Over the years, we have heard and seen the acrimonious manner and ways in which politicians treat one another based on their own self-interests, instead of the constituents they represent.
For the most part, many Liberians are frustrated by the country's snail-paced progress and wonder when Liberia will ever become a shining nation on a hill. After so many years of self-destruction for the sake of freedom from corruption and every form of oppression, we are now realizing that the kind of politics that foments divisiveness, destruction, and death is unwarranted. Thus, as the national elections draw near, I encourage every Christian to deal with the leadership crisis facing Liberia.
The Role Of The Christian Community
Some people in the religious community have the idea that God wants us to stay out of government or refrain from politicking. The good news is that God is interested in the political life of any nation. Proverbs 29:2 declares, "When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan."
The truth of the matter is that government and public officials must look up to the Almighty God as the ultimate measure and fundamental source to lead. (Romans 13:1). Leadership is crucial. If leadership is not what it ought to be, what would the constituency be? The general rule of democracy in Liberia and any other nation is that we get the kind of leadership we deserve. So, it is a privilege as a Liberian citizen to vote.
For a Christian, it is his or her duty to vote. Failure to do so is disobeying God. Jesus said, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21). “Caesar” means government, and the context implies that our government is for the people, of the people, by the people. That is precisely the reason people support national government through payment of taxes and exercise of voting rights. Therefore, it is unthinkable to fail to vote when it is clear that God ordains government and told his people to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1).
So then how do we vote for the right kind of leader? Well, there are some basic Christian principles and thoughts concerning leadership. They pertain to certain characteristics that God requires of leaders.
Character vs Skill
It frightens me when my compatriots say what difference a person's character makes when he can lead. Moreover they argue, character does not count but skills. Folks, there's a fatal flaw in such reasoning. If character does not make a difference, then it goes that God does not count. Nonetheless, the biblical reality is that character matters. All good character is based and rooted in God!
And if anyone denies that, what he is saying is that we can do everything without God's blessings. Moreover, an ungodly man without character contaminates everything he touches. The fact remains that God deals with leaders of all kind including kings, princes, nobles, and authorities that God has appointed and people have elected into office. (Psalms 148: 11). Therefore, an earthly leader or ruler ought to worship God in the right spirit and mind. The Proverbs extol the righteous leader: “The king gives stability to the land by justice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan” (29:2); “If a king judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever” (29:14); “It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established on righteousness” (16:12). A leader may carry a big black Bible and attend church, but if he or she is unrighteous, ungodly, he or she is unfit to be a leader. It is not only that a leader should be godly but wise as well.
We Need a Wise Leader
Does Liberia need a smart or wise leader? In Second Chronicles 1:7-10, we read that King Solomon did not ask God for riches nor honor but wisdom and knowledge to lead a nation. In addition, he acknowledged his own weakness of inadequacy to rule over his nation of people. A wise leader would ask God for wisdom, for wisdom is gift from God! (Proverbs 8:11-16). It is my prayer that God will give Liberia not a smart leader, but a wise leader. Why? Liberians have experienced all forms of violent acts, deaths, and oppression in the name of democratic liberation at the expense of leaders who professed to know God.
My friends, we cannot just read the newspapers or watch television or listen to reports of those who have rule over us. We need to get into the Word of God and see the indication that things are not right, and especially, when we do not see any evidence of anybody being wise enough, brilliant enough, humble enough, and submissive enough to come up with the right answers to stabilize Liberia. We say things are going to get better in our nation while we keep walking in circles. The problem with some Liberian politicians today is that they are not statesmen.
They make decisions based on human opinion and what will personally benefit them in the short term. Therefore, they are not leading according to godly wisdom, but human opinion. When I glean through the life of Moses, I wonder how far Moses would have gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt? Did Jesus Christ preach the truth based on a poll in Israel? Where Martin Luther's Reformation would have gone, if he had taken a poll in the 19th century?
Folks, the poll are public opinion of the moment that counts, but it could be right or wrong or undependable. Liberia needs a leader with fortitude, honesty, and belief in the right that makes epic in the world. It is best to vote for a person who has God's wisdom and submits himself or herself under the service and worship of the Almighty God! And such leader should believe in God's absolute truth. "Arrogant lips are unsuited to fool-how much worse lying lips to a ruler." (Proverbs 17:7).
Honesty is so significant in leadership because liars and leaders are not the same. Proverbs 20:28 says, "Mercy and truth preserve the king, and by lovingkindness he upholds his throne." If a person will not tell the truth, then there's a basic character flaw and he or she is absolutely unfit for leadership. Moreover, it tells something about the person’s heart; he or she tells lie because he or she is a liar. And anyone who tells a lie has a heart like the devil (John 8:44). Our country needs a leader that will not only speak the truth but walk in it with choice of helpers that surrounds him. A leader is known by those around him or her and not a person who listens to a lie. "if a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked." (Proverbs 29:12).
