Lonely at the top

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German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) once noted: “Auf der Höhe muss es einsam sein” (“at the height it must be lonely”). He could have been reading today’s news.

Donald Trump was campaigning this week in Buffalo, New York before Tuesday’s primary. Invoking memories of 9/11, he told the crowd: “It’s very close to my heart because I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen down at 7/11, down at the World Trade Center right after it came down, and I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action.” His slip of the tongue immediately made national headlines.

Glenn Beck is in the news as well. The reason is that he’s no longer in the news. Beck left Fox News in 2011 to expand his own media empire. He turned TheBlaze into a multimedia platform, signed a deal with Dish TV to reach into over ten million homes, and expanded operations in New York and Dallas. Now The Washington Post notes that his business has fallen apart, with massive cuts and growing irrelevance to the national conversation.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is also making headlines. He has apologized repeatedly for his administration’s role in Flint’s lead-tainted water crisis. Now he says he will drink Flint water at home and at work for at least a month. He’s trying to show residents that the water is safe with the use of a faucet filter.

The higher we climb the ladder of leadership, the more visible we are to everyone else. If we fall, we hurt everyone on the ladder below us. That’s why personal integrity is so critical to public leadership.

Consider Monica Lewinsky, back in the news after she gave a recent interview on her relationship with President Bill Clinton. She admits that after the scandal broke she came “very close” to suicide. “The shame sticks to you like tar,” she says. Now she has devoted herself to battling bullying and is working to reclaim her identity and future. Private sin became public shame. If Satan has his way, it always will.

There’s a metaphor for this principle: “mechanical doping.” That’s how The New York Times describes hidden technology being used by cyclists to motorize their bikes. Thermal scanners are now being employed to catch cheaters. A Belgian cyclist has already quit the sport after being discovered.

Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real. As Moses warned, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). The good news is that God forgives all we confess (1 John 1:9) and forgets all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25). The bad news is that the consequences of sin can last after the sin is forgiven. If you drive a nail into wood, you can remove the nail but the hole remains.

So today is the day to ask the Holy Spirit to help you be holy. Surrender yourself entirely to his leading and empowering (Ephesians 5:18). Ask him to bring to your mind anything that displeases God and confess all that comes to your thoughts. Claim his forgiving grace.

Then walk through your day practicing his presence. Pray about your opportunities and challenges. Ask his help with every temptation you face. Ask for his restoring grace if you do fall. Stay close to the One whose power will enable you to live abundantly (John 10:10). And rejoice in the fact that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

God does not call the equipped—he equips the called. If he has called you to leadership, he will enable you to fulfill your call. It’s not lonely at the top—the King of kings is already there.