By Dr. Donald Whitchard
I have a wide area of interests and topics that have fascinated me and draw upon my curiosity and overall outlook on this journey called life. I have studied history, business development, management studies, sales techniques, biographies, philosophy, theology, the Bible, styles of sermon delivery and preaching, styles and types of teaching and learning, current events, politics, and one that has kept my interest for many years, and that is the study of leaders and leadership, both in the Christian and secular world. I’ve always found it fascinating as to how men and women, when faced with a variety of challenges and problems, rose above their peers to present the solution or strategy that either saved a business, solved a major policy problem, determined the fate and outcome of battles, planned for victory over an enemy, and kept the peace once the crisis was over. There was also the scenario of the leader being forced or voted out of power after he or she had done their respective job to improve the scene and how they coped with it.
We have just celebrated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Europe to free it from the stranglehold of Nazi tyranny. As I watched the ceremony on the internet and caught President Trump’s speech honoring the 170 survivors of that bloodbath who were on stage with him and the leaders of the nations such as France and Great Britain, whose blood washed ashore with the tide as the first of many a young man, some of whom had not reached their 18th birthday, were met with machine gun fire, grenades, mines, barriers that tore apart landing craft and causing many of these boys to drown, laden with equipment, never making it to shore except as a floating body that had to be identified by the medics who were scrambling to tend to various injuries, while chaplains who came ashore with the soldiers said quick prayers over the ones who had given their best before they had a chance to savor victory.
In England, General of the Army and Chief Architect of the invasion named Operation Overlord, Dwight Eisenhower, had given the troops and armada the signal to go while there was a break in the weather. President Franklin Roosevelt had led the United States in prayer through a radio broadcast for the safety and victory of these men who had, not too long ago, shot marbles with their friends and were doing chores on the family farm These men, mostly draftees and volunteers, had gone through months of training in secrecy, going over the sections of the overall plan that their respective officers put into place.
In London, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had argued for another strategy, listened with Generals Eisenhower, Montgomery of Britain, and the general that the Germans were sure would lead the men into battle, George Patton, all waited with anxiety and concern, wondering if this operation would even succeed. Eisenhower, who had never led a company into battle, yet whose strategic and logistical genius had caught the eye of his superiors in Washington, had written a note to read in case the invasion had to be called off. The note read that if the invasion failed, he and he alone would take the blame for the loss, with the certainty that if it happened, he would be dismissed and regulated to a minor role somewhere in the States, if not fired directly. For Eisenhower, who had been given the responsibility of coordinating the operation as well as keeping the location of the invasion a secret from the Nazis, the weight of the European war was on his shoulders. Perhaps he was joining the President in prayer, albeit silently. After hours of fierce fighting, the landing and objective was a success, with thousands of man and material coming ashore. Less than a year later, Adolf Hitler, the monster of Nazi Germany was dead from a gunshot wound to the head and the Third Reich surrendered to the Allies unconditionally. A day of Victory in Europe was proclaimed on May 8, 1945.
The leaders of the Second World War, from 2nd Lieutenants to Four star generals, had to be focused on the main objective, which was to totally defeat the powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan with as few casualties as possible and to bring their respective units back home safe to live out their days in relative peace and with the knowledge that they had brought down masters of tyranny and horror who were bent on conquering the free world. The world we currently live in has been the result of what was accomplished. The generation that we now live in only knows of events like the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, fallout shelters, varied anti-nuclear treaties, the arms race, Soviet spies in the Allied government, and other events in history books that have not been authored by liberal zealots who are determined to underplay the role of the United States in the annals of civilization. Our uniqueness as a nation has been undermined by academics and pundits who see us as an oppressor nation unworthy of the reputation that the rest of the world who had known tyranny and unjust lives and did their best to escape to the last, best bastion of freedom and live without fear. The aftermath of leadership saw that men like General Eisenhower became leaders of nations while others, like Winston Churchill, were voted out of office by a war-weary population, only to come back to power years later.
Leaders of those enemy nations that had led the world into conflict often found themselves on trial awaiting the executioner’s noose. The defeated nations found new leaders who could bring them out of the ash heap and return them to the flow of civilized society, like Konrad Adenauer of West Germany and Shigeru Yoshida of post-war Japan. New leaders arose to lead countries that had been under the control of colonial powers, such as Nehru of India and Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore, along with those men and warriors who took up the responsibility of bringing continental Africa to self-government, both with good and questionable results.
