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:
For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah. . . . The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, 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. (Isa. 3:1, 3-4, 12, KJV).
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 to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (Rom. 13:1).
“Do you mean to tell me that the president, the king, the commissioner, is “ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1, KJV)?” 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 am 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” (Rom. 13:1, KJV). 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:
The God of Israel said,
The Rock of Israel spoke to me:
“He who rules over men must be just,
Ruling in the fear of God” (2 Sam. 23:3).
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 who rules over men must be just.” That’s the second absolutely necessary quality of a leader. May God give us leaders like that in our time!
3. Realize That We Live in a Fallen World
Now there is 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 fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
That has very real implications in the life of a culture, and determines how a leader must deal with that culture.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (Rom. 5:12).
As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one” (Rom. 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.
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:
And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. (Luke 12:42-43).
Here is presented the picture of a man who has been called away to a far country. While he is away, he has got to have someone take care of his property. The person who takes care of the property of another, who is put in trust of that property, is called a steward. While his master is away, he must be honest and responsible—even when nobody is looking. That good stewardship is what keeps it all going.
5. Must Not Seek Human Glory
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 a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18).
So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.
But the word of God grew and multiplied (Acts 12:21-24).
Is that not 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 give 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 move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)? What is 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 will not work unless God is running things.
When the Bible says, “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1, KJV), 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 is that attitude, fidelity to God, that coalesced and made a nation come to pass. It did not 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.
I am concerned about this nation of ours, and about the nations of Western civilization. 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. Do not 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 us not have that happen in our generation.
Dr. Dave Breese (1926-2002) was an internationally known speaker, teacher and author. He founded the ministry of Christian Destiny in 1963, and through it proclaimed the gospel on weekly radio and television programs and in numerous books and booklets. In 1987, he also became the president and Bible teacher on The King Is Coming telecast, a role that he filled until his death in 2002. Other organizations that Dr. Breese served during his distinguished ministry career included Youth For Christ, Awana, Back to the Bible, National Religious Broadcasters and National Association of Evangelicals. A frequent conference speaker and a master at explaining the relevance of Bible prophecy, he was also known for his wisdom and wit. It is a great honor to include him as part of the inaugural class of Revived Classics authors for Dispensational Publishing House.
This article originally appeared in the September 2004 issue of Destiny Newsletter.
Copyright © 2004 Christian Destiny, Inc. All rights reserved.
The article is reprinted here by permission of Christian Destiny.
For more information regarding Christian Destiny, go to www.ChristianDestiny.org.
Other material copyright © 2016 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated,
are taken from the New King James Version®.
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Scripture quotations marked KJV are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.