Biblical Standards for Political Leadership
Leaders, like everyone else, have character flaws, yet great leadership must include integrity, self-awareness, courage, respect, empathy, and gratitude. Over the last century, presidents in our country have displayed a panorama of leadership styles and character flaws despite party affiliation.
In the United States, we know that moral virtue and good character are vital attributes of great leadership. Though we are not talking about perfection, pursuing these is critical to the guidance of a nation. Stark deficiencies of moral virtue and good character in national leaders affect their decisions and credibility here and abroad.
In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill to insert the phrase “under God” into the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. This action met with much protest at the time, yet the reality is that every nation on earth is under the divine authority of God and accountable to Him. Psalm 24:1-2 says, “The earth [is] the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods.” It is with this understanding that great leadership unfolds.
In Psalm 2:1-6 God laughs at the futile attempts of “heads of state” to keep Him out of their affairs. There are many ways in which The Lord deals with kings and national leaders (outside of Israel’s covenant) historically and even today. One such instance is how King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was humbled by behaving like a beast of the field for seven years. This occurred that he might “…know that the Most-High (God) rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whoever He will” (Daniel 4:25).
Each party within our “two party system” in our Republic developed platforms that dominate the direction of the majority vote. Little consideration is given to the character and moral virtue of people running for public office. For a democratic republic to thrive, it needs leaders of virtuous character. Samuel Adams, an American statesman and founding father of this country, stated: “A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.” It is foolish to think that we can keep God out of politics, economics, or, for that matter, any other field. The leadership of nations must be subject to established divine parameters. Leaders must be responsible to their people and accountable before God for their actions.
What does this mean for the citizens of our country as voters? We must vote for men and women who acknowledge the responsibility of the office to be held and who are accountable to God for their actions. Due to the choices involved in prior presidential elections, my endorsement for either major party candidate was withheld. Click here to read more about it.
In Scripture, God’s criteria for leaders are highlighted: able men who fear God, are trustworthy, and detest bribery (Exodus 18:21). These principles also relate to the integrity of political leadership. While some suggest that God chose leaders irrespective of their spiritual standing, the values of great leaders often coincide with godly attributes.
God even chose to anoint King Cyrus (Isa. 45:1-7) to reveal to the King that He was the God of Israel and to reveal Himself as God to the King. God wanted King Cyrus to know: “I am the LORD, and there is no one else; There is no God except Me. I will embrace you, though you have not known Me [v.5].” The Lord did this to orchestrate the freedom of the Jewish people from Babylonian Captivity and to show all people His Lordship and that there is no one else [v.6]. King Cyrus’ heart was pliable in the hands of the Lord God.
Scriptural passages regarding character requirements for civic leadership imply that (even without a saving knowledge of God) they must respect God and His innate moral laws. Proverbs 8:15-16, “By Me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by Me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.”
Romans 13:1-7 references God appointing Roman magistrates, even though not saved, as instruments of His judgment to punish wrongdoers. This aligns with the innate moral law across cultures, consistent with the last six of the Ten Commandments concerning societal governance.
Christian citizens should vote for people who value moral virtue and good character in adherence to divine principles and standards in society. God’s love and wisdom should not be viewed as confining; rather, true freedom is found within the same. Men and women who promote confusion, chaos, and controversy and try to obfuscate their ambition by dividing us via innuendos or causing strife in our nation should not be considered for public office. Within each party, we need to search for those who are God-fearing, of moral character and driven to unite this nation and vote them into office.
We, the people of this great nation, must consider leaders for public office not by the rhetoric of their words but rather by the content of their character. Andrew Carnegie stated, “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” Any political candidate must be conscious of the influence of God in their lives and their fellow man as they serve to benefit all.
As Joe Biden and Donald Trump lead the presidential polls, it reflects a deeper issue: America may be under divine judgment. When Israel was granted King Saul, God gave them their choice and allowed them to face the repercussions (1 Samuel 8).
Let us identify and vote for righteous individuals emerging in our political landscape: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).
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