THE greatest and worsening crisis facing our nation is not our grievous social and deepening economic plight, with frightening prospects ahead if current trends continue. Our greatest crisis is one of leadership.
Problems, difficulties and hard times have always faced mankind on both the personal and national levels, but they have been overcome and can always be overcome by quality leaders who are visionary, wise, humble, caring, and inspirational and who possess faith in God and in the capacity of their people.
Our nation desperately needs such leadership to rise at the local and national levels.
The current debacle being played out in the Jamaica Labour Party leadership struggle is a stark reflection of the depth of this crisis we face. An identical situation happened in the People's National Party a few years ago.
I am not making reference to the fact of a leadership challenge, which is part of the reality of a vibrant democracy or overinflated egos. I am referencing what is being revealed by it that can easily be missed in the rhetoric and low expectations of a disillusioned citizenry in the political process. The revelation is a leadership crisis. We must not miss that.
We should stop and ask ourselves, why is this happening in this way, and why does this repeat itself over and over in our political process? The answer: We have not paid enough attention to the mentoring, discipling... leadership succession. These are all terms which, when practised, improves leadership and leadership structures.
I will use the JLP's recent history and current debacle to make the point, which I believe is critical to improving our future if only the concept would be embraced by both parties. Our political leaders and culture have not seemingly given enough attention to the principle of mentoring and smooth effective succession planning.
Bruce Golding, former prime minister and leader of the JLP, demitted office and wisely, and rightly at the time, encouraged leadership transfer to a more youthful leader, Andrew Holness. But who mentored young Holness before him taking office and supported him to mature into his leadership position? Did my friend Mr Golding do that and/or made himself available to guide him? Or was Holness open and humble enough to ask and submit himself to the support and guidance of Golding or others? Did Mr Shaw and other mature stakeholders of the party come alongside Holness to mentor, encourage, support and guide; or have they only been critical of his possible weaknesses? Was Holness too proud or fearful to accept counsel?
These are real questions which address real issues to be looked at in a redemptive way. Our political culture has not, to my knowledge, in a wholesale way adopted the critical policy of deliberately mentoring youth into the leadership arena and carefully preparing successors fit and proper to replace ageing leaders in their constituencies.
It is obvious that neither of our major political parties is doing this, hence the overt and covert fightings whenever positions are vacant.
Could this be the reason most of our current leaders, in both parties, cannot give up because they have not prepared able successors? I have been saying for years that most of our current leaders have long outdone their most useful and productive time. Too many are at the point of diminishing returns but will not let go.
Their most useful service would now be in effectively mentoring and passing gracefully the baton to some mentees. Without mentoring we continue the cycle of ill-prepared persons coming to leadership by default creating more problems than we are able to solve.
I am so disappointed that the JLP, like the PNP did when they were in Opposition, rather than using their time to reshape, refresh and renew themselves and prepare for future effective governance, is wasting the time in internal conflicts, rather than mentoring maturing leaders and planning and strategising for quality future service.
The current national situation is showing the serious leadership crisis that exists. A huge vacuum is waiting for quality leadership that will be different and exemplary to arise and come to the fore.
There is no hope of real change on the horizon unless fresh, committed leaders, who put nation above self and party, step up and step in. Such leaders would have been mentored and who will mentor and pass the baton before their feeble hands drop it, or worst forget where it is.
Rev Al Miller is the founding pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle. email@example.com