George W. Bush embodies what the Bible tells us is important for those in positions of leadership. The Bible states that the qualifications for those in positions of leadership in the church are primarily character attributes–not functional skills. Shepherding a church is, in some very important ways, a much greater responsibility than governing a nation, but nevertheless it remains that when the Bible gives qualifications for leaders, these qualifications primarily deal with a person’s character (1 Tim. 3:2-7, Tit. 1:6-9, 1 Pet. 5:1-3).
I believe that in his presidency, George W. Bush demonstrated a tremendous amount of character. Even his critics often admit that he is sincere, honest, and a man of integrity. It’s apparent from watching him that he is genuine and does not take himself too seriously. At the same time, he took his responsibility as the President with the utmost seriousness. This is a difficult balance for anyone to maintain. The only way to maintain this balance is to have the humility that comes from trusting God on a daily basis. George Bush made it known that he depended on His Savior for strength. The story of his addiction to alcohol, and the dramatic transformation that occurred when he trusted in Christ is no secret. And it was his relationship with Jesus Christ that gave him the strength to lead our nation through some of the most trying times in our nation’s history.
George W. Bush made difficult decisions in hard times and did what he believed was right–not what was popular. He led us through 9/11 with courage and leadership. He established the department of Homeland Security, and prevented any further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. He passed the Patriot Act, and vastly improved our nations intelligence gathering capabilities. He led us through Katrina. He removed an evil tyrant (who was guilty of genocide) from power. He transformed Iraq from a dictatorship led by fear to a democracy with real hope. He gave the courts conservative judges who take the constitution seriously. He did more for AIDS in Africa than any other president or nation in recent history (though this is not well known). For the vast majority of his presidency, the economy flourished due to his tax reductions. And he even saw through the beginnings of a recovery to the economic woes caused by the mortgage crisis (which I attribute mostly to the irresponsibility of people/banks who took/gave bad loans). Sure, there were bumps and hiccups along the way. Sure, there were mistakes; all presidents make mistakes, especially wartime presidents. But I despise the arrogant cynical attitude that focuses only on the bumps and hiccups rather than the big picture. It’s easy to criticize someone in a position of tremendous responsibility.
George Bush’s presidency was far more successful than not. And there’s a key element to his presidency that deserves to be recognized: his courage. Time and again, Bush did what others would not have done, and for that very thing he was vilified: he defiantly did the right thing. He did the right thing though it was unpopular and difficult. And in the end, this is what will distinguish his presidency. He is a man of courage and integrity.
I will pray for President Obama: that God give him wisdom, courage, and integrity throughout his presidency. And that he too will have the humility that stems from a deep dependence upon the Only True God. But for now, I’d like to say thank you, President Bush, for your service to our country over the past several years. Thank you for leading our nation through some of the most difficult crises that any president in recent history has seen. Thank you for doing the right thing when it wasn’t popular, and for being a man of courage and integrity. I will miss your leadership.