Why is Good Leadership So Rare in Civil Government?

Great post from Rev. Steve Murrel.

Just sent the following to Evangelicals Today Magazine. My assigned column topic was “How Mature are the Filipino Voters?” or “Mature Electorate Produces Good Governance.” Not sure I hit the topic/target, but here are my thoughts for ET:
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When I moved to the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos was President. That was 1984. Twenty-five years ago and five Presidents ago. During those years I have lived through good and bad leadership, both here and abroad.

Some naively think that if we could only elect an Evangelical president, then we would live happily ever after. I don’t think so. It is possible to be a good Christian and an inept leader. It is also possible to be a non-Christian and still be a good leader. It takes more than church membership and a consistent devotional life to qualify one to lead a nation a city or a barangay.

Having said that, I still believe the fear of God IS the best starting point for good leadership. So it would seem that nations with many godly people, would also elect godly leaders. Sadly, that is not the case. Nigeria has churches on every corner, including some of the largest churches in the world, yet it is consistently listed as one of the five most corrupt nations in the world. The Philippines is the “only Christian nation in Asia” and is also one of the most corrupt. Why?

I think we can find the answer in a Bible story. After many sad examples of poor leadership, the Book of Judges ends with these words: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”

Why were there no godly leaders in Israel at this time? The only parable in the Old Testament (Judges 9) reveals why good leadership is so rare, especially in civil government.

Here’s a quick summary of the parable: The olive tree, the fig tree and the vine – the three most important and honored plants in Israel – when asked to serve in leadership, all had the same response: “Should I give up my fruit/oil/wine?”

Since none of the qualified plants were willing to “give up” and sacrifice in order to serve in government, they were stuck with the worthless bramble weed. I think the same thing happens too often in the modern world.

The olive, the fig and the vine instinctively knew that serving in government involves a “giving up” of something. But sadly, many potentially great elected officials never run for office because they don’t want to give up their privacy, security and high salary.

Until godly Filipino “olives, figs and vines” are willing to give up something in order to run for elected office, we will be stuck with worthless “bramble” bushes as leaders.

Related post: Does God belong in Civil Goverment?

DOES GOD BELONG IN CIVIL GOVERNMENT?

“….There is no authority except that which God has established. The
authorities that exist have been established by God. For rulers are not a
terror to good works, but to evil. For he is God’s servant to do you good.
….For he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute God’s wrath on him
who practices evil, so be afraid…for he does not bear the sword in vain.
For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s
ministers attending continually to this very thing…”.

Romans 13: 1-6

According to His-story, the Bible, all authority on earth, including government
authority, flows directly from God. He established civil government to be His
servant and His minister of justice. He gave the civil authorities the sword, so
they might serve and protect His people. God cannot be separated from His
creation. Therefore, any claim of authority by the government, the church or any
other earthly institution, must conform to His Word, or it is counterfeit and void.
The question we must ask ourselves as Filipinos is this: does our nation’s
government today conform to God’s design and purpose?

God’s Word gives us a blueprint of the proper structure and function of every
earthly institution, including marriage, family, church and government. This
biblical blueprint represents His plan for mankind’s existence on earth.
According to His plan, there are limits to the jurisdiction of each institution
established under His ultimate authority. For instance, God’s word teaches us
that we are to render “to Caesar (the State), the things that are Caesar’s, and to
God, the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22: 17-21). The Bible instructs that one
thing that belongs to the State and not the Church is the use of the sword to
protect the citizenry. Likewise, there are certain things that belong to God and
not the State such our worship of God (the Church), our children, and our own
consciences and lives. In these matters, the State has no authority and should not
interfere. God teaches us that lawful taxation by “His servant and minister of
justice” (the State), is “to do us good”, and is a proper function of civil
government. He also teaches us to try to settle disputes before going to court,
and that we must resist the tyranny of unjust rulers.

What kind of government do we have in Philippines today? Is it a government that
functions as God’s servant and minister of justice “to do us good”, or is it a
government that has attempted to separate God from His creation by removing
Him from our schools, our government institutions, our courts, and our daily
lives? Does our government function according to God’s design and
purpose, or according to the will of men?

