Imagery of Regent people and campus

Congressman Randy Forbes Speaks at ELS

By Amanda Morad | December 9, 2013

Congressman Randy Forbes
Photo by Alex Perry

At Regent University's Executive Leadership Series luncheon Monday, Dec. 9, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA 4th District) addressed a crowd of nearly 375, discussing leadership in America.

"If we can climb out of the emotional fray, most of us can generally agree the American government needs leadership," he said. "But what kind of leadership does America need?"

Forbes outlined the type of leader that many business schools teach, a type based on ability to motivate, productivity, and how one dresses and speaks. But that's not real leadership, the Congressman explained. That's management.

"When people say we need better leadership in America or we need more leaders in America, they don't mean we need more managers," Forbes said. "The kind of leadership we need asks and answers two questions: Why do I want to lead? To where do I want to lead?"

Forbes told the story of watching two young boys playing in the sand at the beach. They were building sandcastles and fighting over shovels and buckets and how each tower was to be built. But in the midst of their fighting, a large wave came up and washed away everything they had worked toward and fought over.

"In America, we spend so much time arguing over sandcastles and are in danger of missing the waves that would come up and wash away everything we hold dear," he said. Forbes then outlined four "sandcastles" that Americans should be mindful of in the discussion of government leadership.

The first was perhaps the most obvious: politics. "Everything depends upon getting the politics right," he explained. "The Declaration of Independence signers realized they had to get the politics right in order for what they were building to survive. They believed it was crucial in their fight for freedom."

He quoted John Adams, explaining that Adams had to study politics and war so that future generations could study science, math, literature and art. To Adams, America's political framework was foundational to all other pursuits.

"We're now too caught up on the mechanics of politics and not the policy," Forbes said.

The second sandcastle is national security. "Jefferson said this country is the great hope of the world, but we are cutting our defense and making this hope vulnerable," Forbes explained, citing billions of dollars in defense cuts and the subsequent shortcomings those cuts have caused. "We've got to turn it around."

The third castle is healthcare. "Comprehensive national healthcare means betting the farm that it's right," Forbes said. He noted that the nation's founders left such a multi-faceted issue to the states in order to leave room for trial and error. Now, the government is spending record-breaking ad dollars to convince the nation its plan is going to work for them, and that's money better spent elsewhere, Forbes explained. "We need to focus on prevention instead of just delaying symptoms, curing diseases instead of just treating them," he said.

The last castle is religious liberty. "For as long as man has walked the earth, he's sought to find meaning and purpose," Forbes noted. "The majority have found that purpose through faith. If you take away that core of faith, they will replace their search for meaning with something far worse."

Acknowledging that people of faith, particularly of Christianity, are quickly becoming a minority in America, Forbes reminded the audience that "Religious liberty is not the freedom to think religious thoughts; it's the freedom to live and speak what you believe and to spend your money accordingly," he said. "The price tag of citizenship in the world's great hope should not be losing religious freedom."

And why does all this matter for American leadership? "We have no backstop for freedom in America," Forbes said. "We are it."

He left the audience with a charge of responsibility: "The purpose of this series is for you to decide what kind of leader you will be in your life today. The kind of leaders you are will determine the kind of leaders America will get. And the kind of leaders America gets will determine the destiny of the greatest nation in the world."

Held each month, ELS brings together businessmen and women in Hampton Roads to hear from business and leadership experts. Learn more about ELS and register for the next luncheon on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014.


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