Who is the Greatest President? (2017 Edition)

In anticipation of Presidents’ Day, C-SPAN released its updated list of the greatest presidents. The list was based on a survey completed by historians, professors, and media professionals. It is an interesting list, and like all surveys is subjective based upon the viewpoints of the individual’s ranking bias (conservative/liberal, strong government/weak government, etc.).

The list made me think of my own list that I put together five years ago and the need for it to be updated to reflect the end of the Obama Administration. That list, and the one that will follow, was my own reflection based on my studies of the presidents.

It is fair to list my biases at the start of the listing. I favor the long-term influence of a president over historical popularity. I also look at leadership competencies in the realm of whether the individual was able to motivate the nation to a purpose, was driven, and took control of the issues. Lastly, I want to look at whether the individual was effective in dealing with those issues that faced them.

I also believe it is worth noting that modern presidents are hard to rank. That is because the emotions (both positive and negative) drive a lot of our views on the effectiveness of a particular president. I have argued that it takes a generation to truly get a good perspective on an administration. I am beginning to wonder with the advent of social media that it may take multiple generations to evaluate presidents in this Technology Age.

That being said, here is my list of the greatest presidents … 2017 edition: Continue reading “Who is the Greatest President? (2017 Edition)”

Why I Study the Presidents

When I was a child, my favorite volume of the World Book Encyclopedia was “P.” It was not because I was fascinated with that letter or that I felt I need to study the platypus. I was drawn to that particular volume because it was there that all the presidents, at least through our mid-1960s version, were listed and discussed.

In that volume, I could see what presidents like Buchanan and Chester A. Arthur looked like. (As an aside, I was never tempted to grow muttonchops like Arthur, but he did make them his own.) I learned about the presidency and how it had evolved through the years.

I was fascinated with the presidency, and that fascination has only grown through the years. Many of my friends know that Election Day, to me, is bigger than Super Bowl Sunday. I will sit back and watch the returns and analyze what may or may not happen. As well, my favorite books to read are histories and biographies on the presidents and the time they served. For my money, you cannot go wrong with Ronald White, Jr.’s “A. Lincoln” or David McCullough’s “John Adams.” Continue reading “Why I Study the Presidents”

What Pastors Can Learn from The Presidents

Today is President’s Day. It is the day we honor the 43 men who have served as the head of state and chief executive for our nation.

Throughout our history, we have seen a wide variety of individuals occupy the office. We’ve had military leaders, former athletes, some who struggled with family and personal issues, leaders of high ethics, leaders of limited morality, and an actor to name a few. Each president has added something to the office and to our understanding of  leadership.

As a pastor, I also believe we can learn something about effective and vital leadership through expressions of leadership given by the presidents. A president leads in a vacuum and must serve, through many challenges and obstacles, with the hope of bringing the nation closer to an intended good. As pastors, we too seek to lead our people, though many challenges and obstacles, to what it means to be holy as God calls us to be and to serve the world in response to God’s love. The ways  we see the presidents lead can help us, as leaders in the church, serve God and our communities. Continue reading “What Pastors Can Learn from The Presidents”