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What should you expect in a political leader?  What should you strive for if you are a political leader?

Some say it’s all about making sure you have the right political stances – the right philosophy.  These people choose a candidate simply because they agree on the issues of national debt, immigration, healthcare, social welfare, abortion, energy sources, ecology, or homosexual marriage.

girl cityThose things are certainly important, but if I’m honest with myself, I can admit that there are strong arguments on both sides of most of those issues.  So that can’t be the only thing necessary, simply because it’s so subjective.

Some people will say the most important thing about a political candidate is his or her effectiveness at the political process.  These are the people with whom Bill Clinton’s slogan in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid” really resonated.  They would agree that the person and his beliefs do not matter at all, so long as he can get the job done.

But as the American people, we should be able to admit that ability alone can’t be the only important thing – he was an extremely effective president, but we all know how Bill Clinton’s presidency ended.  It was a personal matter that brought him down.

Character

I’m going to go out a limb here and say character is actually the most important thing.

Yes, your views and your effectiveness matter.  But I believe character trumps it all.

Let’s look at this from a biblical viewpoint – 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 give us character qualities that are non-negotiable for elders and deacons in the church.  Obviously, a political leader is not the same thing as a church leader.  They have completely different goals and purposes.

However, those two passages, if you consider what the qualifications truly are, are actually just two lists of traits that every single mature person should have.  And if you look at it from that point of view, you’ll see that character is of the utmost importance.

Character trumps it all. #election2016 Click To Tweet

Anyone with the amount of responsibility and autonomy as a civic leader must have high moral standards.  If not, they will ruin their own reputation, harm their people, destroy communities, and exploit freedom and resources.

Here are some of the highlights from the qualification (mature person) lists, which should also be found in a civic leader:

Above Reproach

A person’s reputation is so important.  I’m sure you’ve heard that common mantra:  perception is reality.  In short, it doesn’t matter what kind of person you are if everybody thinks you are a terrible human being.

And a person in political office will not only ruin his own reputation with a scandal, but he or she will embarrass and harm the city, state or nation which they lead.

On one hand, people will talk, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  But on the other hand, a good leader is able to keep himself out of situations which has the potential of gossip-worthy activity.  Then no one has anything to talk about.

Honest With Integrity

There is not much worse than a shady politician.  Someone who embezzles money or who is two-faced in order to keep in power.  This one is pretty self-evident.  Don’t be that guy.

Faithful to His Wife (Or Her Husband)

umbrella coupleAh… one of the biggest pitfalls of public figures – sex scandals.

A person in leadership simply must be able to be faithful to their spouse.  It demonstrates many things – loyalty, the ability to keep commitments, discipline in the face of temptation, and most of all love.

Able to Manage His (Her) Family Well

In verse 5 of the 1 Timothy passage from above, the Apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”

And you might also say, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the city (or district or county or state or nation)?”

Hospitable

This might not be one that you thought of, but it is extremely important.

But as explained in an earlier article, hospitality is more than just having your friends over for barbecues.  It actually means taking strangers into your home and caring for them when they can’t care for themselves.

This demonstrates other very important character qualities:  compassion, generosity, selflessness.

You need those things in a person who is given charge over the population.

They did not accomplish things by binge-watching Breaking Bad. #discipline Click To Tweet

Disciplined

statue of liberty2You ever read about people who accomplished great things in their lives?  John Wesley, Theodore Roosevelt, Mother Theresa, Winston Churchill.

They did not accomplish those things by binge-watching Breaking Bad or by drinking their sorrows away.

They were focused on their goals and they made personal sacrifices.  Whether it was sacrificing sleep or leisure or self-pity, they didn’t let anything get in the way of accomplishment (and keep in mind, when I say accomplishment, I don’t just mean ambition.  I mean accomplishment in sharing the gospel, caring for others, raising strong families, and defeating evil forces).

Be a Leader Like That

So emulate the character qualities found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

In every area of life, even outside of politics, be a leader like that.

If God has gifted you to be a civic leader, then the people need you to be a person of high character.

Don’t just do it for yourself.  Do it for them, and do it for our true King – Christ Jesus.

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