It seems our nation is becoming more and more divided as large groups of people focus on and become vocal about their own personal desires. Divisions are forming as social groups form up on one side or the other of many issues. A large part of this divisiveness involves media and pundits attacking our leaders. At city, county, state, and national levels, leadership is under attack.
We as Christians need to refrain from bad-mouthing our leaders. The Bible calls this murmuring, and condemns it. The word translated as murmur is also used as “complain” or “grumble” and refers to the grousing of people to one another rather than addressing the issue directly.
- 1 Corinthians 10:10 – nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. (NKJV)
- Jude 1:16 – These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words], having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. (KJV)
- John 6:43 – Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. (NKJV)
- 2Timothy 2:23-25 – But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, (NKJV)
Romans 13:1 says, Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
This can be a bitter pill to swallow when we feel at odds with our leadership. But unless that leadership is ordering us to defy God’s word, we are to submit to their authority. If we are not to grumble and complain among ourselves and if we are not to rise up in revolt, what are we to do about leadership we disapprove of?
In 1st Timothy 2:1-4 Paul instructs this young leader of a major church:
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NKJV emphasis added)
The question now becomes what do we pray for concerning our leaders? Do we pray that God will force them to conform to our will? No. Bear in mind that the Roman Emperor at the time this was written was Nero, a cruel persecutor of Christians. Paul is telling followers of Jesus to pray for this man! Pray what?
Paul is saying, “pray for peace” and “pray for their salvation”.
Praying for Peace with Leaders
Praying for peace can take the form of asking that our leader take no notice of us. This was certainly true in Paul’s day when being brought to the notice of the Emperor or even a local Governor often ended in trial and death.
It can also take the form of living in peace with those around us. Avoiding riots and demonstrations promotes peace among ourselves and avoids being noticed by leadership (see above).
Praying that God will use this leader to promote His plan is a double-edged sword, for sometimes God’s plan includes things that make us uncomfortable for a while. It also seems nonsensical: God will execute His plan, why should we pray that it be so? For the same reason we pray for the necessities of life.
God knows that we need food, shelter, and safety: why pray for them? Because in the praying we are acknowledging to God that we know these things come from God. When offering thanks for our food we are reminded that God provides it — even when the food was purchased with money we earned through our labors at a job, our having (and keeping) that job was/is dependent upon God’s blessing and timing. When we pray for God’s continued mercies, we imprint on ourselves that fact that God looks after us.
When praying for a leader, even one we don’t like, we recognize that God is ultimately the leader of all leaders.
Praying for the Salvation of Our Leaders
Our prime directive from Jesus was to seek and save the lost. That includes authorities placed over us. How can any leader be made more compliant to Gods will than for him or her to become saved? If we think that is impossible, then our prayers are wasted, for we must pray in confidence and the knowledge that God can accomplish anything. Verse 4 of our passage in 1 Timothy tells us that God desires all men to be saved. We know that not all men will be saved because we have free will to choose and some freely choose to reject Jesus and follow their own desires. We also know that God knows who will and who won’t accept, because he has omniscience: the ability to see through all time and know what will happen long before it does.
We are not omniscient. We live in the present moment. Everything behind us is history that cannot be changed. Everything ahead of us is guesswork. We have only this present moment, second by second, in which to live and make decisions. What happens in our future results from our decisions in these moments. Those decisions then become our history. But if we base our momentary decisions on what we’ve learned through our history, we become better and better at steering our future. Especially when that history is based on God’s Word.
When we pray to God for our leaders, we are acknowledging to God that He has placed these leaders, even those we don’t like, over us for His purpose. When we are compliant to civil law, when we seek peace among our neighbors and with our local leaders, we please God. It all comes down to putting the Word of God ahead of our own personal desires. In a society that is more and more MEcentric, this becomes less and less popular. Another sign that the end is approaching.
We are to hold to the Word of God without compromise. But we are not to murmur and grumble, we are not to engage in civil disobedience. We are to pray for our leaders: pray that they will lead well and God will use them. Pray for peace from them. Pray that they will come to accept Jesus. In praying these things we remind ourselves that God is, ultimately, in control.