Choosing Our Leaders

Rev. John Odhner

This week many of us are voting for people who will lead our state and country for the next few years. My thoughts turn towards the guidance the Lord gives in choosing leaders. When Moses had led the people of Israel through the wilderness to the borders of the Promised Land, he warned them: “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you… and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses.” (Deuteronomy 17:14-17)

Their ruler was not to be someone who acquired many horses from Egypt (for a strong army), or had many wives (for pleasure or political advantage) or sought great wealth. Spiritually horses, wives, and wealth are self-centered viewpoints (“self-intelligence”) and worldly values.

Most of all, the king should be someone who studies the Law, the Lord’s Word. “It shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment.” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20) We need leaders who are humble before the Lord, the law of the land, and their fellow citizens.

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, doing lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Rulers who regard the laws as higher than themselves are wise; rulers who regard themselves as above the law are not. (New Jerusalem 322)

The law that is justice should be enacted in the realm by individuals who are skilled in the law, wise, and God-fearing, and thereafter the ruler and subjects should live by that law. Rulers who live by the duly enacted law set an example for their subjects by doing so. They are true rulers. (New Jerusalem 322-323)

As we count the people’s choices, I offer this prayer from our Liturgy no. 904: “Let our leaders ever be those that love and honor Thee. Let the pow’rs by Thee ordained be in righteousness maintained. In the hearts of all increase love of piety and peace; thus united, we shall stand one wide, free and happy land.