By David Flowers, Leeds Vineyard
Although we mock and abuse our leaders and declare that we could do better, we know we need them. They carry the hopes and dreams of millions and are tasked with keeping us safe. We do not pay them well for this, nor grant them any security of employment – rather we suspect them of malignant motives and vote them out of a job at 24 hours’ notice. Our democratic method may be the best of poor alternatives but it can land us with oddly ill-equipped leaders.
Nevertheless, scripture enjoins us to pray for them (“let prayers and intercessions … be made for … kings and all those in authority”, 1 Timothy 2:1-2) and honour their position (“submit to the governing authorities”, Romans 13:1). And yet, and yet – do we not long for a noble leader, a warrior king in the likeness of Christ who can wield the sword of justice with restraint and wisdom?
Hear the words of wisdom in Proverbs 31:1-9:
The sayings of King Lemuel – an inspired utterance his mother taught him. “Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers! Do not spend your strength on women, your vigour on those who ruin kings. It is not for kings, Lemuel – it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights… Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Here is a biblical model for kingship and leadership. Not a gun, sword, bomb or battle in sight. No fighting and killing enjoined. Is it not striking that Wisdom’s instruction (which, incidentally, is no longer the father speaking to his son but the Queen, the mother, speaking to her son (the king to be) – a woman’s voice carries the words of Wisdom) has only two components, restraint and judgement?
Firstly, in verses two to five, she warns that lack of restraint will undermine leadership – whether that be in sexual behaviour or in chemical comforts. In a society where seeking after pleasure is not just tolerated but fashioned into a god and captured on Instagram this is a hard word for anyone, not least a leader.
Secondly, in verses eight and nine, she (Wisdom) outlines the leader’s job description: seeking justice. Being the defender, not just of the country, but of those who have no voice, who are destitute, the poor and needy. It brings tears to your eyes as you read.
The leader warrior described and redefined here pre-figures the most worthy One of all.
In Jesus Christ we have the One who really is the Master of the Universe, the General of Heavens’ armies – the One who is the King of Kings and yet who took on the ultimate upside-down Kingdom characteristic by becoming a servant leader.
Jesus stepped down from divine, cosmic nobility to walk among us and show us how to live – with restraint and as a pursuer of justice. This servant King demonstrates ultimate conquering power, by defeating the enemy as He died on the cross and then rose from the dead.
So in this time of war and tribulation and crises let us pray for our leaders. Let us pray for them to show restraint in their personal lives and to seek justice in their political lives. Let us pray for truly noble and brave decision-making. Let us pray for leaders to arise who worship the King, the King who is Worthy, and let us pray that when they step out in the likeness of Christ’s leadership, miraculous authority flows, words of wisdom are spoken and “justice rolls on like a river” (Amos 5:24).