Does political leadership come from God?

[By Gregory Kaputula]

Due to low calibre political leadership, inadequate political leadership, corruption, greed, selfishness, carelessness, inequality, racism, tribalism, injustice, high poverty levels, oppression of one another, tribal wars, international wars, and mass killings of fellow human beings etc., some sections of society argue and rightly so that political leadership does not come from God.

They argue that political leadership is not given by God. These arguments emanate from the fact that the world has seen heartless political leaders before. There have been cruel political leaders at all times and ages. In fact, the ruthlessness of some political leaders surpasses human comprehension. For example, how can one explain God allowing political leaders such as Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, Idi Amin, Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Augusto Pinochet, Vladimir Lenin, Queen Mary (Aka Blood Mary), Timur, Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun and many other brutal political leaders to preside over the affairs of his people?

More and further questions like the following are thus asked: why would God appoint an evil political leader who would be making decisions that are against the law of God? If God does not desire evil, then why does He choose evil political leaders? And if the political authorities that exist have been established by God, why is it that Christian political candidates rarely win elections?

The above questions and arguments, just like many others, remain valid and cogent to a greater extent. How does God allow His people to be governed by corrupt leaders, selfish leaders, criminals, liars, crooks, con-men, dealers, chancers, reactionaries and opportunists, leaders who create and manufacture poverty or leaders who steal in the morning, steal in the afternoon, and steal in the evening?

As we contemplate these leadership questions, we must not forget that God authored the first leadership book called the Bible and we all know that God is the first leader and the Creator. The Biblical meaning of leadership is very clear; it is the act of influencing/serving others out of Christ’s interests in their lives so they accomplish God’s purposes for and through them.

Leadership is all about being passionate about what you do, and having confidence in yourself and your followers whom you have to motivate and inspire. Great leaders make the hard choice, and self-sacrifice in order to enhance the lives of others around them. Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.

Leaders are not to oppress and overpower others with their authority. Instead, leaders serve others, which Jesus demonstrated when he made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. It is true that God does acknowledge the authority of civic authorities in the political sphere. And because we live in a dangerous world, we need governments to control the kinds of behaviours that sinful people will exhibit. For instance, police in many countries are, in principle, charged with protecting good people from those who would do evil to them. Of course, there are corrupt countries where the police fall very far short of fulfilling this mandate.

According to Paul the Apostle, everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. Romans 13:1 clearly states that; “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.’’ Therefore, as Christians, we ought to obey the governing authorities.
Further, 1 Peter 2:13-14 says; “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.”

God supports, generally, the right of a government to govern and to protect people from harm. God also holds those leaders who govern accountable to honour Him with the authority He gives them. The fact that some political leaders do terrible things does not make God terrible. It means those political leaders are terrible and not God. Therefore, God telling us to obey legitimate governing authority does not mean that God controls who gets elected into political office. We have free will.

God does not interfere in our freedom of will except rarely, and for a specific reason. He interfered in the ‘politics’ of Egypt during the time of Moses, but that is because it involved something related to His plan to send His Son Jesus Christ to save us. He also interfered in ‘politics’ to fulfil a prophecy when he brought Babylon against Judah and the Jews went into captivity.

Whatever we think about any political leader, we should not blame God (or give Him credit) for getting that politician elected. We should either blame (or give credit to) those who chose to vote the way they did, not God. God does not interfere in the minds of individuals, forcing them to vote for certain candidates that He supports. And since we live in a democracy, we should be praying that God helps people make wise choices when voting.

Christianity is clear about the kind of leaders God wants for his people. Any leader who does not govern within the guidelines of the Ten Commandments is not from God. Any leader who does not respect the Ten Commandments is not from God. The Ten Commandments should therefore form the legal, moral and spiritual foundation of a Christian nation’s life. To build strong communities and inspire confidence in governments, political leaders should be governing their people based on the biblical Ten Commandments.

To remind everyone, the following are the Ten Commandments of God:

• Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
• Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
• Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
• Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
• Honour thy father and thy mother.
• Thou shalt not kill.
• Thou shalt not commit adultery.
• Thou shalt not steal.
• Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
• Thou shalt not covet.

Apart from the Ten Commandments of God, there are also the Ten Commandments of Leadership. The Ten Commandments of God plus the Ten Commandments of Leadership will help political leaders realise a vision of sustainable, vibrant communities for generations to come. The following are the Ten Commandments of Leadership:
• Thou shalt create a vision for the future.
• Thou shalt develop a strategic plan.
• Thou shalt build a sustainable economy for the next generation.
• Thou shalt seek public/private partnerships.
• Thou shalt invest in education and training.
• Thou shalt promote respect.
• Thou shalt demonstrate a high standard of ethical behaviour.
• Thou shalt value history, art and culture.
• Thou shalt prepare for a global environment.
• Thou shalt develop future leaders.

The author is a development activist, law student and a social commentator. Send comment to: gregory.kaputula@gmail.com

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