“According to God’s directive, a good king would not be focused on collecting personal horses, gaining plural wives, or acquiring pockets full of silver and gold. Consequently, he would not legislate and guide based upon that which would profit himself and his preferred party.”
When it comes to the President of the United States or any other elected civil servant, what sort of individual do we need?
In the church, when it is time to select elders and deacons, what sort of men ought we pursue?
As our children pursue leadership posts in their schools, how ought they to serve as presidents, vice presidents, treasurers, or chaplains?
Then, as men and women consider their God-given leadership roles in their families, what characteristics ought to be found?
An interesting directive is given from the Lord, through Moses, to the children of Israel, and it is found in Deuteronomy 17:
When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)
If Israel would harken to the leadership of God, they would install the sort of monarch, governmental official, or leader that God would choose. The following would be the required characteristics:
- God’s leader would be a worshiping brother. In ancient days, he would not be a foreigner but one who had attached himself to the covenant community. He would be a practicing worshiper of Yahweh. In our day, this would be an individual who has come to an end of himself, found hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, submitted to him as Lord, and rooted himself in Christ’s church. God’s chosen leader would not be merely religious; he would be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
- God’s leader would not allow his heart to wander. According to God’s directive, a good king would not be focused on collecting personal horses, gaining plural wives, or acquiring pockets full of silver and gold. Consequently, he would not legislate and guide based upon that which would profit himself and his preferred party. Regardless of personal ambition, Israel’s king would not return to Egypt. Instead of focusing on himself, he would be externally focused on God and his neighbor. Similarly, today’s good leader would not focus on his personal preferences, his personal pleasure, the making great of his name, the perpetual keeping of his seat, or the advancing of his own net worth. Instead, the good leader would focus on God, church, country, student body, and family. He would be a servant ready to sacrifice himself for his sheep, not one eager to fleece the flock given him by the King of kings.
- God’s leader would be regularly instructed by the Word of God; as a matter of fact, he would have his own, personal, hand-written copy. And more important than this, he would read it all the days of his life. And even more important than this, he would fear God and do all that he learned in the sacred text. Oh, how good it would be for our nation, our church, our schools, and our families if God’s Word was the instruction manual guiding our decisions. Some walk according to the counsel of the wicked. Some stand in the path of sinned. Some sit in the seat of the scornful. And some are daily instructed by the Word of God. Those that are led by such well-watered leaders, they are more likely to prosper than those who neglect God’s sacred counsel.
- God’s leader would be humble. He would remember how he arrived in his honored position. He would realize his position is a sacred trust. He would not be wise in his own eyes but eager to listen to God’s counsel. And as a result, his eyes would not be haughty; his heart would not be lifted up. He would constantly consider himself first to be a servant of God and then a servant of his brothers. Arrogance would not be associated with his name and term.
Therefore friends, let us repent and pray that we might be such leaders. Then, following our prayer of confession, let us make the necessary adjustments in our own lives. Those who must follow us, they need for us to be men and women of the Book. They need for us to be humble servants of God and neighbor.
Then, let us pray for and pursue such leaders. Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, Xerxes, Herod, and Caesar fleeced the flock and greatly harmed the people of God. Similar men and women are still plaguing our nation, our churches, our schools, and families. Contrarily, individuals like Moses, David, Josiah, Esther, Nehemiah, and especially Jesus were sacrificial shepherds who profited God’s people. Such selfless shepherds exist today, but they are rare. So, may we find those Christian servants, who value leading under the authority of the Living God, and may we elect the kind of “kings” that God would choose, and not those like the nations that surround us.
Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.