May 2013


                                                             VIEW FROM THE PULPIT                      May Issue 2013

Leaders and Leadership       There have been many notable leaders in the history of the world, some in living memory but others further back, yet well remembered for their acts of leadership. I think of William Wilberforce who with others brought about the abolition of slavery, a landmark experience for the oppressed peoples of the Caribbean and West Africa. In our time Nelson Mandela led the way for apartheid to be dismantled and paved the way for social equality in South Africa.  Some leaders have been despotic and evil, such as Hitler who persecuted the Jews and was responsible for the death of millions of men, women and children.

The expression, ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ has been used to describe Winston Churchill and his emergence as a great leader in time of war. On June 4th. 1940 he gave the second of three major speeches in the House of Commons, he said, “We shall go on till the end. We shall fight in France. We shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island what ever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches and we shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We will never surrender." It was a rallying call to the nation for fortitude, bravery and sacrifice and proved to be successful in defeating the axis forces.

Churchill wrote an article about Moses, for whom he had great regard; he said, “The man Moses was the greatest leader of men this world had ever seen”. That was a wonderful tribute of praise to Moses the servant of God.

James Kirkup wrote in the Daily Telegraph on April 10th. a piece of David Cameron’s speech to the House of Commons concerning the passing of Lady Thatcher. ‘The Prime Minister opened a special session of Parliament, which was recalled from its Easter break to honour Lady Thatcher, who died on Monday. In more than seven hours of debate, the Commons heard words of praise for her political achievements, stories about her personal kindness, and a handful of Labour attacks on her economic and social policies. Mr Cameron said Lady Thatcher’s premiership, from 1979 to 1990, had “rescued” Britain from economic decline.’“They say that cometh the hour, cometh the man. Well in 1979 came the hour, and came The Lady,” he said. “She made the political weather. She made history. And let this be her epitaph: that she made Britain great again.”

At our Gospel meeting last Sunday we sang the hymn, ‘Christ triumphant ever reigning’, one of over one hundred hymns written by Michael Saward. When the preacher announced the hymn he reminded us that twenty years ago Michael, his daughter Jill and her friend were attacked in the vicarage at Ealing, London. Just after Lady Thatcher’s funeral Mr.Sawford wrote the following letter to the Daily Telegraph, ‘SIR – Some of your readers may recall the attack on my vicarage at Ealing in 1986, when one of my twin daughters was raped and I was beaten over the head with my cricket bat. Next day I received a sympathetic letter from Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister, and, a few days later, an invitation to Downing Street. She could hardly have been more supportive of me and my family. Before her resignation in 1990, she wrote offering me, on behalf of the Queen, a canonry at St Paul’s, which I held for 10 years up to my retirement. Naturally, I had hoped it might be possible to be present at the cathedral to share in the appreciation of her role as prime minister, and I was delighted to receive an official invitation. I can only say to people who have attacked Margaret Thatcher that there are those such as myself who have immensely welcomed her kindness to a family who had been quite unknown to her. Canon Michael Saward, Bromley, Kent.’ The ;Iron Lady’ had a compassionate heart!

Leaders of a local Church are required to have specific qualifications. When Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus he quoted about sixteen characteristics of an elder. Another word used to describe him is ‘Shepherd’ a man who leads the flock og God, protecting and providing for the flock, they were to feed the flock of God. Peter said in 1Peter 5:2, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”  He must be well grounded in the Word of God and able to instruct the saints in the assembly in order for them to follow the Lord and live good clean lives for His glory. Paul said that the overseer “Must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” These qualifications are a ‘must’ for each leader of the Church.

One often hears that a Politician’s private life should be totally private and not affect his public office. I disagree! The person who leads a country, or represents a locality in political office should be morally fit to do so, with no skeletons in the cupboard. Finance should be in the hands of a person that does not have sticky fingers. Social policies should not be made by perverted, corrupt people, but by honest clean living folk who lead by example.

Our homes should be led by a husband/father with unblemished love pervading the home. Where are the fathers who abandon their responsibility of leading the home? Leaving it to mother or grandmother to raise the children. Such men forfeit the right of respect.

Paul said to the Ephesians, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Whether a nation, Church or home, right leadership, by qualified leaders is vital.


Stan Burditt