Observing the reaction of folks to government leadership during this pandemic has been very enlightening. After decades of studying leadership, exercising leadership, and mentoring leaders, I have realized something. Maybe I should have been teaching more on Follower-ship.
- Leaders must step up and provide clear, courageous direction for their constituency during times of crisis.
One of the gifts mentioned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 is the gift of administrations. The word used for administrations can be used to describe a helmsman of a sailing vessel. The helmsman is the person responsible for steering the ship. The duties of the helmsman are shared by others on board. Whenever the vessel enters troubled waters, the helmsman assumes responsibility and steers the ship safely through the threat.
Political leaders are the helmsmen of society. There are times, such as the current pandemic, when humankind faces emergency conditions as it passes through troubled waters. Through enacted laws, our democratic institutions have outlined the circumstances under which an emergency declaration can be made by elected leaders and what these leaders can legally do during the emergency.
Here is a link to information related to Oregon’s laws: https://www.oregon.gov/oem/Documents/decl_guide.pdf
Governors who honor the emergency guidelines outlined by the laws of their state are not usurping authority. These leaders are not infringing on the constitutional rights of its citizens. They are exercising their legal rights as elected leaders. By law, we as citizens have agreed to limit some of our constitutional rights and freedoms in times of emergency. We do this for the good of the community. If we feel like our legal rights have somehow been abridged during a crisis, we can work within the democratic system to change the laws.
2. Leaders have a perspective unique to their position. Our states elect governors, and we expect them to have a grasp of the “big” picture. For example, a rural perspective and an urban perspective are quite different. The governor should take both views into consideration when making decisions. For example, our governor recently met with County Commissioners from eastern Oregon to discuss plans for opening up the state.
3. To live and thrive in a community, we create authority structures.
a. Practically, authority structures define responsibilities that help create order within society.
b, Spiritually, authority structures provide channels for honor to flow. When honor flows, blessings enter, especially when that honor flows both directions.
“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.””
(Ephesians 6:1–3, NLT)
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.“ (Romans 13:1–7, NKJV)
The ultimate governing authority at the time of this writing was the Roman government lead by Caesar, a dictator. The Romans allowed the Jews a certain measure of self-rule. Not long after Paul penned this passage, the Roman army laid siege to Jerusalem, eventually destroying the city and the temple.
One way of honoring leaders is to intercede for them.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–4, NLT)
I think our western governors have acted responsibly and in a timely manner to navigate their states through this current pandemic. I am content to follow the leadership of our governor, Kate Brown. I do not feel like my constitutional rights are being violated or that the government is usurping authority. When this crisis abates, we will have time to evaluate how we personally navigated these troubled waters and how our governmental leaders handled the helm. If anyone disagrees with how their governor governed during the crisis, they can express their opinion at the ballot box. Anyone who does not agree with their state laws regarding emergency situations can lobby their legislators. During a crisis, it is helpful to be supportive of one’s state and local leaders.
Here is some insightful information from each western state.
February 28, 2020
First confirmed case of Covid-19
Governor Kate Brown created a coronavirus response team composed of directors or other representatives of 12 state agencies.
March 8, 2020
Governor Kate Brown Declares State of Emergency to Address Coronavirus
March 23, 2020
Governor Brown issued a statewide stay-at-home order with class C misdemeanor charges for violators.
Covid-19 cases per 100,000 in Oregon as of May 4, 2020 = 64
January 21, 2020
The first confirmed case of COVID-19
February 29, 2020
Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide emergency due to the spread of coronavirus.
March 23, 2020
Governor Jay Inslee issued a statewide stay-at-home order.
Covid-19 cases per 100,000 in Washington as of May 4, 2020 = 208
January 26, 2020
The first confirmed case of COVID-19
March 04, 2020
Governor Newsom declares a state of emergency to help the state prepare for a broader spread of COVID-19.
March 19, 2020
Governor Gavin Newsom announced a mandatory statewide stay-at-home order.
Covid-19 cases per 100,000 in California as of May 4, 2020 = 139
Covid-19 cases per 100,000 as of May 4, 2020
Highest Rate = New York – 1654
Lowest Rate = Hawaii/Montana – 43