Allen West: Stewardship and Shutdown

In this next phase of my life I have lots more time to get out across America to meet and speak with great people. This past weekend was the beginning of that trek, and it started in Atlanta where I addressed Dr. Michael Youssef’s 25th anniversary luncheon for his “Leading The Way” ministry.

As always, it is special to be home. I even had the chance to drop by my old stomping grounds, Henry Grady HS, and to visit with the JROTC Cadet Battalion staff. What a treasure it was to gaze into the eyes of those who continue a legacy I was able to be part of from 1976 to 1979. (The Allen West Foundation has established a scholarship fund for the Cadet Corps.)

After speaking in Atlanta, and watching a classic SEC football game between Georgia and LSU, I flew to Lafayette, Louisiana, on Sunday. Being a good southern fella, I arranged to attend church services Sunday morning at the First Baptist Church of Lafayette. Before the service, I met with Pastor Steve, who told me the sermon would not be terribly exciting because it would be about stewardship. Well, he was wrong. The service was lovely, the hymns were uplifting, and I found Pastor Steve’s terrific sermon worth sharing here.

The topic was “Five Principles of Christian Stewardship,” and the accompanying biblical reference came from the Book of Acts 4:32-5:11. He succinctly articulated these principles: unity, generosity, necessity, personal integrity, and accountability.

I recall thinking this was a message every single person on Capitol Hill, including the occupant of the White House, should hear.

We elect individuals to represent us at every level of government. We also trust these individuals to be solid stewards of the vital resource we entrust to them -- our taxpayer dollars. As I sit here, we are involved in a partial government shutdown. The last time this occurred I was a young Army major assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey Korea. I remember holding meetings to assure our younger soldiers that they would be paid.

Stewardship requires unity -- not among the members of Congress, but between the represented and those representing. Thomas Jefferson referred to this as the “consent of the governed.” I long for a government which makes decisions with tax dollars understanding they belong to the governed, and not to them.

I am willing to be generous with my giving and meeting my tax obligations, as all Americans are, but we need to know that our resources support items of necessity and not of ideological wanting.

Furthermore, Americans would appreciate personal integrity from members of Congress and the president. The president of the United States should never be receiving a “4 Pinocchios” rating in the Washington Post. We all know that telling falsehoods is a regular occurrence, especially in Washington.

We need more accountability, and not to special interests or self-interest, but to God and the American interest. Pastor Steve did not realize it, but he delivered a most timely sermon that all Americans should hear. I believe that oft times God places us right where we need to be, and I certainly needed to be right there at First Baptist Church of Lafayette.

When I took civics as a youth -- and I remember the ABC Schoolhouse Rock! segments that taught us how a bill became a law -- I learned that a law applied to everyone. The House and Senate debate and pass bills; when a bill has passed both Houses of Congress, it is sent to the president for signature to be a law. In a constitutional republic, a law is applicable to all citizens … unless the president is Barack Obama.