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Power, Pride & the Fall: Reflections on our leaders and the Easter message (opinion)

By Chris Reid

As I reflect about current events this Easter season, I am constantly reminded of a proverb I learned when I was a child which simply stated “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor”. The great theologian T.S. Elliot summed this thought up best when he said “Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important”.

As a student of history and politics, it is truly amazing how many great leaders fall because they give into the trappings of pride. In Alabama, our governor had to resign in shame & disgrace because he became conceited with his power, and in doing so neglected the love of his wife of 50 years for the temporal pleasure of a younger subordinate. Governor Bentley learned the truth behind the proverb that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

Becoming powerful is not inherently wrong, all of us should seek to use our influence to make this world a better place, but we must realize that seeking power for its own end is as frivolous as chasing after the wind, because we can never obtain enough power to bring us peace, nor receive enough praise to find joy.

The message of Easter is that the infinite God of the universe became a mortal man and lived among us, so that we could be saved from the consequences of our sins and know eternal life through Jesus Christ. Jesus left the glory of heaven and humbled himself to show us that the purpose of life isn’t to glorify ourselves…. but to glorify God.

I am glad that the state and federal government is pushing for stronger ethics laws, and that our leaders know there are consequences for unchecked pride…. But what we need most in any leader is someone who is there to serve and not be served. The happiest people I have met in my life are those who seek to serve and who consider the needs of others ahead of themselves.

Our culture is constantly telling us that the way to find contentment is by the endless pursuit of power, fame and possessions, but the gospel teaches us that those things are bottomless pits that can never satisfy. Jesus said it best when he said “in me you will have peace, but in the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. As I reflect on the vision I have for my own life, I am hopeful that I will remember the simple truth that only in Christ can I ever find what it is I am looking for.

I am by nature an ambitious man, but unchecked ambition has often led to forced humility. The Lord gives each of us different gifts and abilities and the key is to remember that those things come from him and not ourselves, and when we live our lives for our own glory we will soon be humbled. My friends the truth is that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, so remember to humble yourself before the Lord and let him lift you up.

The Lord will never turn his back on his children and even our “Luv Gov” will receive mercy when his heart turns back to the Lord. I do think that our former governor does know the lord and he will return to him in time, and maybe the Lord had to take the governorship away from him so he could see that no earthly title is better than knowing what it means to be at peace with God.

I also think we should humbly realize that all of us our capable of falling just like the governor, and we must remember to say “but for your grace go I”. I do hope all those who have been hurt by the governor will forgive him and seek to reconcile with him and restore him gently to the Lord. The truth of Easter isn’t that we were great, but that the Lord decided to love and pursue while we were yet sinners.

I don’t know what you’re going through this day but I would leave with quote from my favorite theologian St. Augustine who said “I found no rest until I found it in you oh Lord”. Enjoy your time with your families and I hope all of you find rest during this Easter season. God Bless.


Mr. Reid is general practice attorney in Birmingham Alabama. He has worked for Republican leadership in the United State House of Representatives in Washington, DC, and was a health policy advisor to the Governor of Alabama. You can contact him by email at chris.reid@reidlawalabama.com or by phone at 205-913-7406. A description of his practice areas is available at www.reidlawalabama.com.