I have felt the need to write some “religious” columns that confront the social views and actions of our day with the biblical perspectives on those issues. As you are likely aware, there are many things going on in our nation’s capitol, in the nation as a whole, that do not appear to be grounded in solid ethical or moral values.
But before I speak to those issues, I feel that we need a word on praying for our leaders; whether they are in government or business, whether they are national, state, or local leaders. I say that because the “leaders” in our country are those who often choose how most situations will be dealt with, and they need God’s help.
Situations don’t generally decide for themselves how they will play out. People make decisions, and then they act, or they put others into action, or they fail to act. If our leaders are going to make good decisions, they need the wisdom and guidance God has for them. That is why God tells us to pray for our leaders, even if you don’t agree with them, or even like them. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
God has placed leaders over us for our good. That does not mean they always act for our good; often they act for their own interests, or for that of a special interest group, or a powerful group that expects things from our leaders for their own advantage.
Our leaders are just men and women like you and me, frail, and given to temptations, impulses, or fears. They may surely know what is right at the moment, but at that moment they may not have the moral fortitude or courage to do what is right. They may not know how to vote on a particular issue, but they know how they are being told to vote by those in their ranks, and they don’t always have the courage to say, “Wait, I need to understand this before I vote on behalf of those who have placed me here.”
Most of the time we vote for our leaders, and then we disavow any further responsibility toward them. We say, “We have done our job; now it’s time for them to do theirs.” But that is not the case at all. Our ongoing job is to pray for them.
Our business leaders need our prayers no less than our government leaders. Every day they are faced with the oppressive taskmasters of “profit” and “expediency.” Profit isn’t bad; it can be a reward for the challenges of getting into business, and it is why most people start businesses. But profit is always challenged by many competing interests, like quality, or concern for the welfare of the employees making or delivering the product or service. “How can I do what’s right by my customer, my employee, the environment, or the nation, and still make a profit that is worth my time and energy?” These are questions the business owner faces every day.
Since profit can be a powerful, driving force in a business, we need to pray for our business leaders so that they will make the kind of decisions that will be good for those who are impacted by their business. We need to pray that our business leaders will see their businesses as a privileged opportunity to give others a means to take care of their families. We need to pray that our business leaders see their business as another piece of the overall picture of making this nation strong, now, and for the future.
There are many ways to do government and business. Truth be told, many of those ways are not good.
When is the last time you prayed for the leaders of our area, our national government, or our business leaders? Maybe one of the reasons our nation is heading in so many wrong directions at so many different levels is because we do not pray for them, or we do not pray for them as we should.
Sadly, many people make fun of them, even people who call themselves Christians. At times we curse them. Mostly we ignore them. But these are not things God calls us to do. Instead, He calls us to pray for them, and to give them the respect their positions are due. (Romans 13:7)
If you are a Christian you asked God to forgive you of your sins, and God makes it clear that He expects you to forgive others of theirs. That would include our leaders.
Before you call God’s judgment down on their heads, call upon God to give to them a heart to do good, to do what is right, and then ask Him to give them the opportunities and backing to stand up for the things that they should.
Pray for them to do what is right, and then pray for yourself to do the same.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.