Timothy Geithner and Tom Daschle have been in the news lately because they failed to pay sizable sums in federal income taxes. They failed to pay, that is, until they were nominated to prestigious positions in President Obama’s cabinet.
President Obama has promised an ethical and transparent administration, yet he continued to affirm his nomination of Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury and Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services after each was discovered to have been derelict in paying his taxes.
Now, of course, the men have ‘fessed up and paid up and are “embarrassed” at their “oversights.” Geithner was approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate and Daschle, according to press reports, will be. We have been told that these men are too valuable, given the current set of crises facing our nation, to have their nominations derailed by something evidently as trite as a pattern of failure to pay all their income taxes.
Little reveals the hypocrisy of leaders as when they promise one thing and then renege on basic promises. President Obama has pledged to lead an ethical administration, but nominating men who have failed to pay their income taxes reveals that ethics are really not that important. The pledge was great for votes but evidently worthless for governing. It is little wonder that Americans share a pervasive cynicism about their federal government.
Though few would dare say it, Geithner and Daschle have revealed themselves as either white-collar crooks or irresponsible ninnies. Either way, neither has displayed the personal character needed to lead these vital departments of the President’s administration.
That said, think about our churches. We place in positions of leadership elders and deacons who fail to display the character needed to lead and serve their congregations. A fellow pastor told me of a situation in his small church in which a deacon was known to have left his wife and was living with another woman. This deacon continued to serve in his office, continued to attend worship services, and remained unrepentant about his sin. In addition, the pastor was warned not to do anything about the situation. The deacon was too valuable for the church to lose him. That’s the same “logic” we heard about the need to confirm Geithner despite his tax woes.
As poorly as Geither and Daschle reflect upon President Obama’s administration and upon the President’s judgment, an even greater evil exists when churches ordain and continue to support men who have shown themselves to be unfit for their sacred office. Pastors who fail to pay their bills, deacons who fail to honor their wives, elders who put their children’s soccer practice above the appointed meetings of their churches–these and countless other offenses are much more troubling than the affirmation of degenerates such as Secretary Geithner and soon-to-be Secretary Daschle. The purity and honor of God’s church is at stake.
It is not without good reason that elders and deacons are to be men who are “blameless” (1 Timothy 3:2, 10). That doesn’t mean they never sin, but it does there is no valid accusation of a pattern of wrongdoing that can be held against them. Perhaps the reason our churches are viewed cynically is that we continue to be led by men of disrepute and no one raises a voice of concern.