Guest Post Written By Sid Jansma, Jr.
Early on in my oil and gas exploration career, my father and I invested every dime we had and then some into exploratory wells. Oil exploration is neither cheap nor assured so we had to dig deep into our pockets before digging deep into the possibly unyielding ground.
We were partnering with Gus, an elderly Swedish immigrant, who had vastly more capital than my father and I combined. In reality, Gus graciously partnered with us and would become a mentor to me. It wasn’t just kindness on Gus’s part—he vetted me thoroughly and saw in me a reflection of his immigrant’s grit.
There was, given such huge sums of money and uncertainty, some consternation on my part. My worries were exacerbated by a recent betrayal—a prominent Christian friend had, without regard or regret, broken an important promise. This friend is, like me, a Christian. So, I thought that he was deeply committed to higher, kingdom values of honesty and trust and fidelity. But I was wrong.
Gus, on the other hand, was an atheist and a good man—wise and faithful and honest. He told the unvarnished truth, kept his promises, paid his debts, and remained my faithful friend and business partner for the rest of his life.
Partnering with Gus literally paid off when we struck oil! It was the first of many oil discoveries in my life.
Partnering with Gus also paid off in much richer ways. I learned an enormous amount from Gus—about savvy business, of course, but also about faithful friendship and caring for the environment.
When I told my father about my betrayal by my Christian “friend,” he replied: “I’d rather work with a good atheist than a bad Christian.”
I think, changing things around just a bit, my father’s lesson can and should be applied to this year’s presidential election. Here’s how.
I’m a lifelong Republican. But I’ve reluctantly come to believe that as a Christian I cannot vote Republican in the coming election. And you shouldn’t either.
For President, I’d rather have a good Democrat than a bad Republican.
I’d rather have a political opponent (even with far different ideas from my own) who is honest, smart, creative, concerned for others, faithful and relational than a political ally who is manipulative, unprincipled, self-serving, divisive and dishonest; I don’t want a leader who lacks empathy or compassion, and is easily duped by others.
For leaders (and business partners), I want what the Bible wants—good people.
In 1 Timothy 3.2 we read that anyone who aspires to be a church leader should be:
“….temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable ….”
And, given the choice, shouldn’t we emphasize these traits in the public square?
The Bible routinely associates good leadership anywhere with character, including such traits as justice, patience, compassion, humility, integrity, honesty, wisdom, courage, and discipline.
Leaders, we read in the Bible, empathetically and eagerly seek the flourishing of human beings within a context of peace and justice.
On every Biblical count of leadership, all of the above, Trump fails.
On the other hand, 2 Timothy 3.2 explicitly denounces leaders who are:
“lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control…”
2 Timothy is clear: “Have nothing to do with such people.”
I won’t cite specific examples. For those who have eyes to see, and Christians above all should, Trump’s character defects are obvious. Enough said.
According to the Bible, Trump is a person we should have nothing to do with.
According to the Bible, Trump shouldn’t be allowed to become an elder or a deacon.
Trump should not even be allowed to become a Sunday School teacher.
And I would never have Trump as a business partner. I know, given the countless ways he’s cheated his partners, that Trump would (a) use his “Christianity” to his own advantage and (b) leave me holding the bag. I can hear Trump saying, “So sue me. I have a huge team of expensive lawyers. They’ll drag this out for years. It will cost you more to sue me than you owe the bank.”
I’d never do business with Trump because I learned my father’s lesson: “I’d rather work with a good atheist than a bad Christian.”
So, on Biblical grounds for leaders, I, though a lifelong Republican, cannot support the Republican candidate for President. And on Biblical grounds for leaders, you shouldn’t either. Not for elder, not for deacon, not for Sunday school teacher. Definitely not for President.
If Trump lacks the wisdom, integrity, righteousness and compassion to qualify for Sunday school teacher, he lacks the qualifications for national leader.
Although I’ve only recently come out in support of Biden, I am not a Johnny-come-lately to my disdain for Trump. In 2016, I drove three hours to the Republican Debate in Detroit. I wanted to personally take my measure of each Republican candidate. In my business, on which millions of dollars can hang in the balance, I must decide who is worth working with and who is not. Trump, I decided in 2016, was not. Trump, I judged, was a bombastic fake. I knew then and there that I could never support Trump for President.
And while I don’t support Biden because he’s a saint, he brings a basic trustworthiness and integrity and compassion to the table. Biden is good enough to be a Sunday school teacher. And I can, we can, work with a person of trust, integrity and compassion.
I announced my support of Biden when I publicly announced that I was supporting and working on a new project, Republicans and Independents for Biden. As you might imagine, responses from friends and even some family members have been at best, tepid, and at worst, torrid.
To many Republican Christians, Trump is like the unruly and untamed Samson, called by God to lead us into righteousness. And righteousness, for Republican Christians is almost exclusively restricted to being pro-life (against abortion). So, I’ve repeatedly heard, “How can you support a killer? Trump is for life.”
Although I am unequivocally pro-life, I reply that separating children from their mothers and fathers at the border is also not pro-life, supporting the Saudi war in Yemen is not pro-life, and dividing America into warring factions is not pro-life. Sadly, my replies seem to fall on deaf ears.
I have seen nothing to disabuse my initial impression. Moreover, like many immoral and lawless and divisive people, Trump has gathered around him his own posse of immoral and lawless and divisive people. Trump isn’t just a bombastic fake, Trump is a harmful fake.
I’d rather support a good Democrat than a bad Republican.