It would be hard to find someone with a more challenging job today than Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. From Syria to Hong Kong, the world faces daily crises that demand his attention.
The former Kansas congressman leans on his faith to keep him on track. Pompeo recently spoke at the American Association of Christian Counselors’ World Conference in Nashville. In a speech titled “Being a Christian Leader,” Pompeo told the counselors that just like them, he draws on the wisdom of God to help him “be a force for good in the life of human beings.”
“Now I know that even having just said that, I know some people in the media will break out the pitchforks when they hear that I ask God for direction in my work,” he said. “But you should know, as much as I’d like to claim originality, it is not a new idea. I love this quote from President Lincoln. He said, quote: ‘I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.’”
He was right about the criticism. The American Humanist Association released a statement saying that it is “deeply troubled” by Pompeo’s “advancement of Christian leadership” and the State Department’s “promotion” of the speech on its home page.
Although Pompeo said he learned how to be a leader while serving at the U.S. Military Academy, he stressed that his focus is not just being a leader but also being a Christian leader — something he learned through his “experience with God and my own personal faith in Christ.”
He keeps a Bible open on his desk and tries to spend time reading scripture every morning.
“Scripture calls us to be ‘transformed by the renewing of [our] minds,’” he said. “I need my mind renewed with truth each day. And part of that truth is, as my son reminds me, is to be humble. Proverbs says, ‘With the humble is wisdom.’”
Pompeo also spoke about the importance of forgiveness, citing the story of the prodigal son and how he applies the parable in his own work.
“The people who work for me know this too: I have high standards for excellence,” he said. “I hold them accountable and give them authority. I hold myself to that high set of standards, because there is so much riding on what we do to keep the American people safe that we can’t accept anything less. But when there is a failure, when the people close to me misfire, I don’t strip away their responsibilities. I don’t cut them out of meetings. I keep them in the fold. I keep giving them important work. That’s what Christ does for us; we have an obligation to do the same.”