In the midst of all the excellent discussion happening about the legal angle of the Hobby Lobby case, it’s worth pausing to think about the leadership angle. Watching Hobby Lobby’s Green Family handle this court case teaches us 5 things Christian leaders don’t do:
First, leaders don’t go looking for a fight. Though the media may tell you otherwise, the Greens didn’t seek out the court battle they just finished. The government imposed this mandate on them, and they wouldn’t retreat. There is enough conflict as it is for leaders. Leaders shouldn’t add to it by going looking for a fight. But when conflict comes, leaders must stand on their principles.
Second, leaders don’t back down from their convictions. Though the left wants to spin the Hobby Lobby case as a battle over conception, it was actually a battle over convictions. The Greens believed that funding abortafacient contraceptive methods violated their conscience. And they would not back down when pressured and coerced by the government. Even when facing the prospect of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fines and penalties, they would not waiver because leaders don’t back down from their convictions.
Third, leaders don’t sacrifice their character when under attack. The Greens could have compromised their character in many ways throughout the judicial process. They could have abandoned their employees by dropping health coverage; they could have engaged in muck raking to malign their opponents; they could have responded to the media with vitriol. But instead, the character they forged through years of faithful Christian living didn’t flounder when under assault because leaders don’t sacrifice their character to win their conflict.
Fourth, leaders don’t gloat when they win. It would’ve been easy (and perhaps justifiable) for the Greens to gloat after they won the case. After all, many of those on their side did exactly that. But they did the exact opposite. They didn’t send an over-the-top press release. They weren’t standing on the steps of the Supreme Court building reveling in their victory at a press conference. Why? Because there is a difference between humble celebration and prideful exaltation. Leaders don’t gloat when they win.
Fifth, leaders don’t quit trusting God. With constant pressure from the government and constant coverage from the media, I’m sure there were times it was hard for the Greens to trust God in the mist of the judicial process. There were likely many dark nights of the soul as they waited for the conclusion of the process. Yet, the anxiety of the situation did not cause the Greens to turn away from God but to turn to him. When times get challenging, leaders don’t quit trusting God.
I had the pleasure of meeting Steve and Jackie Green in June 2014 at the SBC Annual Meeting as the ERLC presented them an award for their fight for religious liberty. In the brief minutes I was with them, it confirmed to me that they are the real deal when it comes to Christian leadership and character. That’s why, in the midst of all the legal discussions of the case, it is important to reflect on the leadership implications of it.