by Frances Dobbs, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin [about the author]
I believe it is important to look to Scripture for values that our leaders should inhabit. The third chapter of Ephesians explores how Christ perfectly embodies leadership, making a clear example for worldly leaders.
When reading the story of salvation history, I believe we are reminded that God has a role in appointing leaders, but that leadership also comes with guidelines for how they act. Micah 6:8 states: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” [bold added]. These three values shape a biblical understanding of what a leader ought to be and are exemplified in Christ’s example.
Justice can be explained as proper relationship, both proper relationship between humanity and God, and also right relationship between humanity and one’s neighbors. When interacting with our neighbors, there is a consistent call to care for the poor, the stranger and the orphan. When God’s people fail in orienting their hearts to care for one another, the Lord rebukes them harshly. An example of this is Amos 2:6: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals”.
When defining loving kindness, one should focus on the right orientation of their heart. Hosea 6:6 says: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” This verse in my view demonstrates that though burnt offerings are to be accepted by God, the focus is that one must have a merciful heart in doing so. Likewise with our political leaders, there is a call to do just things with a clean heart.
Lastly, walking humbly with God is marked by a desire to be in communion with God. There is a reciprocal relationship present, that in loving God, God’s people can be guided to act justly, and in loving the oppressed and vulnerable in our society, our behavior is pleasing to God. “May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service. For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper,” reads Psalm 72: 11-12. In other words, leaders of the world ought to walk humbly with God as God is the deliverer of justice to the poor and needy.
Again, it is Christ that exemplifies this image. Through Jesus’ presence on earth, leaders are given an example of which to follow. Their authority carries significance, but it is in justice, kindness, humility and the preference of the poor that they will be worthy worldly leaders.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frances Dobbs (she/her) is the Hunger Advocacy Fellow placed with the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin. She is a recent graduate from Marquette University with a B.A. in Political Science, a B.A. of International Affairs, and a minor in Theology. She is a Melkite Catholic which is an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. She lives in Milwaukee and commutes to Madison for work. She has engaged in a variety of volunteer opportunities including receiving her Girl Scout Gold Award in which she started a library for Amahoro Children’s School in Musanze, Rwanda.