There is no true prosperity, equality or justice without righteousness. Don’t let anyone fool you. They don’t exist.
This idea may seem more timely because we’re in a political season full of all kinds of rhetoric, but the reality is this is true every day. When it comes to pastors and other leaders, it is one thing to say the right things — it is another thing entirely to actually live and lead from righteousness. Leaders gain a following for many different reasons: position, charisma, policies. But over time, only an authentic foundation of righteousness bears consistent, dependable and other-oriented fruit (that is, that helps other people not just one’s self). Only righteousness produces the foundation of trust that is necessary to deal with the hard realities of inequity, injustice and the overall condition of those we serve.
Righteousness is the way one lives. It is directly related to one’s character. Well-developed plans and promises are enticing; but the wake left by one’s character tells the real story. How are people treated (especially in really hard circumstances)? What are the person’s real convictions? Does one lead as a boss or an “expert,” or as a servant of those in his or her employ?
When looking for leaders — whether pastors or presidents — character and spiritual maturity matter most. Righteous living and leading are products of these, and we overlook them to our own peril.