Do our government officials defend and protect the most vulnerable among us from evil
and injustice, or do they conspire to expand their power and deny the Filipino
people of their rightful liberties? Are the majority of our highest elected officials
and government leaders are honest, honorable and loyal Filipinos
who can be trusted to protect and defend our Constitution? Or have most of them
betrayed their oaths to God and Country? Is our income tax system the creation
and instrument of God’s “servants and ministers of justice”, or of power hungry
politicians and irresponsible bureaucrats who squander the fruits of our labor
and arrogantly refuse to be accountable to the Filipino people? Do our judges
acknowledge God’s ultimate authority over our nation and our nation’s laws, or
do they kneel at a different altar?

Just who are we as Filipinos? What are the underlying values and moral
principles that constitute the foundation of our common identity? From what
source do we derive our concepts of truth, justice and equality? Do our laws and
government policies in Philippines reflect a common understanding of moral
truth—as given to us by our Creator–or do they reflect the flawed reasoning of
imperfect men? Have we become so dumbed-down by our government, schools,
mass media and religious “leaders”, that we no longer care if our “public
servants” lie, cheat, steal and betrays our trust? Nation founders of United States of America believed
that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
Happiness”. Can we hold these truths to be self-evident?

In Philippines today there are essentially three views of the Church-State
relationship. They are represented by the following diagrams:**
a

Here, the State is sovereign over man and the Church, and dictates in civil and
religious matters. This relationship structure represents the secular humanistic
and socialist world-view.

b
Modern Christians have allowed the government to take control of the
Church in Philippines.
Many Christians today acknowledge that God is Sovereign over the (spiritual)
Church, but do not believe He has anything to do with the State. They believe
that God is separated by an impregnable wall from civil government.

c
God is sovereign over man. Through man, God exercises authority over the
government (the state), the church and the home. Each institution has separate
jurisdiction and must be kept separate. The Biblical View of the Church–State
relationship represents God’s plan for the structure and order of human society.
Listen to God’s Word on the subject:

“Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you:
Stand before God for the People, so that you may bring the difficulties to God.
And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in
which they must walk and the work that they must do. Moreover, you shall
select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating
covetousness; and place such men over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers
of hundreds, rulers of fifties and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people
at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you
(Moses), but every small matter they themselves shall judge….so Moses
heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. And Moses
chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people: rulers
of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. So they
judged the people at all times; the hard cases they brought to Moses, but they
judged every small case themselves”.
Exodus 18: 19-26 (note: The above
Scripture outlines the role of civil government as God’s servant and minister of
justice on earth. According to His design and plan, we are to appoint able men
who fear God, men of truth, men who hate dishonest gain as our earthly rulers.
Do we follow this standard to selecting our government leaders in Philippines
today?)

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven
and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped
with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life,
breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men
to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed
times and the boundaries of their dwellings”
. Acts 17: 24-26

“Do you not know that the Christians will one day judge and govern the
world? And if the world be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the
smallest matters? Do you know that we shall judge angels? How much more
things that pertain to this life? (the Apostle Paul then rebukes the Christians
for their apathy and irresponsibility that allowed non-Christians to be in
control): “If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you
appoint those who are least esteemed by the Church to judge? I say this to
your shame…”
I Corinthians 6: 2-5
This “shameful” situation has become a reality in Philippines today. The battle for
God’s earth is being lost mainly because Christians have forgotten, or ignored,
God’s design and purpose for His earthly institutions.

The Reverend Charles G. Finney wrote: “The church must take right ground in
regard to politics…the time has come that Christians must vote for honest men,
and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them. God cannot
sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the
church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as
this, and Christians must do their duty to the Country, as part of their duty to
God….He will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they (Christians)
take”.

Do you believe that our nation was established with God’s blessing, and that “all
authority in heaven and on earth” belongs to Him? Do you believe that our
Constitution is a sacred document written by godly men with noble intentions?
Do you believe that every Filipino citizen is entitled to the unalienable rights of
life, liberty and property? Do you believe that the government should be
accountable to the people and made to comply with the Philippine
Constitution? Do you believe that Philippines has lost its moral compass, and
drifted far from our founding principles of liberty and justice?

Related topic: Does God Belong In Civil Goverment?