The President of the United States has deep influence not only within his own nation, but over many other nations as well. As citizens of the U.S. prepare to select the next president, they must carefully consider the character attributes of the candidates in order to ensure—as much as possible—that such influence will be wielded for good…and for God.
After God liberated the nation of Israel from their bondage in Egypt, a single individual—Moses—was responsible for adjudicating disagreements and educating the people about God’s laws. He was given wise advice from a trusted family member, to “look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people” (emphasis added).
This passage, Exodus 18:13-27, recounting the experience of Moses and the people of Israel, offers guidelines for U.S. citizens in the present election cycle, and for any other nations who face the solemn task of choosing a new leader.
- Fear the Lord More Than Man: Devoted followers of God—those who practice the truth of God’s Word—are the most qualified for national leadership. Does the candidate demonstrate a reverence for the Lord?
- Not Self-Centered: Humility allows a leader to empower others to participate in decision-making and allows for effective delegation. Who is at the center of the candidate’s world: self or nation?
- Noble Character: Even though contemptible behavior is often (and unfortunately) more noticeable than virtue, the reputation of a person of noble character should be marked by the fruits of the Spirit: love, peace, patience, faithfulness, self-control. What does the candidate’s reputation reveal about his or her character?
- Proven Capacity: The job description for U.S. President should terrify any but the most qualified applicants. Many will claim to have the ability, but few actually do. Has the candidate demonstrated the capacity to get the job done?
- Tested Trustworthiness: Not only must a candidate be trustworthy to do what he or she says, but he or she must also be trusted to do what is right. This is why #1 on this list is so important: we can much easier trust a candidate if we know that he or she is trusting God. Does the candidate possess a track record of trustworthiness?
- Integrity Above Reproach: “Funny business” of any sort, including unethical financial or business dealings, should automatically disqualify an individual from our consideration. Does the candidate stand up for what is right, even if he or she is standing alone?
- Discernment: Understanding when to speak, when to remain silent, and when to defer to others is a mark of a strong, discerning leader. Every human being, even the President of the United States, has limitations. Has the candidate demonstrated a discerning character, to know when and how to involve others?
I am personally compelled to follow the biblical example of Moses and trust God’s judgment about the required attributes of a national leader. While no candidate may reach all of these rather high standards, their words and their actions can help us to discern if these life-giving character traits are ones that they even value, let alone pursue.