Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
It was less than three years ago that Boris Johnson returned to Downing Street after leading the Conservative Party to its biggest election win since 1987 – an overall majority of 80 seats.
Last week, he resigned. Where did it all go wrong?
BBC News offered five reasons for Mr Johnson’s downfall: the Chris Pincher affair; Partygate; the cost of living and tax rises; the Owen Paterson affair; and a lack of focus and ideas.
Strangely, one word was missing from the analysis: character. The Prime Minister’s charisma, although a mystery to some, has been frequently remarked on. He can be funny, warm, charming, and self-deprecating, but he’s also displayed a lack of integrity, honesty, and accountability.
Boris Johnson’s resignation came after an unprecedented wave of departures from his government. In explaining his own decision to resign as Health Secretary, Sajid Javid referenced the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. ‘I was listening to [Reverend Les Isaac] talking about the importance of integrity in public life,’ he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, ‘and, just focusing on that, I made up my mind. I went straight back to my office and drafted the resignation letter and went to see the Prime Minister later in the day.’
The prayer breakfast was a powerful occasion. I was grateful to be there. But I wonder if some of us who prayed for integrity in public life also need to repent of any tendency we have had to value charisma over character in the list of qualities we seek in leaders – across all spheres of life.
Stefan Stern and Jon Stokes argue that ‘the more uncertain the world is the more likely it is we seek charismatic leaders. They can have an overwhelming appeal. We want leaders who reduce uncertainty and provide simple answers. Charisma draws us in, entertains us, flatters us, and instils that elusive feelgood factor.’
But 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that character, not charisma, is the critical measure of leadership: ‘People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ In Hebrew, the heart not only represents life, but also the tone and quality of the character, as when a pure heart is ascribed to anyone.
If the legacy of the prayer breakfast is that people rediscover the importance of good character in leadership – whether at work, as a parent, in church life, or in our politics – history will indeed have been made, and everyone will benefit.
Image Source/ 10 Downing Street