Leadership in Trying Times

Seeing the Washington Post Headline this weekend, “No end in sight: Inside the Biden administration’s failure to contain the border surge,” brought back memories of another period in my life. The Biden Administration has been in charge for a grand total of sixty days. As many comments on the article pointed out, its hard to have a failed policy, when you haven’t had time to implement the one you’ve got.

I’d been at my new church for less than sixty days. In that short time, my pastoral care load grew quickly with many serious illnesses. I had been there four weeks when one of our members suffered a serious stroke while stints were being placed in his heart.  I’d visited him in the hospital, both before and after the procedure. When  he was discharged, I called to see how he was. A family friend had answered the phone and relayed the message. That was when I heard his wife (who was not part of our church) say, “I don’t want to talk to THAT woman.” So, I didn’t call back again. It’s hard to know what to do in situations like this. But, Enid did. She called to yell at me a few days later saying, “Did you forget you have a sick man here?” Two things I knew for sure. First there are days when no matter what you do, it will be wrong. Second, that I had not been a pastor there long enough to have neglected anyone.

People crowding the border are looking for a better life. Families do not leave their homes, their loved ones and their communities without a good reason. No one crosses dangerous territory without an even greater fear of staying behind. The border crisis cannot be solved by building walls. It will only be solved by building communities.

Migrants will keep coming regardless of the president, until their home countries are both safe and prosperous for all their citizens. Homes lost in hurricanes, droughts and violence are motivations for taking the dangerous trek northward. Much better than building a wall, are efforts to build up the nations south of us. What is needed to stem the flow of migrants seeking refuge,  are nations where people can feel safe and have the resources for a good life.

Years after Enid first called me, she surprised me with another call. Her husband had died a few years earlier and I’d had little contact with her since the funeral. She said she was dying and “Wanted to apologize for the way she treated me.” I was grateful for her effort in making peace, with those she had harmed before she died. Having experienced the bad side of Enid, I suspected there were many more calls to make.

I also suspect that people will continue to seek entrance on our southern border. There are few times in our lives when a serious problem can be resolved instantly. Immigration reform and repairing broken nations are not among them.  Meanwhile, we can lift our prayers for leaders everywhere, that God will  give them all the wisdom they need, and the courage to listen. 

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” 1 Timothy 2:1-3 The Message Bible