Why Leaders Must Speak with Clarity
Posted in Leadership by Benham Brothers | October 6th, 2015
Don’t you find it confusing when leaders nuance their speech instead of clearly speaking what they believe? Even the pope threw us off a few times in his visit to America as the media tried to pin down exactly what he meant when he spoke. The diverse headlines were interesting to read.
This is why we believe it’s vital today for a leader to be abundantly clear when speaking; otherwise, the narrative crafted around his or her words will lead to confusion. And where there’s confusion, people are not easily led to the truth.
The Apostle Paul revealed this when he confronted Peter for not being “straightforward about the truth of the gospel” in Galatians 2. (Peter wasn’t being clear on the truth that Christ fulfilled the Jewish ceremonial laws, like circumcision, not eating pork, etc.)
As a result of Peter’s lack of clarity, Paul had to publicly correct him. The famous commentator, Matthew Henry, said this of Peter’s lack of clarity: “The timid conduct of Peter, by withdrawing from the gentiles, led others to think these ceremonies were necessary.”
Even though Peter knew the truth, his lack of clarity on the issue led others to believe the opposite. This is why Paul had to confront Peter publicly in front of all – because other people were being led astray.
This is exactly what’s happening today on a variety of hot-button issues in America (life, marriage, religious liberty, etc.). So it’s refreshing when a pastor or politician speaks clearly, removing all doubt in the mind of the hearer. Unfortunately, this is rare to hear.
The problem is that many of today’s leaders nuance their speech when they address certain issues – if they address them at all. They try to voice their convictions in such a way so as not to receive negative feedback. Yet that’s precisely what clarity does – it exposes the speaker to attack. (In “Rules for Radicals,” Saul Alinsky advocated this tactic as the blueprint for tearing down traditional values.)
As a result of this “Alinsky” type of environment, we have lots of little “Peters” leading us. They timidly use nuance in regard to biblical and/or conservative values, which has led many Americans astray. Biblical values continue to be maligned in the press and voted against in the government, leading to confusion not only in culture, but in the church as well.
Pastors mustn’t forget that the Apostle Paul taught that God was not a “God of confusion.” He explained how Christians were to speak clearly when they gathered together (in the context of spiritual gifts, yet the rule applies across the board): “So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air” (1 Corinthians 14:9).
And that’s just it – when leaders lack clarity (inside or outside the church), they are just “speaking into the air.” This is today’s leadership environment.
But here’s the good news – times are changing! Leaders in the church and in government are emerging. And the telltale sign of their leadership is courageous clarity when they speak!
A few weeks ago we listened as pastor Jacob Aranza, megachurch pastor in Lafayette, Louisiana, stood in front of hundreds of pastors in Dallas, Texas, clearly describing the spiritual environment in America. As a Mexican-American, pastor Aranza said he was doubling down on his efforts to equip his congregation on what the Bible teaches about life and the sanctity of marriage. There wasn’t a shred of nuance in his speech. With thousands of Latinos under his leadership, his clear influence could be a game-changer for biblical values in America.
Pastors like Jacob are rising up all across the country and speaking with clarity on the stronghold issues like marriage and life. And it’s encouraging politicians to do the same.
Last week, we listened as Ted Cruz, a fellow believer, blew a hole in the Republican Party’s “show vote” scheme on the Senate floor. Sen. Cruz exposed how the Republicans promise their constituents results and then take “show votes” on issues, knowing such votes will fail. He said, “The leadership … will schedule a vote on just about anything, confident that Senate Democrats will vote party-line and filibuster over and over again until Republicans retreat. Leadership wants and expects grassroots voters to be satisfied with these meaningless show votes.”
Just as Sen. Cruz described, the GOP Senate held a “show vote” to defund Planned Parenthood. The measure was voted down 47-52, with 46 Republicans voting to stop funding. But, as Cruz said they would do, the GOP leadership immediately said they would vote on another bill to fully fund all current expenditures … including Planned Parenthood. That vote took place on Monday, Sept 28, and 27 Republicans changed their stance and voted to advance the bill that fully funds Planned Parenthood. On the final vote, Planned Parenthood received its funding from the Republican-led House and Senate, just as Sen. Cruz said it would.
The “show vote” to defund Planned Parenthood was simply a nuanced way to provide cover for Republicans who don’t want to support the will of their constituents. In this case, these Republicans revealed that they don’t really care about their constituents or the unborn. To them, keeping the government open another week was more important than ending taxpayer support for ripping apart innocent babies.
Thankfully, Ted Cruz stood up and spoke with such clarity on this issue that it has eliminated all confusion, and now many of us can see clearly what “show votes” truly are and how pathetic Republican leadership has become.
If you’re in a leadership position today, now is not the time to cowardly use nuance but to courageously speak with clarity!
This eliminates all confusion and leads people to the truth instead of away from it. And if you’re an average citizen, make sure the leader you are following, whether pastor or politician, is not speaking in nuance. It’s time for them to get in the game and be clear when they speak!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net