The Moral Responsibility of Leadership and Our Choice of Leaders

This year’s presidential election was very close—much as expected. The margin of victory for President Obama was about 2 percent of the total number of votes cast. His victory in 2008 was only slightly larger, but the smallest of a majority is all that is needed to compel his supporters that his leadership will keep the country moving in the right direction. Only time will tell what that really means for all of us.

Prior to the election, all of us are mercilessly bombarded with information with reasons why to vote for a candidate and just as many reasons why you should not even consider the opponent. All of this is considered a “sport” by political insiders, but the combative ads and condescending rhetoric is often misinterpreted as spiteful and mean-spirited to the casual observer—it puts more people off than informs them. This approach is still very successful in shaping—or even affirming—the thoughts and views of the voters who are willing to participate. You will find yourself disillusioned if you allow yourself to get swept in like a whirlpool with all of the negative ads and election hype. In fact, some people are so put off by the process that they conclude that neither candidate is likeable or trustworthy; as a result, they choose not to vote at all. I have had many discussions with people over the years where they have concluded that it is not worth the aggravation to research and decide who the better candidate is. Much of this also has to do with the fact that it does not seem to matter to the non-voter who is in charge in Washington. The perception is that nothing really changes and nothing is getting better anyway, right?

The fallacy of this way of thinking is that it has always mattered who our president is. This also applies to any elected government official, as well. We have become desensitized to a state of paralysis over the years because of all of the bureaucracy, red tape and poor stewardship in how our tax dollars are used, but that does not mean we are to be complacent or to lower our expectations on our leadership just because “it’s always been this way in Washington.” In fact, our expectations of quality leadership in the White House and in government should be at an all time high. We should not be settling for anything less.

Leadership has a paramount responsibility to those that are being governed. A leader should be openly challenged in areas where promises are made in order to get elected when those promises aren’t kept or fulfilled. A leader should be accountable to all of his constituents in his decision-making process. All told, an elected official at all levels of government is selected for leadership with the understanding that he or she is held to a higher standard—a higher moral standard.

In the same way, these higher moral standards must never be compromised in the same way that voters should never take the easy way out in the candidate selection process. The electorate should always be compelled to pray for who their leaders are to be, and for them to hold a higher moral standard—not the standard determined by freedom of choice according to human reasoning—but God’s holy standard.

Here is where many people will depart from the use of God’s standard of viewing these matters because it is viewed as being “old-fashioned” or “unrealistic” in today’s world. My contention is that it is the only standard for looking at everything that we do and every choice that we make. Why? Simply because our lack of such a standard has been prominent throughout society, and that the absence of a godly standard has perpetuated a steady and steep decline of our societal value system. At one time in United States history, for example, our education system had a biblical foundation and principles within its classroom instruction along with a regular teaching of the bible. Today, we will only see these same practices in a private school environment, and in not nearly the same way it was done a century ago. As our educational values and standards have slipped, so too has our societal moral compass when it comes to what is right and wrong and our ability to make decisions. The absence of the bible is when decisions are made based upon what we think is right as opposed to measuring these issues with God’s uncompromising standard.

Keep in mind that God’s standard is what is good for us—it is not punitive. The world views God’s standard as inhibiting and rife with limits as to how we live. In fact, it is exactly the opposite.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8)

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The responsibility of leadership is to heed God’s Word and follow it as closely as possible as they make important decisions. It does not mean that a leader is to be perfect. Many complex issues that a leader faces can often lead to mistakes, but it is the heart of the leader who is sincerely seeking God’s wisdom in decision-making that leads to success in their stewardship under God. Moreover, the leader’s focus on God sets the example for those under his leadership to follow the same principles in their own decision-making. That’s the kind of trickle-down effect that we really want as a people and as a nation.

“…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Corinthians 7:14)

President Obama’s challenge for his second term is to do more than just claim that he is making his decisions based upon biblical principles and prayerful consideration—it needs to be evident in his existing policies. The bible is very clear when it comes to same-sex marriage and abortion. While there are existing laws that may support the worldly views of same-sex marriage and abortion, it does not mean that the president has to publicly endorse them. He does not make law according to our government structure; therefore, why take a stand in support of these things? Are his public positions good for the overall moral fiber of our country, or are they merely an ongoing perpetuation of a greater moral weakness of the United States that desperately needs to be addressed? A true believer in Jesus Christ cannot support these positions and should do everything possible to educate others on what it means to resist any compromise of God’s Word. If you compromise here, you’ll find other ways to justify behavior contrary to God’s holy standards—complete disobedience of His Word. When there is prayerful consideration of how God’s standard is to be applied, God will shed the appropriate light on every situation and circumstance and provide direction. From there, you can pay attention to it or dismiss it for your own view or rationalization (at your own risk).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7)

“For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you.” (Proverbs 2:10-11)

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

My continuing prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is that President Obama will truly heed God’s Word in all decisions that he makes and that he will be the best possible example of leadership for our country. In our view of the existing evidence and track record, this appears to be a very tall order; however, Jesus, in the only way He can, puts it best:

“…With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26b)


Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

All verses from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

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