Children sometimes like to play the game “follow the leader,” in which one person is the leader, and the others imitate that leader’s behavior, speech, etc. Even as adults, we often use the phrase “follow the leader” to denote our emulation of some leader’s behavior, actions, and so on. As our country prepares to elect its next leader, this topic of leadership is especially important to consider. Let us notice a few points of interest in this regard.
A nation’s leader greatly influences the behavior of its people. If this fact is in doubt at all, one needs to look no further than the book of 2 Chronicles to prove it. When thinking just of the southern nation of Judah, the vast influence that the leaders had on the nation during their respective reigns is obvious. During the reign of King Asa, the king “put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD” (2 Chr. 15:8) and, at least in part because of this, the people determined to follow Jehovah also. 2 Chronicles 15:12 records of the people of Judah and Benjamin (as well as some from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon), “They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul.” Asa greatly influenced the nation for righteousness, and the people followed his lead. Also, read of the great influence kings Hezekiah (2 Chr. 29-32) and Josiah (2 Chr. 34-35) had on Judah when they were kings. On the other hand, when looking at Manasseh, one can see the “flip side of the coin.” Manasseh was wicked for the greater part of his reign, and the Bible says, “So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen” (2 Chr. 33:9). Now, we know that Manasseh did not make the people to err, but through his leadership, the people were greatly encouraged to that end. There can be no doubt, a nation’s leader or leaders will greatly influence the behavior of that nation’s people.
A nation’s leader should not always be followed. Going back to the example of Manasseh, this is clearly evident. The Bible says that “the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken” (2 Chr. 33:10). During the days of Zedekiah, God sent Jeremiah and other prophets to try to convince the people not to follow the wicked leadership of Zedekiah, yet they would not listen—“And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chr. 36:15-16). The apostles in the first century stated, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) and, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). Certainly, there are times when we ought not, yea, we must not “follow the leader.”
All leadership is from God. Hear God as He says to Israel, “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath” (Hos. 13:11, emp. added). The king of Israel did not come from the people, but from God. God, through Daniel, told Nebuchadnezzar, “The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” (Dan. 4:25). Jesus Himself told Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (Jn. 19:11). Paul wrote to the Romans, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). There can be no doubt, all power to lead any group of people ultimately comes from God, and all rulers everywhere would do well to recognize this fact.
“Follow the leader”? That depends on the leader, and where he is leading. There was once a tombstone that had engraved on it, “My dear friends, as you pass by…as you are now, so once was I. As I am now, you soon must be…prepare yourselves to follow me.” A thoughtful passerby later brought a plaque carved with this reply, “To follow you I’m not content, until I know which way you went!” If a leader is leading down the path of right, then let us follow him, for he is following the one true Leader, Jehovah. As Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). But, if a leader is leading us down the path of rebellion against God and what is right, may we all be bold enough and intelligent enough to refuse to follow such a one, realizing the eternally damnable consequences of doing so. As we near the time to elect our nation’s next leader, let us carefully ponder these thoughts.
[Article written by Chad Dollahite, taken from Bremen Church of Christ (Bremen, GA) bulletin]