It is obvious in this text that if a leader is surrounded by wicked people, his or her executive office is unrighteous. Therefore, a leader ought to discriminate in his or her choice of helpers. A leader should not only surround himself with good people, but also learn to control his or her sexual impulses.
Sexual Purity Matters
According to Proverbs 31:2, sexual immorality destroys a leader. If a man or woman fails to keep his or her earthly sacred vow to his or her spouse, how would he or her keep other promises? Is he or her then fit to lead? If he or she lacks control of sexual urges, how shall he or she react in the time of national crisis? If a leader cannot set a moral tone for self, how would he or her set moral tone for the young people of the nation? We have repeatedly seen how respected leaders have remarkably failed in this aspect of life. Before we were saved by God's grace, we once lived such an impenitent life. (Ephesians 5:8).
"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:3-7).
Folks, since God has delivered us from the darkness of sin, we are now obliged to live a godly family life. And doing so may warrant a leader to be sober. The Proverbs warn about the danger of giving in to alcoholic drink (31:4-5). In addition, an intoxicant distorts the spirit of a person (Ephesians 5:18) . We need a leader that should be sober and also possess a protective spirit; this means protecting the weak. If a leader fails to protect the weak, then he or she misses the reason for being a leader. Indeed, leaders and the civil magistrate are given by God to protect us from evil people (Romans 13:3). Therefore, leaders are primary protector of the weak that cannot defend themselves.
Defend the Weak
" Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9). What we are witnessing in Liberia today is failure of some church leaders to speak absolute truth to power for fear of retribution. Both government and church leaders should speak for the weak and not endorse their destruction. Prophet Jeremiah said to the king of his day, "....Your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion." (Jeremiah 22: 16-17). We pray that God gives us more Jeremiahs to speak the truth to power. Shedding of innocent blood undermines spiritual and constructive growth and progress in our homeland.
My friends, do not be ignorant to say that character does not matter in leadership. God does not bless iniquity. Therefore, we want a leader that stands up for those who cannot defend themselves as well as the innocent.
We Have a Choice
God gives us the choice to even elect wicked leaders; he sets the standards, but he allows us to choose wicked leaders contrary to His will (Hosea 8:4). By our choice, we will have wicked leaders and either weep or rejoice. Liberia is in desperate trouble! God is taking the protective hedge off this nation.
The blood, tears, and sweats we have historically experienced are the price we pay for turning our back on God. Oh, I pray that there be a spiritual revival in Liberia, an awakening of the people's heart and turning to God! Wherever a person rules, God is the overhead. Politicians come and go, but God endures; He is the King of all kings. We did not vote God in, so we cannot impeach or vote Him out of our lives (Isaiah 40:23-24; Psalm 47:7;Psalm 29:10-11).
The Almighty God is not out of control, we the people are (Judges 17:6). When the wicked leader with wicked machinations stands with big feet and big chest and shakes his or her fist in the face of God, and makes wicked decrees and laws, God still rules from heaven. What exemplary legacy have our past and present leaders left to follow? We have seen iron- fisted and macho man persona being displayed on theater of the Liberian presidential stage; we have witnessed violence, wanton destruction, and countless loss of lives as recipe for change and stability in Liberia, yet the country is still reeling from ashes of its ugly past with unforgiving hearts.
What Can We Do Now?
We need to start building up the young people with God's truth. We should vote for the right kind of leadership that brings honor and glory to God. Overall, we should pray for soulful revival and prepare for survival and look for the arrival of our only hope that will never disappoint--Jesus Christ.
This is the long-awaited one who is coming to rule the world in justice, righteousness, and truth (Isaiah 9:7). Our lasting hope is in heaven where we have earned our citizenship and not in government. (Philippians 3:20).
About the Author
Dr. Alex Redd is a theologian and teacher. He lectures systematic theology and apologetics at Christian Bible Academy in California. He received a Doctor of Theology (Th.D) degree from the Christian Bible College and Seminary in Missouri and Master of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Counseling, Political Science, and Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He formerly served as school counselor at school districts in the states of Nevada and California. A co-founder of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) in 1998, he once worked as producer and host of "Sunrise", a news magazine program at DC101FM in Monrovia in 1996.
In late December 1997, the journalist sufferred the indignity of kidnap and torture at the hands of some state security elements of the erstwhile Taylor government for his investigation into the murder of Samuel Dokie and family in Bong County. Thereafter he was jailed, charged with treason and report of false information state prosecutors could not substantiate.
The treason charges were subsequently dropped and a bail was granted following legal intervention by Attorneys Samuel Kofi Woods and Tiawon Gongloe. In early 1998, he left Liberia to resettle in the US for fear of losing his life.