For good or ill, men rose up to assume power that would shape the destinies of their respective countries by making decisions both popular and unpopular to strengthen trade, build up defenses, and to join alliances to stop further encroachments of perceived tyranny and oppression of those nations under the grip of communism. There are numerous examples to study and follow. Men and women of notoriety arose to meet challenges and face adversities without complaining, looking for excuses, or listening to the policy wonks who wanted to keep the political boat steady and not cause trouble, liking things the way they were so as to justify their jobs. There was a time in recent history where leaders were statesmen and thinkers who put the welfare of the country above political allegiances and platforms. There were leaders in the history of our nation who bore the brunt of hostility and criticism because what they believed or presented did not fit the common narrative and the belief that certain political and moral systems would be a part of the norm and we would just have to deal with it.
Go back to the 1980’s for example. Those of us who grew up and lived through that era were consigned to the fact that the Soviet Union would always be a part of the world system and nothing would change. Along comes Ronald Reagan who upset the boat and dared to call the Soviet Union and its member states an “evil empire” that would soon be on the trash heap of history. There was a cry of outrage by the intellectuals and politicians that were sure that he would lead us into a thermonuclear war for such rhetoric. They called him a buffoon, a second rate know nothing actor, naïve, a dunce, hopelessly optimistic, among other names. Sound familiar? Well, despite all the slander and anger, he achieved his goal. Where is the Soviet Union today? Eastern Europe is free, and now it’s the free world who has to worry about socialistic ideas creeping into the modern mindset, hoping that we don’t look back and see what consequences that train of thought brought upon the world.
Just from what I’ve observed over the years, it seems that when one political party assumes power, our status and influence declines because those in power want to maintain the status quo and not get anybody upset just like the little boy who is bullied out of his lunch money, we as a nation dare not call out another nation for its atrocities because we don’t want to get involved or that there are those in power who wish they could have a shot at obtaining that kind of power to lord over enemies, real and perceived. The powers that be may decide to strengthen their base by imposing laws upon the minority to keep them quiet lest they be brought before a judge and dire consequences appear. This type of leadership is all too common in this day and age where we want to play it safe and keep the “rabble” from speaking their mind. I must be blunt and say that what I’ve just described is the governing philosophy of the previous administration. I saw nothing of valor or moral character that improved the lot of our citizens, and the powers that be wanted it that way. It seemed that any idea of leadership gave way to extreme ideology and enforcement of laws that favored the elite to the detriment of the rest of the nation.
This type of leadership philosophy is what I refer to as “dead fish” thinking. Let me explain. A dead fish will flow downstream with the rest of the school, not causing any trouble or making any headway. It doesn’t question the purpose of why things are happening for good or bad. A dead fish does not think about a more valid way of running things that would be of benefit to all citizens. A dead fish operates with the silent presence of never questioning the legitimacy of a law or deed and is for the most part ignored, until it does what all dead creatures do, and that is stink and infect those around them for the worse. Everything gets contaminated and has to be cleansed or disposed. Now, the fish in question may not be dead physically, but as far as making a positive impact by going against the flow for the sake of the welfare of a people, business, or nation, it is content to let things be until there is nothing productive that can repair or renew the situation in question. They don’t “make waves”, while watching the world they are a part of wither away into oblivion.
“Dead fish” leaders do not challenge the status quo and are happy to champion lifestyles and philosophies that may sound like they’re in step with the social styles of certain groups, but will not be challenged to think about the good of their nation or family instead of centering their lives upon their own perceptions and outlook. “Dead fish” leaders don’t want to make anybody mad or wallow in the supposed fear that nobody will like them if they dare go against the grain. It seems that this philosophy is dominant in the world today.
A “dead fish” individual in charge of a nation may let international events and influences govern their thought processes until they believe that what is good for the running of the world is good enough for the nation in question, whether the population likes it or not. These leaders are adopting an Orwellian model of “groupthink” that says either believe what we tell you, or suffer the consequences. Original and free thought need not apply. The “dead fish” mentality says not to be a bother and to behave, accepting that the direction of a nation will be a certain way and woe to you if you question it.
