Life Lessons from Our President and Congress on How Not to Live
by Pastor Dan White
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Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it. I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. - Will Rogers
I enjoy people and enjoy hearing their stories. The same goes with our political leaders as well. Since grade school, George Washington has been one of my favorite heroes.
Even though I may not agree with their politics, I find the stories of how men ascended to the presidency interesting and often inspirational. Woodrow Wilson was a preacher’s son who lived his childhood in Augusta, Georgia. His memories of wounded and maimed Confederate soldiers arriving to be treated in Augusta hospitals made him desire world peace. The United Nations can be traced back to his yearnings for world peace.
Jimmy Carter, the only Georgian ever elected to the Presidency, was an insignificant peanut farmer from an insignificant crossroads village. I went to seminary with his county extension agent who was studying for a new career as an agricultural missionary and enjoyed the stories he told me about working with Jimmy to make his farm successful.
Who would have ever thought a movie actor would become President? Ronald Reagan is one of the most beloved president’s of my lifetime.
And, there is Bill Clinton and Barak Obama rising to the highest office in the land from dysfunctional and broken families. Truly, America is the land of opportunity where anyone can succeed in anything.
Sometimes, there are qualities to emulate in our political leaders and sometimes, there are defects to avoid at all costs.
Here are a few lessons we can learn on how NOT to live from our current political leadership.
First, don’t live from crisis to crisis as our President does. Granted, crises do arise for the President, and there are those 3AM phone calls. But ever since President Obama has been in office, it’s been one crisis after another. He seems to make a crisis out of everything. I wonder if he ever takes time to think, plan, and pray instead of immediately reacting to every perceived emergency.
In his inauguration speech on January 20, 2009, he started his Presidency in crisis mode. He said, “That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.”
He then used crisis management to influence Congress to fund an almost trillion dollar stimulus. Obama stated on February 8, 2009, “If we do not move swiftly to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus act) into law, an economy that is already in crisis will be faced with catastrophe … [It is] the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” He borrowed almost $1 trillion authorized by Congress to pour into the economy hoping to revive it out of the doldrums.
A few weeks later, the President declared another crisis, the mortgage crisis. He said, "Taken together, the provisions of this plan will help us end this [mortgage] crisis and preserve for millions of families their stake in the American Dream.” The President spent $75 billion on the mortgage crisis.
A few months later, our President reacted to another felt crisis and pressured Congress to pass his massive health care reform proposal. He said on June 15, 2009, “Make no mistake: the cost of our health care is a threat to our economy...It is a ticking time-bomb for the federal budget.” It has been estimated that this bill will cost the federal government almost $1 trillion over ten years which will probably create another monetary crisis for him or a future president.
Now, the President says we are in another crisis. If the government’s debt ceiling isn’t raised, the bills can’t be paid. To get through this crisis, he said that raising the debt ceiling “ensures also that we will not face this same kind of crisis again in six months, or eight months, or 12 months.”
Our federal government has gone through $14.3 trillion in borrowed money, and now the President says we are in a crisis. This week, he got Congressional authorization to borrow $2.4 trillion more.
Our President manages the government by jumping from one crisis to another. The President’s management style is an example of how not to live.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live from crisis to crisis. I like to make both short range and long range plans for my life, my writing ministry, and my church.
I’ve met and known people who live in crises like our President apparently does. If they aren’t in a crisis mode, they will create a crisis. It must be some sort of an adrenalin rush for them
Yes, unforeseen and genuine crises pop up in our lives. I’ve had my share of them. When those times come, I receive strength from God’s Word.
Proverbs 16:9 assures us that God is in control in times of crisis. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”
And this verse from Psalm 37: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”
Second, don’t live beyond your means as our President and Congress does. In March of this year, revenues collected by the Internal Revenue Service was $128.18 billion. The U.S. Treasurer issued checks that month for $1.0528 trillion. To cover those checks, Obama’s Treasurer, Timothy Geithner, had to borrow $786.5 billion to cover March’s deficit spending.
This kind of borrowing and spending authorized by the Congress and overseen by Presidents and their Treasury Department has, over time, brought our nation to the brink of bankruptcy.
Our President and Congress gives us another example of how NOT to live. If everyone in this nation followed their example, every person, every family, every business would be bankrupt and have little or nothing.
Forty-three cents out of every dollar spent by the United States Treasurer is borrowed. Imagine living like our Congress and President does! We couldn’t do it for long.
God’s warning about living beyond our means is quite plain. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
Vance Havner, an old time Baptist evangelist, used to preach, “Debt and the devil are first cousins. Stay away from both!”
Third, money can’t buy love. The psychological term for this is co-dependency. That is, a person who is desperate to be loved and liked by others and does almost anything to try and receive love. Co-dependency means giving and giving and giving in hopes that you will be liked, accepted, affirmed, and loved.
Our President and Congress have a bad neurotic case of co-dependency. In an effort to buy friendship, Congress appropriates billions of dollars in aid to many countries who don’t support our policies. Some countries that receive aid from the United States even hate us. Don’t be like Congress.
It’s so bad that South Carolina Representative Jeff Duncan proposed that Congress cut off foreign aid to countries that voted against the United States’ position in the United Nations more than 50% of the time.
Congress gives $2.96 billion to Pakistan annually. Yet, after our Navy Seals went into in Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden, one of the most wicked men to ever walk the earth, Pakistan showed that money can’t buy friendship. They expelled at least 90 U.S. soldiers who were training Pakistani troops in counterinsurgency and severely cut back on cooperating with our Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Lesson three is that you can’t buy people’s friendship or love. The President and Congress teach us that no matter how nice you are, how much you help them, or how much money you give them, some people just aren’t going to like you. In other words, if you cut off the money, the recipient ends the relationship. To continue to try and buy their friendship is foolish.
Instead, real friends love without being bought. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17),.
Fourth, pay your taxes. New York Congressman, Charles Rangel, did not pay his federal income taxes on income from property he owns in the Dominican Republic for at least three years. Further, he was so delinquent on his property taxes in Gloucester County, New York, that the county recently filed a tax lien against his property. This was the sixth time that the local government filed a tax lien against him. Even worse, Rangel serves on the House Ways and Means Committee which writes the nation’s tax code making the tax laws that you and I have to obey.
As for taxes, Jesus tells us "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21).
These examples from our President and Congress are certainly not the way to live or examples for our children and grandchildren to imitate.
On the other hand, President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) summarized the way we and our government leaders should live. He said, “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country."
Yes, there are some good qualities in some of our political leaders past and present that we can admire and teach to our children.
Political leaders like President Calvin Coolidge and men and women like him are worthy examples.
May our political leaders and us be like the Apostle Paul who said, “Join with others in following my example, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you” (Philippians 3:17).
Contact Pastor White at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Amen! This is a very good analysis and lesson for us all. Somebody has brought the numbers (trillions) down to a meaningful size by likening our government to a family that makes $50-some thousand a year, but annually spends $75 thousand, with a credit card debt over $300,000. How do we ever get out from under such a burden? Rather, we should live with something in reserve so we're able to help in times of need. Please let me know if I can post a link to this on my facebook wall. Thanks so much for your good writing!