for politicians. Then in preparation for a sermon on John 10, a commentator suggested that when Jesus spoke about thieves and robbers climbing into the sheep pen he was not just talking about the Pharisees but the Romans too. They were after the peoples’ allegiance. There was no compassion, therefore there was oppression. I now had a robust argument and an Independent newspaper headline “Voters want more compassionate politicians” suggested I was on to something!
Many of us are heartbroken when 90 year old relations are waiting for half a day for an ambulance, when loved ones on horrendous hospital waiting lists, when our education system is over stretched, when working people are using Foodbank, when we see the homeless dying on our streets with hundreds of buildings boarded up.
We need leaders with compassion for people not a greater love for principles or ideologies, never mind outdated ideologies.
So, I am looking for the compassionate leaders. The recent budget and the cuts across our society is not the result of compassionate leadership. Some of our own politicians are to blame. The Tories trying to blame them are complicit too.
I am looking for leaders who are looking at the marginalised in our society who Jesus cared for most; the sick, the hungry, the homeless, the refugee.
A broken heart for such people and compassion upon them will drive leaders to policies of change and care. I would add that I am looking for leaders who care for ALL, not just those in their ideological constituency.