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The Biblical Pattern for Leaders

We have many things going on in our time, some good, some bad, some subversive, some encouraging. What is it, that engines the amazing diversity of the world in which we live? Why do things develop as they do, and what determines the way those developments impact upon us?

The Bible foretells that in the prophetic days now breaking upon us, there will arise a certain central theme that you and I would do well to address. It is one of the components that makes the world what it is today, and it will have a telling influence upon what the world will finally become.

That component is leadership! Everyone agrees that leadership is tremendously important. The failure of leadership can produce tragic consequences. Can you imagine the leaders of the world actually taking counsel against God? They will sit down and cogitate about what they are going to do, in their campaign to rid the world of God! Rulers who are against God produce terrible results in the life of a nation. In fact, the third chapter of the Book of Isaiah tells us that one of the signs of Divine judgment is a failure of leadership. God says He will take out of the body politic:

“The captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counselor, and the skillful craftsman, and the eloquent orator. And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. . . As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them” (Isaiah 3:3-4, 12).

So it is that leadership will finally come apart as we move toward the end of the age. Is there something we can do to prevent that, or at least slow the process of decay which eats at the foundations of our society? The Bible speaks about several characteristics of leadership, which are in keeping with the Divine plan.

1. Recognize Divine Ordination

First of all, a leader must recognize his Divine ordination. According to the Bible, even in the political sphere, the authority of a leader is ordained of God. Listen to what the Scripture says concerning this.

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1).

“Do you mean to tell me that the President, the King, the Commissioner, is ordained of God?” Yes. I mean to say that every person who has the opportunity to influence the course of somebody else’s life, had better realize that he does so by the permission of God. That makes him answerable to God for his actions. When you leave God out of it, the consequences are terrible indeed. You never heard a Communist leader say, “I’m here because God put me here.” These people were strong and powerful atheists. They resented God. When you leave God out of the equation, leadership fails. Watch that as it relates to your nation these days. Just as a person is ordained to the ministry, as pastor of a church, even so a leader in the political realm is ordained of God. “The powers that be are ordained of God.” Remind every leader of that, because it is one of the pillars of the conduct of a good society.

2. Be Just

Secondly, a leader must be just. God ordains a principle: “He that rules over men must be just.” That means he must be fair. He must be honest. He must have a degree of righteousness about him. He must have character. He must be able to evenly balance the needs and demands of opposing forces. To be just is a very difficult thing. It takes all the help of God in order to bring it to pass. “He that rules over men must be just.” That’s the second absolutely necessary quality of a leader.

3. Realize That We Live in a Fallen World

Now there’s a third characteristic of a leader; He must realize that we live in a fallen world. It is necessary to recognize the doctrine of original sin, if one is to understand the true nature of life. The Bible says: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

That has very real implications in the life of a culture, and determines how a leader must deal with that culture.

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

“There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12).

Original sin affects how many people? Everybody. How many people have sinned? Everyone. So sin lies at the door of every house and every office and every government agency. Sin characterizes the world. The person who would rule must remember that. People cannot be trusted just on their own recognizance. As one politician well put it, you must chain them down with the shackles of a Constitution. You must absolutely demand that they know what the rules are, and they stay with these rules. They cannot be allowed to freely practice deceit, which, if left unfettered, will bring to pass the ruin of society.

What are the rules by which we are to govern society? The rules are the very law of God. It is the law of God that inhibits sinful activity. Even though some may resent that law, it requires people to chart a course that makes the government dependable.

Remember, we live in a sinful world. To forget that is to totally misunderstand life.

4. Be a Good Steward of Other People’s Money

With whose money does a leader deal? The answer is, other people’s money. The Bible gives an indication of what it means to be a good steward. Every person in this world is required to be responsible, accountable, to somebody. He is required to be a good steward. Again, the Scripture is very clear on this: “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing” (Luke 12:42-43).

Here is presented the picture of a man who has been called away to a far country. While he’s away, he’s got to have someone take care of his property. The person who takes care of the property of another, who’s put in trust of that property, is called a steward. While his master is away, he’s got to be honest and responsible, even when nobody is looking. That good stewardship is what keeps it all going.

5. Must Not Seek Human Glory

We’ve got too many people walking around today’s world saying, “I’m the greatest. I’m the most. I can be the master of not only my destiny, but yours as well.” The consequences of seeking after human glory and personal aggrandizement, are really terrible. That attitude is called pride. The Bible says: “Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Pride can be very ruinous. The Bible gives us many accounts of how this works. One of them that is especially striking is found in the 12th chapter of the Book of Acts.

“And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and died. But the word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:21-24).

Isn’t that interesting? This man believed the people when they said, “He is a god. He speaks like other than a human being.” In his heart of hearts, he said, “Yes. They are correct.” That agreement before the people, taking unto himself glory that he did not deserve, cost him his life.

Watch out for the terrible erosion of pride. Believing the praise that comes to you is a great mistake. Rather, we must be the kind of people that gives the glory to God.

Now that comes just from a common-sense realization, does it not? Who enables us to be thoughtful? Who enables our brains to work? Who is it that makes it possible for us to live? In whom do we live and have our being? What’s the answer to that question? The answer is that God makes it possible.

We cannot possibly have a government that works, unless God is in the midst of it. We must therefore trust Him and not ourselves. We have a nation under God, because it won’t work unless God is running things.

That was the spirit of America back in the beginning. Is that the case now? I hope so. But unless we learn to give the glory to God, we cannot possibly prosper as a nation.

When the Bible says, “The powers that be are ordained of God,” it really means it. That means, of course, as we have already said, that the ruler must be loyal to God. But that also states a principle. The principle is that the only foundation on which a nation can be built is that of God.

Thinking about America for just a moment, there is something that has constantly impressed me. In a very real sense, this nation was built out of people whose initial call, initial concern, was the desire to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. They came because here they could recognize God in a way that was being obscured back in Europe.

It’s that attitude, fidelity to God, that coalesced and made a nation come to pass. It didn’t happen because of some great architectural plan. They called democracy a vast experiment. They called government of the people, by the people, for the people, a new thing on the face of the earth. But it succeeded, because it succeeded under God.

The faith we profess to have must finally show itself in the work of improving a nation. Again may I remind us, that leadership will fail as we move toward the end of the age. The kings of the earth will conspire against God. There will be a shortage of leadership, and people who are able to command situations will not be around. Don’t let that happen now. It may happen in a generation to come, but we must fight to keep it from happening in ours. Even now, we must pray for those in authority over us, and we must believe the Word of God when it announces that God empowers people for leadership, and makes them able to take over these commanding positions. Put these principles down. Think about any political servant that you may know, about people occupying elected office, about those who are commissioned to be responsible for something, and regard them in this light. Remember, the basis of life is moral. When we lose a moral base, we lose it all. Let’s not have that happen in our generation.

From the writings of Dave Breese

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