Practice What You Preach

A leader never asks of others what he or she is unwilling to do. Leaders don't stand behind people and kick them in the rear to force behavior, but get in front of people and model the behavior that is desired.

Both the president and vice president have had some advice for Americans on being generous. Remember these famous words of then presidential candidate Barack Obama:

(BEGIN CLIP: 10/13/2008)

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARACK OBAMA: I just want you to be clear. It's not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.


And while we never know if a Joe Biden statement is a gaffe, a laugh or serious statement, he exhorted us to be patriotic:

(BEGIN CLIP: 9/18/2008)

VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOE BIDEN: We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle class people.

INTERVIEWER: Anybody making over $250,000…

BIDEN: Is going to make more. You got it, it's time to be patriotic, Kate. Time to jump in, time to be part of the deal. Time to help get America out of the rut, and the way to do that is they're still going to pay less taxes than they paid under Reagan.


I guess Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wasn't feeling too patriotic, since he didn't pay all his taxes until being named a Cabinet secretary forced it.

Well, since the president and vice president have told us to be generous, let's see if they are asking us to do what they are doing.

In their tax returns from last year, President Obama made over $4.1 million dollars and gave 5.8 percent to charity. Joe Biden made over $319,000 and gave a paltry $995 or 0.3 percent away to charity.

As much as I appreciate being told that I ought to be more generous so I show my patriotism and compassion, I question the authority of those who don't give at least the 10 percent — or tithe — that Christians are supposed to give. My wife and I have practiced that from the first month of our marriage and, even when we could barely afford the rent on an apartment for which we paid $40 a month, we always found that 90 percent with God's blessings was always more than 100 percent without it.
I never thought that one dime of each dollar was too much that the Lord would ask of me as a minimum. We've many times given more, but never less.

If I reach into my pocket and give something that is mine, that is charity; if I reach into your pocket and use it as if it's mine, that's theft.

But what about when the government takes what's mine, keeps a large part of it and then gives some of it away to others and then the government takes credit for its generosity with my money?

Whether the government is giving the money to a bank, insurance company, car maker or to someone in my neighborhood who bought more house than he could afford to pay for, it's still frustrating. Those who created our government didn't create it to be a charitable organization.

And if the government takes more money from the people who want to be generous and give above Joe Biden's 0.3 percent, then we've not just covered our neighbor's mortgage and a car-maker's blunders, but we've made Joe Biden's charitable contributions for him too.

Unlike the treasury secretary, I pay my taxes, and unlike Joe Biden, I pay my tithes. I think I'm patriotic enough and seemingly more generous than those who want to tell me how to be compassionate.

If you want to lead, practice in your own life what you're asking of others. In the words of the late great pastor, Dr. E.V. Hill: If you think you're a leader, but no one is following, you aren't a leader, you're just taking a walk.

That's my view, I welcome yours. E-mail your comments to:

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was a 2016 Republican candidate for president of the United States.