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A careful reader of this blog sent me an email last week and reminded me that I wrote a blog on Barack Obama on June 1, 2006. I had to look at the date more than once to imagine that I had actually written about Obama in this way at that point in time. Now I am not generally so able to judge what might happen, but it seems that I did in this case. My friend urged me to post this blog again in August of 2008. After some reflection I agreed. I felt Obama would be the nominee long before he entered the race for all the reasons that have proven true. Now I wonder if he will finish the deal and become the president. He should enjoy a big lead right now, but does not. I think voters are still learning about him. I hope they take the time to really study his record, or lack thereof, and get to know who he is and who his closest friends are as well.

Here then is my old blog, once again, now 26 months later.

From: June 1, 2006

Since I live in Illinois I hear more than my fair share of the hype about our charismatic and appealing Senator Barack Obama (D. – IL), who is seen by some as a viable presidential candidate in 2008. It appears that there is a substantial group of Democrats who want anybody but Hillary (Sen. Hillary Clinton, D. – NY), who is seen as too polarizing. If former Vice-President Al Gore does not run, and this is still anybody’s guess, then Obama’s chances dramatically increase, so it seems.

Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune columnist, summed up the case for Obama’s run in ‘08 in yesterday’s edition (May 31). Zorn wrote that he was fully aware of Obama’s shortcomings; e.g., little foreign policy experience, a complete lack of accomplishments on the national stage, and an apparent unwillingness to spend his political capital on unpopular positions. He writes, “Plans and philosophies are important, sure. But everyone in the game has a surplus of those.” Zorn even admits that Obama has already made clumsy moves that have alienated “his core supporters.” But none of this deters Zorn, and others, from promoting Obama as the best candidate to lead the party in 2008. Why? He answers in this amazing sentence:

[He has] an appealing personality, an optimistic vision and the aura of leadership . . . [which] are a lot more important to voters choosing a president than long years in the legislative trenches or endless lists of programs initiated (or eliminated) at a governor’s desk.

I think Eric Zorn is right. And this is precisely what gives me profound pause, and deep concern, about our present way of choosing national leaders. It is no longer necessary to demonstrate proven qualities of leadership, years of service to your country, or real administrative ability. What you need is “an optimistic vision and the aura of leadership.” What is even sadder than this national political reality is that the same is true in many evangelical churches. This is precisely how we choose a new pastor. The world has “squeezed us into its mold” in this case. Many of our churches choose pastors based on their appeal factor rather than on the requirements of a proven character, tested and tried leadership, and real (pastoral) service to sheep.

If you don’t believe me, watch some larger evangelical church committee function as it seeks a new senior pastor. I had such a discussion with the member of one search committee yesterday. Sadly I saw this scenario unfolding once again as I listened to how this committee is proceeding and processing names. Most of the people in the pews don’t even realize this is happening. I doubt that most would care so long as they get the type of person they feel good about. No wonder most of our churches are in a spiritual mess. Proven character and pastoral skills in shepherding people are not nearly as important today as is public giftedness and an aura of leadership.