By Dean Michele Bachmann, with Dr. Gary Roberts
Robertson School of Government
Leadership is a holy calling founded upon eternal theological and natural law principles that all humans are made in the image of God. That humanity is endowed with faith and reason to make free will ethical and moral decisions in the sacred trust of self-government.
These tenets of the consent of the governed possess deep roots in the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World in 1620 as they sought religious freedom and the ability to self-govern. The Mayflower Compact illustrated the Pilgrims’ ironclad commitment to these values. It was the first document in history to set forth the principles of equality under the law and that government is based upon the consent of the governed.
The signers of the Mayflower Compact—John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, and 38 other courageous men—understood that self-government required a moral people under God, as they modeled the foundational principles of servant leadership in which they collectively pledged to promote God’s greater will and glory.
Christian servant leadership consists of two major elements: servanthood (promoting the growth and well-being of others); and stewardship in the skillful management of the resources that God provides with integrity and competence.
Servant leaders promote altruistic ends, sacrificing personal comfort and self-interest for the greater good. As Scripture notes, the greatest sacrifice and gift is to lay down your life for others. We see this fleshed out during that first terrible winter when almost half of the 102 Pilgrims lost their lives in establishing a colony in a new land that would change the world.
The Mayflower Compact’s emphasis on self-government became the foundation of our nation as further developed and refined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. As with our personal Christian sanctification development, it is an ongoing and never perfected process as these eternal principles of self-government are imperfectly implemented and require continuous growth, struggle, and repentance for falling short.
Scripture and history demonstrate that to implement and maintain the holy principles of self-government and the consent of the governed, we need people of godly character and competence to combat the centrifugal forces of evil that govern this fallen world.
Self-government and the consent of the governed are continuously under assault. We need men and women of exceptional servant leadership, character and competency in each generation to maintain the foundation and build upon the framework using what the Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:12 as the truth and love-based materials of “precious metal, jewels and stone.”
Our nation was blessed with God-fearing, founding, servant leader fathers such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Witherspoon, followed by Abraham Lincoln—who preserved the union and its democratic principles.
Another excellent example of servant leadership in government is the work of William Wilberforce, the great British statesmen and committed Christian who led the effort to abolish slavery.
The Robertson School of Government (RSG) has the great and humbling honor and privilege of instructing students in governmental servant leadership principles from a Christian worldview.
As our mission states: The Robertson School of Government trains leaders who desire to strengthen the ethical and moral foundation of Judeo-Christian principles in government and who are called to preserve individual freedom, representative democracy, and constitutional government.
The educational process at RSG provides students with the foundational Christian servant leadership principles to be “light and salt” in the governmental sphere, to be that next generation of Josephs, Daniels, and Esthers who possess the ability to lead, change the culture, and serve both “God and Caesar” without compromising biblical principles.
The principle of self-government and the consent of the governed remains an imperfect ideal, as evidenced by our nation’s ongoing political, social, economic, and religious conflict. RSG students are taught to seek and promote the truth where it leads; to be able to speak truth to power in love; and to “test the spirits” to ensure that motives, means and ends of personal and professional conduct and policy promote greater good and honor God.
There is no Democratic, Republican or Independent vision of reality from a Christian worldview, but only Christ’s eternal truth. The ideals that the Pilgrims eloquently stated in the Mayflower Compact were purified in the tests of the fires of death, suffering and self-deprivation. Those ideals are still at the heart of political debate today as both major political parties seek a more perfect system in implementing the consent of the governed, as illustrated by their respective focus on election integrity and voter access.
RSG students understand that today’s leaders in government must seek both knowledge and wisdom. And only godly wisdom can preserve our nation’s values-based foundation. It requires leaders dedicated to all three forms of ethical reasoning, deontology (or principle-based conduct, i.e., thou shall not lie), teleological reasoning (or promoting the greater good), and character virtue such as humility, integrity, courage, and forgiveness producing the fruit of the Spirit.
Without a nuanced understanding of morality based upon prayer and leading of the Holy Spirit, we will not be able to resist the cunning and camouflaged allure of pride which exalts the self and reduces the ability to resolve conflict and compromise appropriately. This was the genius of William Wilberforce and his principled approach to politics, which is summarized below:
- Our Christian faith is a deep personal commitment that transforms all our lives: no compartmentalization of the sacred and secular.
- Work collaboratively according to 1 Corinthians 12 and the Body of Christ analogy principles, emphasizing humility, teamwork, networking, and cooperation.
- A student biblical ethos to work for the greater good of society.
- Act thoughtfully on every issue, study wholly and thoroughly before assuming a position, pray and reflect, test ideas and spirits (1 John 4:1).
- Approach the study and practice of government from a biblical framework while avoiding strictly partisan positions and interests.
RSG is dedicated to these principles of Christian leadership in government, a sacred trust, and a humbling undertaking that requires the power, strength, and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Let us continue to honor prior generations’ sacrifices through an unswerving commitment to individual freedom, representative democracy, and constitutional government, as epitomized by the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”