From my observation as a concerned citizen and follower of Jesus Christ, I truly believe that our current President has taken it upon himself to throw the “dead fish” philosophy out of the stream of accepted political thought and consign it to the waste bin. Our so-called “leaders” in Congress have been so happy with “dead fish” thinking that they regard what this President is doing as something worthy of impeachment or some other means of deterring him from his sworn duty to protect and look after the welfare of this nation. Our nation has been so used to the accepted social behaviors that when a person like President Trump comes along and says that we can do better and can make our nation prosperous again under the guidance of God, it freaks out the mindset of those who make up what is referred to by some as the “deep state”, which has been Satan’s means of trying to bring down the influence of the U.S. as a moral and patriotic people and make this country into a soulless wasteland filled with people who hate God and His ways and desire to put Him out of the minds of the people.
When I was an elementary school student in the fifth grade, I had just turned eleven years old and I was somewhat of a troublemaker, ill-behaved, and woefully ignorant of vital knowledge of subjects and the concept of using my mind to think of the situation in which I found myself. I recall being asked by my teacher if this is what I wanted out of life. Because I had not learned basic mathematical concepts in my previous grade and was failing as a result, my teacher at that time, named Mrs. Diaz, took it upon herself to not just teach me basic subject matter, but how to think about choices and just who it would be that would influence my future realm of thought and action. She determined that I would not end up a statistic of juvenile delinquency and took what I considered to be extreme measures at the time that I didn’t like at first. She kept me in class for the entire school year without recess in order to drill into me the concepts of life and its consequences.
One thing she taught me which has been a building block upon my belief in critical thinking is the use of propaganda in swaying someone or a whole group of people to accept something because “everybody was doing it. Why not you?” This type of propaganda was known as “getting on the bandwagon”. When I see the “dead fish” style of leadership in the world today, I go back to the description of the “bandwagon” mentality and deduce that this kind of philosophy fits comfortably with the lifestyle of modern society. This is a prime reason that “peer pressure” works so well in the lives of our young people. Why, if you don’t support certain issues, you’re a “hater”, a “bigot”, or be called some other name that leads to bullying on social media and then we wonder why so many teenagers are committing suicide. There is a need by all people, young and old, to “fit in”. We have a generation that has been sold a false bill of goods in the name of tolerance and being part of the crowd, not making waves or questioning the legitimacy of a certain philosophy that has found acceptance by an influential group. I’m afraid that this type of “dead fish”, or “bandwagon” way of looking at life will be a formidable weapon of choice by the New World Order when the Antichrist comes to power in the not too distant future. Either conform or die. This, I firmly believe, is the sinister fruit of the lack of thought and the desire to challenge the validity of an action or statement.
While not specifically presented in Scripture, I believe that this type of thought is part of the end time scenario. The lack of challenging a social belief that goes against the truths of the gospel meets with swift and diabolical action on the part of the world’s power system. We have seen many Christians being sued or put in jail for their beliefs that challenge “dead fish” thinking. Technology has advanced to the point that the use of Artificial Intelligence can peer into your social media account, your phone records, your webpage, or other forms of communication and essentially shut you down for thoughts and speech that do not conform to the acceptable thought processes by the media moguls and politicians who are hell-bent on establishing a one world government despite what the people desire or say. The world system wants to turn us into “dead fish”, who go with the flow of anti-God lifestyles and philosophies. I believe that this type of thought will grow worse until the Second Coming of Christ, who will free us once and for all against “bandwagon” thinking, instead being conformed to His likeness, free from sin, and an eternity of freedom from thinking that sway opinions and poison the waters. Brethren, let our thoughts be upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom. He’s coming sooner than you think and that’s a thought we can all live by.
Don was born and raised in the true Cajun Country of Louisiana. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Louisiana College, a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Theology from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia. Don has served as a pastor, interim pastor, high school teacher, and hospital chaplain over the past thirty years. He currently serves as a volunteer chaplain (2008-present) with St. Francis Hospital and also served as the pastor/teacher from 2013-2016 at the Gospel Rescue Mission, both of which are here in Muskogee. He was called to Meadowbrook in February 0f 2017 and began his ministry in March of that year. He has also served as President of the Muskogee Baptist Association’s Pastors Conference, which is a weekly meeting that presents speakers and ministry ideas and concepts to church leaders in the greater Muskogee area.
Don’s top priority is to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is shared with our lost and hurting world and that the people of God are taught sound doctrine and preparation for our Lord’s soon return.