Taking the right, not the popular, road

By Jeff Schumacher | Aug 01, 2012

I guess you could call it one of those weeks, but I am certain this one was on purpose. I can't ever remember a week when so many "like" things popped up in my life...and were all connected to one thing - joining together to make our world and community a better place.

It started on Sunday as I was attending a church service. During the sermon, there was a simulcast of a preacher whose entire message was about bringing "Godly" people back into positions of influence. As I sat there thinking that I had never been to a church where the sermon focused on leadership in our society - this one included elected officials - the more I heard, the more I understood that it is possible to make our world a better place.

The minister spoke almost exclusively about Nehemiah. Nehemiah saw that the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down, and went there to rebuild them. Not only that, but he helped rebuild the nation to a "Godly" nation where people treated each other with Godly principles, and decisions were made in line with those principles. If you really want to know what I am talking about, read about Nehemiah in the bible, or just read the short version in Wikipedia. You'll get the picture. He wasn't popular with some people, but he was truly an effective leader - using "Godly" principles.

The next day, I was afforded the opportunity to discuss some serious hospital issues we've been reporting, with the interim CEO at Haywood Regional, John Young. Although Young's true job is western regional vice president for Carolinas Healthcare Systems, which puts him in charge of the MedWest group that includes Haywood Regional, MedWest Harris and the hospital in Swain County, he has been filling in as CEO at Haywood Regional.

At first, I was full of skepticism that he wouldn't talk candidly about what needed to be done. In my career, I've been around a lot of people who are "in charge" who don't quite lay things out in full detail. But, to my surprise, this wasn't the case.

Young was more than willing to tell me how he viewed his leadership role, and that of the board members who make up MedWest's governing body. And, frankly, when he was done discussing this, and answering the nagging questions I had about whether or not the issues at Harris were going to spill over and defeat the overall strategy here in Haywood, I was set at ease. I came away from the conversation with a feeling that he was genuine and cared deep enough about this mission that he was going to be the leader we need. I also came away hoping the board members would also do what is right and not what is popular or in their best interest. This hospital issue is serious, and the people making the upcoming decisions need to dig deep into their hearts to do what is right. We're all depending on them.

Then, I read the ongoing saga of gaming issues in our county. Whether or not we should or shouldn't have more gaming opportunities for those who choose to partake in the adventure or thrill of chance. Now, don't misunderstand me, I have been known to gamble a bit myself, and you can just about bet that if you find me on the golf course with a bunch of other guys, we're playing for some type of payout.

Whether or not gaming happens in Haywood County is a mute point. It's here, and here to stay. What got my attention and made me think that my lesson for the week is truly about trying to help our area find leaders with "Godly" principles, was when I read about Representative Ray Rapp, and his vow to fight the battle he has been fighting for more than a decade. The battle to eradicate gaming from people's lives has been his mission for years. He's fearless about what the majority think on this issue. That's the kind of person I want working for our country. And, I was proud that our reporter, Stina Sieg, felt it was vital to get his point across to our readers.

So, why do I feel like this was a week of learning for me? Well, because I know it was a message and a challenge to me to help spread the word that it's time we all start caring about each other a little more. The world is harsh enough without the help of our neighbors. I also think it's time to unite as a christian population to put people in leadership positions that have the right morals, and ideas. And, that their "real" life and their "professional" life mirror each other. We have far too many people in leadership roles who have thrown out their "Godly" principles so they can get re-elected or be liked for doing what is politically correct. Even though they know it's wrong, the power and notoriety sways their decision-making ability.

So, I'm trying to start a mini-revolution here. As this election season is upon us, let's listen to what is really being done and said by our local, regional and national leaders. Then, let's put it into the context of whether or not it is in line with what is right - not popular - but right.

For those of you who think that government leaders, or any leader for that matter, and christian principles shouldn't co-mingle with each other - think again. The bible is full of events where leaders were condemned for doing wrong in the eyes of God. And, rightly so, there are many examples of people praised and given favor for doing the "Godly" things they were put into position to do. So, what has changed? We have. We have become soft and afraid that we may not be in the majority.

At this point in my life, I have really started to focus on what is the right thing to do. I fail miserably at times, but I know that if my heart and soul is truly committed to doing the right thing in a "Godly" manner, then I will certainly be at peace with my decisions.

As the sermon ended in church on Sunday, the minister simply said this. "It's simple. We need more Nehemiahs in charge." Couldn't have said it better myself.

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