“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”  Proverbs 29:2

In this or any country, leadership is crucial. There is a proverb — not a biblical proverb, but a wonderful one — that asks, “If the gold rusts, what shall the iron do?” That is, if our leadership is not what it ought to be, what will the people be like?

In this first of a two-part article, we’re going to discuss the character God requires of leaders.

As a general rule, we get the kind of leadership we deserve. God is greatly interested in a nation’s political life. Some think He ought to stay out of government, but the truth is, government must always look to Almighty God.

In November, Americans are going to vote. Voting is a privilege, but for the Christian, it’s more than that — it’s a duty. If you willingly do not vote, you disobey God, for Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar [the government] the things that are Caesar’s and unto God, the things that are God’s.” In America, “Caesar” is the “government of, by, and for the people.” To fail to participate is to sin against Almighty God. It’s unthinkable that God would have ordained government, then told His people to stay out of it. 

A Christian Voter’s Guide

One of the most frightening things I’ve heard people say is, “What difference does character make as long as a person can lead? Who cares about the character of an airplane pilot as long as he can fly the plane?” Friend, there’s a fatal flaw in that. When you say character doesn’t count, you’re really saying God doesn’t count. Character is rooted in God’s principles. You’re saying, “God, we can get along quite well without Your blessing. We’re going to do it ourselves.” If only skill counts, what would you think of a surgeon who failed to scrub before performing surgery? He may be skilled, but he will contaminate whatever he touches. So will the leader without character.

Straight from God’s Word, here are the principles God says a leader should have. It‘s important to get these fixed in your heart and mind.

1. Godly and righteous
“Kings of the earth and all people, princes and all judges of the earth, both young men and maidens, old men and children, let them praise the name of the Lord. For His name alone is excellent, His glory is above the earth and heaven.” Psalm 148:11-12

Every earthly ruler should be one who worships God. “It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness, for the throne is established by righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:12) What is a throne established by? Righteousness. An ungodly, immoral man is unfit for leadership. 

2. Wise (and true wisdom comes from godliness)
“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” Proverbs 8:12-16

Which is more important…for a leader to be smart or be wise? How much better one who is wise rather than just smart!  When God offered to give Solomon anything he wanted, Solomon was wise enough to ask for wisdom. Wisdom is the gift of God. I pray God will give America wise leaders. But a leader cannot have wisdom from God unless he’s under God in service and worship.

3. Honest
Excellent speech becometh not a fool, much less do lying lips a prince.Proverbs 17:7

Mercy and truth preserve the king.Proverbs 20:28

Liars and leaders are not the same. If a person doesn’t tell the truth, he has a basic character flaw and is absolutely unfit for leadership. One is not a liar because he tells lies; he tells lies because he’s a liar. And if a liar, he’s not a godly leader and should not be elected.

He cannot be a person who listens to lies, for the Bible says, “If a ruler harken to lies, all his servants are wicked” (Proverbs 29:12). Men and women with fortitude and honesty, guided by what is right, make history. 

4. Discriminating in the choice of helpers
“Take away the dross from the silver and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king and his throne shall be established in righteousness.” Proverbs 25:4-5

Before making a silver vessel, you must remove the impurities from the silver ore. If a king surrounds himself with wicked people, his throne will not be established in righteousness. If a leader isn’t discriminating enough to choose the right people to accompany him and godly people to lead alongside him by, he is unfit to lead. A leader is known by his inner circle. Who were his mentors? Who are his heroes? Who are his friends?

5. Willing to protect the weak
“Open thy mouth for the dumb [unable to speak] in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

When someone is in peril and cannot speak for themselves, the king is to speak for them. If a leader does not have a protective spirit, he’s missed the reason for being a leader. God gives us leaders to protect us from evil people. Leaders should be defenders of those who cannot defend themselves. That is particularly true of precious unborn human persons.  

Are you aware that some laws are evil in the sight of God?

“Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.” (Psalm 94:20-21)

In this verse, the word “mischief” is better translated “evil.”

“Woe unto him that builds a town with blood and establishes a city by iniquity.” (Habakkuk 2:12)

In Jeremiah 22, God says through Jeremiah to the king, “If you shed innocent blood, God swears by Himself that He is going to destroy your nation.”

Some things may be legal but not right before Almighty God. Wicked people may make wicked laws, but that doesn’t make it right. And there’s nothing politically right that’s morally wrong. A leader must be one who stands up for the innocent and defenseless.

Look for a heart of compassion for the poor, needy, and the innocent who are about to be destroyed.

This is The Character God Requires.

Never be so uninformed as to say character doesn’t make a difference. You’re expecting God to bless iniquity!  He cannot and He will not. Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord. 

In Part 2 we’ll examine The Choices God Respects.