No, Atlantic, Servant Leadership Doesn’t Mean Abandoning Your Moral Compass for Donald Trump

On Tuesday, The Atlantic dropped a bombshell, revealing that Mike Pence, when he was Donald Trump's running mate, considered replacing Trump at the top of the ticket after the Access Hollywood scandal. This important scoop was buried in an article about Pence's theology, however — an article that suggested Pence used the biblical principle of servant leadership to justify selling his soul to serve an ungodly man.

The Atlantic's McKay Coppins recorded that when Pence and his wife Karen heard about Trump's infamous "grab 'em by the p**sy comments," they were disgusted and furious, and Pence even offered to replace Trump as the presidential candidate. After the storm died down, Pence remained on the ticket, somehow satisfying his conscience.

Trump reportedly wooed Pence by attempting to show himself as a godly man of faith, but Coppins suggested this was a fraud. Trump has reportedly mocked Pence's faith, only using it politically to boost his credibility among evangelicals. (After all, this twice-divorced candidate said he never apologized to God, called Jesus an egomaniac, and made bravado his trademark.)

How could Pence serve such a man? Coppins noted that the vice president has been "accused of having sold his soul." The writer suggested Pence justified doing so using the principle of servant leadership.

Marc Short, a longtime adviser to Pence and a fellow Christian, told me that the vice president believes strongly in a scriptural concept evangelicals call "servant leadership.” The idea is rooted in the Gospels, where Jesus models humility by washing his disciples’ feet and teaches, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

But whose slave, and for what reasons? Coppins suggested an answer (Emphasis added):

When Pence was in Congress, he instructed his aides to have a “servant’s attitude” when dealing with constituents. Later, as the chairman of the House Republican Conference, he saw his job as being a servant to his fellow GOP lawmakers. And when he accepted the vice-presidential nomination, he believed he was committing to humbly submit to the will of Donald Trump. “Servant leadership is biblical,” Short told me. “That’s at the heart of it for Mike, and it comes across in his relationship with the president.”

Another close friend of Pence’s explained it to me this way: “His faith teaches that you’re under authority at all times. Christ is under God’s authority, man is under Christ’s authority, children are under the parents’ authority, employees are under the employer’s authority.”

“Mike,” he added, “always knows who’s in charge.”

In this way, Coppins suggested that the evangelical concept justifies immoral behavior when done in the service of someone in authority. But that idea isn't servant leadership, it's slavery to human authority.