By Tim Ellsworth
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–An absence of morality, not a lack of money, is responsible for many of the problems facing the United States, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told the 2009 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference June 22 in Louisville, Ky.
“Wall Street did not melt down because it was a money problem,” Huckabee said. “It melted down because there was a moral problem, and it’s high time we address that what really is breaking this country is not a lack of money. It’s a lack of morality, and without righteousness and character our nation will perish.”
Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and now host of a program on the FOX News Channel, compared the role of a politician to that of a pastor and said it’s important for such leaders not to amass power themselves, but to empower the people they are leading.
“We are creating an entire nation in which people are increasingly turning to a new god — the god of government — to do for us what we ought to be doing for ourselves, starting with raising our kids, taking care of our families and protecting and preserving life and the institutions of this great nation,” Huckabee said.
Huckabee used the story of Abimelech, the son of Gideon, in Judges 9 to warn about the dangers of concentrating too much power in the hands of too few. Abimelech was a power-hungry man who promised to simplify the lives of his followers. But instead, Abimelech killed 70 of his brothers.
Placing too much power in the hands of too few is a sure way to collapse an organization, Huckabee said, whether it is a church or a nation.
“It is not wise for pastors to believe that all of the power should rest solely in them,” Huckabee said. “The purpose of the pastor is not to retain power but to embolden and empower those to whom he is equipping, so that they will in fact do the work of the ministry.
“We today need to recognize that real leadership is not about bringing power to ourselves, but it is about bringing power to those that we are to serve.”
Huckabee acknowledged the challenges that come with serving as a pastor. He led a Southern Baptist church for 12 years before assuming public office, and told pastors he understood how difficult their work often is.
“The toughest politics I ever faced was not running for president or running for governor or lieutenant governor, it was being a pastor in a Southern Baptist church,” Huckabee said. “Folks, them are some tough politics out there if you’ve never experienced it.”
What’s often frustrating for pastors, Huckabee said, is not the enormity of their role, but the smallness of it. A pastor may believe he is leading a warship into battle, only to discover that the expectation of church members is for him to captain the love boat and make sure everyone is having a good time.
As in churches, Huckabee said Christians cannot afford the luxury of thinking small in the culture in which they live — because so much is on the line, starting with families. The family is the most basic unit of government that God ordained, Huckabee said, and that’s where government should begin.
“A mom and dad ought to be raising kids,” he said. “And they will always raise better kids than any nanny state or any government because it is God’s responsibility given to those parents to raise those kids.”
As the leaders in the home, Huckabee said the purpose of parents is to build independence in their children so they will self-govern and learn to make the right decisions on their own.
“Something is horribly amiss in which we are afraid to tell our kids that some things are always right and some things are always wrong,” Huckabee said. “Folks, the moral absolutes of this universe are critical if we’re going to have succeeding generations who can survive, thrive and pass on any semblance of human life.”
Huckabee also touched on several moral issues of the day, denouncing abortion and homosexual marriage, and he encouraged pastors and Christians to remain faithful in their work until the end — because no matter how world events play out, Huckabee said Christians have no reason to be timid or afraid.
“The Bible makes it very clear that the outcome is a good one — maybe not as we see it here, but in the end, Jesus wins,” Huckabee said. “And I’m willing to say that for those of us who will, standing with Him is never a mistake. Standing for what He stands for will never lead us wrong, and being who He calls us to be will never leave us embarrassed or ashamed.”
Tim Ellsworth is director of news and information at Union University.