As our nation moves closer to the election, we will undoubtedly see more and more viciousness from the outer-limits of journalism and politics similar to what we have seen directed toward Sarah Palin in recent weeks leading up to the Vice Presidential debate. After unrelenting negative press and ruthless attacks on her intelligence and qualifications, we watched the debate last night with bated breath, and we reveled in relief and amazement that this remarkable woman from Alaska not only held her own against a seasoned senator and master debater, but shined. Governor Palin’s enthusiasm and articulate but folksy style energized the Republicans as well as a nation of curious onlookers, digging out the McCain campaign from a downhill slide once again. Impressive!
But this blog isn’t about the debate or Sarah Palin per se. My reaction to Sarah Palin went beyond the interest of a voter in a candidate, to that of a leader watching another leader lead. I was struck by the fact that Governor Palin doesn’t let evil get under her skin. The press and her political opponents have led unfair and malicious attacks against her family, her character, and her success. But she shakes it off and keeps smiling, keeps leading, keeps learning, and keeps pushing toward her goal. What an inspiration. I want to walk in that same kind of confidence, in the knowledge that God has brought me to a place of leadership for “such a time as this.”
I don’t have many detractors or critics, but like other leaders, my husband and I have been unfairly attacked and criticized by those who were jealous or insecure and instead of talking to us, decided to talk about us. On a smaller scale, we have experienced some of what Governor Palin has experienced. But what I love about her is that she puts her critics firmly in the distance, away from her inner core, away from her world view, her integrity, her behavior as a leader, and her focus. It is as if her enemies are not allowed access for very long to her thought life. They are irrelevant to her goal, therefore they are off the radar. I do have a sneaking suspicion that she still remains aware of their whereabouts. My mom used to say if you get bit by a snake, you may forgive it, but always know where it is.
Sarah Palin’s snakes have been politicians and media mongers doing what politicians and media mongers do - manipulating and deceiving. We kind of expect it and shortly get over it after the dust settles. But when the snakes are Christian leaders who stoop to those same tactics to get a change they want or to climb the ladder of success, it is impossible to process through a Christian worldview. That kind of unethical behavior is out of sync with Scripture. Integrity and honesty are cornerstones of Christian leadership, and when they are treated as "situational" it leaves me sad and frustrated. Thankfully, this is not as common a problem in the Christian realm as in the political realm; but it is a problem nevertheless, and it seems to be growing.
Sarah Palin has taught me that snakes or no snakes, my first priority is to keep living the Christian life, keep smiling, keep leading, keep learning, and keep pushing toward the goal of the high calling in Christ Jesus. If I can do that, as she has done, perhaps I may be an inspiration to those still seeking a leader with integrity.