There’s no doubt that the responsibility of leading the free world is no small task. President-elect Barack Obama has proven through the campaign season that he is of the calm and centered variety, even when his camp was rocked by the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s inflammatory sermons.
Looking forward, what kind of spiritual advisor should President Obama seek counsel from during difficult and challenging times? Elev8 spoke to Dr. Wesley Weeks, Sr., author of Transformed and Start Strong, Finish Stronger, about his thoughts. See full interview below.
Elev8: What qualities should President-elect Obama look for in a spiritual advisor?
Dr. Weeks: Because of the task in front of him, of bridging divides, and because of his uniqueness, he needs a spiritual advisor who has already bridged gaps; someone who understands how to close divides of race, gender, culture, age; someone who has a history of doing this and who continues to do this now. Obama will be facing a lot of challenges and he’ll need a spiritual advisor to guide him. It has to be someone who understands the whole spectrum.
E8: What should Vice President-elect Joe Biden consider in terms of a spiritual advisor?
W: Sen. Joe Biden should have his own individual advisor. [Obama and Biden] both come from unique backgrounds and with different talents and gifts. This lends to having different sets of advisors. The President will send [Biden] out into problem areas and expect him to talk with people and come up with resolutions. Sen. Joe Biden’s spiritual advisor needs to be someone who understands mediation; someone who can go into a highly contested situation, bring competing forces together, and move them toward a resolution. Sen. Joe Biden will need someone who can shed light on various principles and bring focus and calm to the situation.
E8: Do you have any suggestions for a spiritual advisor for President-elect Obama?
W: Yes. I think T.D. Jakes from Dallas would be great. As well as Chicago’s Bishop Arthur Braizier. Braizier is an Ameritus bishop and will have the time to commit to this job.
E8: What, if any, were the lessons Obama should have learned from his experiences with Rev. Jeremiah Wright?
W: I think he has learned it. Rev. Wright’s reactions and sermons were illustrative of an age when people had to confront divisions and challenge the other side, often angrily. This is a different time. Now we need someone to bridge gaps rather than confronting them in the way Rev. Wright did. This time requires a whole different caliber of leader and [President-elect Obama] understands that, which is why he released himself from Wright’s church. Rev. Wright was a valuable tool back in the ’60’s. owever, now we need to reach out and cross divides and lead from a new vantage point.