The waiting and the speculation is finally over, and the new leader has been revealed. And so it becomes our responsibility to pray for them.
But to whom am I referring, in this momentous 10 days of unveiling new leaders? Not to Barack Obama, though we should undoubtedly pray for him and his next four years as President of the USA. Not to Xi Jinping, though we should pray for him as leader of China’s Communist Party for the next 10 years. Nor even am I referring to Justin Welby, though he could be Archbishop of Canterbury for the next 14 years, and he definitely needs the prayers of all the church. Pray for all of them, but as someone concerned with praying for London please also pray for Alderman Roger Gifford, newly sworn in as Lord Mayor of London for the next 12 months.
The Lord Mayor of London has two basic responsibilities.
- He is chief executive of the Corporation of London, and so is the head of the council of the City of London, responsible for provision of normal local council services like schools, refuse collection, park maintenance, etc.
- But more importantly, he also has an international role of promoting the Square Mile as the financial capital of the world, and the premier place for banks, insurance companies and multinational companies to do business.
Some facts about the new Lord Mayor. He is Scottish, he is married to a doctor, and they have six children together. He is a fan of choir and orchestral music. He has been involved in banking and international finance since 1978, and he is a liveryman of both the Worshipful Company of Musicians and the Worshipful Company of International Bankers.
At this time of multiple crises within the banking sector, Roger Gifford is the first Lord Mayor with a background in banking since the credit crunch of 2008. He described himself in a recent interview as “A joyfully boring banker who has stepped up to become London’s other Mayor.” He conceded that “dreadful” and “ghastly” mistakes had been made, but stressed the importance of banking to wider society.
“I’m going to try and point out all the good things about banking. Ninety-nine percent of bankers do a useful, socially important job. They supply the cash for infrastructure. You can’t build a hospital or a road without banking. There have been huge changes in the last two years to remuneration, board structures, liquidity.”
And of course, as Lord Mayor he has to think wider than simply the banking industry. “The city per se is about much more than just banking, it is also maritime, law, accounting.”
So two suggested prayer points as you pray for Roger Gifford over the next 12 months:
- Change: There needs to be change within the banking sector. The Financial Services Authority is being replaced by a new Financial Conduct Authority, in part to ensure scandals like the LIBOR rate fixing scandal don’t happen again. Pray for wisdom for those regulating the banks, and the role the Lord Mayor has in supporting these new institutions in the City.
- Responsibility: As the Lord Mayor travels the world to win business for London, pray that all companies based here exercise responsibility with their wealth and influence, and that the City would better hold to account any who do act irresponsibly. Pray the City becomes a great place to do business, not because it can hide away secrets that companies don’t want revealed to the world, but because it’s a place of honesty and truth.
Mark Williamson also blogs regularly at One Rock International, a training organisation resourcing missionary leaders across the globe. He’s passionate about good films, good food, getting into deep conversations, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna.