Monday, February 29, 2016

Primary Decisions: Seeking The Leader We Need, Not Deserve

Super Tuesday is tomorrow. The Presidential Primary season is in full swing as candidates try hard, and more raucously than I can remember, to make their best case to the American people. This campaign season is a sad state of affairs. At stake is not only the highest office in the land or the most powerful position in the world but the future of our country, or so we are told. 

While candidates of the past have represented a myriad of positions and policy platforms they have usually presented, at least to some degree, a viable option depending on your politics. Well then again, maybe not. The saying that “picking the lesser of two evils” seems to be a maxim of our Presidential elections since I started voting in 1980. 

This year however the leading candidates, in both parties, leave us with less than decent options as both leaders lack the character that should be required for the Oval Office. The lesser candidates lack the experience needed, which is not uncommon, and while some of the other 'also rans' might be better options they will inevitably end up as, well, 'also rans.' It’s a sad state of national governing affairs. 

While it is said that God gives us the leaders we deserve, we can and must now, desperately, cry out for the leader we need and appeal to and travail for God’s mercy. Maybe the Lord will relent and give us the leader he supports, with the character he desires. Nothing is too difficult for God, not even our politics. 

What might the leader with the character God supports look like? 

Consider Josiah. Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years, from 641/640 to 610/609 BC. Apparently, God isn’t concerned with age but character. 

Josiah is however only known through biblical texts. No reference to him exists in surviving texts of the period from Egypt or Babylon, and no clear archaeological evidence, such as inscriptions bearing his name, has been found. Perhaps that indicates this is a simply an inspired story about the ideal leader God would prefer, if only his people would repent. But we can trust God’s Word concerning Josiah. 

Josiah’s example can serve as a good voter guide this Presidential Election season. Consider these qualities of Josiah as outlined in 2 Chronicles 34: 
1)      Josiah was committed to a righteous lifestyle

  "He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed the ways of his father             
   David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.” 2 Chronicles 34:2. 

            Josiah was a wise leader, not given to ideological swings.

2)      Josiah was committed to prayer 
       "in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father     David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols.” 2 Chronicles 34:3. 

Josiah understood leadership wasn’t about him. 

3)       Josiah was committed to fighting against sin 
       “…in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, the carved images and the molten images…” 2 Chronicles 34:3b. 

Josiah stood for the right things. 

4)      Josiah was committed to building up the worship of God
     “Then they gave it into the hands of the workmen who had the oversight of the house of the LORD, and the workmen who were working in the house of the LORD used it to restore and repair the house.” 2 Chronicles 34:10. 

Josiah honored God with his leadership. 

5)      Josiah was committed to reverence for God and his law
     “When the king heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, ‘Go, inquire of the LORD for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book which has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD which is poured out on us because our fathers have not observed the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book.’” 2 Chronicles 34:1-21. 

      Josiah understood that God’s ways are best. 

6)      Josiah was committed to brokenness and humility before God

      “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 34:27. 

Josiah was a servant leader. 

7)      Josiah was committed to God’s Word and its importance to the whole of his Kingdom

 “Then the king sent and gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. The king went up to the  house of the LORD and all the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the Levites and all the people, from the greatest to the least; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD.” 2 Chronicles 34:29-30. 

Josiah knew were his power and authority came from.

8)      Josiah was committed to covenant action with God in thoroughly mobilizing his sphere of influence 
     “Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book. Moreover, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand with him. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.” 2 Chronicles 34:31-32. 

Josiah led by the example of his life not mere words.

The Hebrew name Josiah literally means "supported of Yah" (or God). The story of Josiah’s life outlines the character of the leader that God supports. The Lord will appoint lesser rulers and allow evil rulers in his sovereignty but has given us this example to consider. 

How does your candidate do in comparison?

I am not going to suggest any candidate meets the Josiah model. Granted, these metrics represent the ideal, according to God’s standard, and there has never been an American President, or other earthly leader, who has come close to the Josiah model...except Jesus. Some have certainly done better than others. Sadly, as a nation we keep drifting further away from the leader “supported of Yah.”

What should alarm all Biblically minded and sincere Christians, is that it is doubtful that Josiah would gain a Primary victory in the current state of our electorate. Today, many Evangelicals, allegedly the most Biblically minded of our populace, are favoring the one candidate who has done more to perpetuate the antithesis of Biblical values than any other candidate in our history. 

No, we should not expect a Josiah. Our national sin cries out from millions of unborn against God’s mercy. Our national condition demands God’s judgment. Perhaps that is why we may end up with such poor choices for our next national leader. God does give the people a leader they deserve. Sometimes to bring revival like Josiah. Other times to bring judgment. 

I pray we have not reached a place where the Lord will declare, "Do not pray for this people or offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress." (Jeremiah 11:14). 

Thankfully, God's mercy triumphs over judgment.

Tomorrow, I will vote in the Primary for the one man I think comes closest to the character of Josiah. For 2016 however I am weighing my decisions even to cast a vote, for the first time in my 10th general election, depending on how the Primary goes.

Should we simply vote for the “lesser of two evils" come November, because we fear what the other party might do? Paul urges, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Paul asks good questions to prayerfully contemplate, if you're a Christian, as we consider our vote and for Living Sent Today.

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