How to Impact Leaders in Tough Times

Play episode

A few days ago, I put up a Facebook post, because in Melbourne we had some new COVID – related rules to follow from the Government.

In particular, there was a change on the requirement to wear masks indoors that had come into effect overnight and I wanted to make sure my friends were aware of the new requirements before they sent their kids to school.

So I shared the official post, and within a few minutes there were a couple of comments on my post that were basically criticizing the leaders who had made the decisions.

Watch this message: (the story continues below)

Now, I know from their other posts and comments on Facebook that these particular people who commented think that the requirement for masks is a dramatic overreaction by our government.

I’m guessing you can imagine the sort of posts and comments that are doing the rounds today, now that Melbourne has a 5 day lock down ahead.

What I want to talk about today is not about the government, and it’s not about coronavirus or how various governments around the world are managing outbreaks.

What I want to talk about today is the kingdom concept of honor, and how the bible says that we – as the people of God – are to interact with the ruling authorities of our world – whether they’re elected leaders, government officials, police officers, or people in positions of authority over us as individuals such as our bosses at work, teachers at school or pastors and leaders at church.

Let’s start with the first two verses of Romans Chapter 13 which say “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.”

As believers it’s really important that we understand that there are no ruling authorities in place except those who are positioned there by God and the requirement to submit to those authorities applies to ‘everyone’ – not just to some people.

The reason for this submission, according to verse 5 of the same chapter is to not only to avoid punishment but also to keep a clear conscience” whereas verse 7 tells us to also give those in authority respect and honor.

And it’s not just the leaders themselves that we need to submit to, but also the delegated leaders who serve and are sent by the king – that’s from first Peter 2:13-14.

By choosing to honor our leaders we’re actually choosing to recognize and respect the authority of God that they carry rather than the person themselves.

Ephesians chapter 6, verses 5 to 8 instruct servants to respectfully obey their earthly masters, but always with an eye to obeying their real master – Christ.

Now the instant reaction of most people is to go oh, hang on – What about bad leaders? What about dictators? What about leaders who murder their people? And what about tyrants? What about Hitler?

Should we still have to honor those sort of leaders?

There’s actually a fantastic case study on this included in the bible – because in 1 Peter 2:17, we have Peter telling the believers to ‘fear God and honor the King’ but this instruction is given in the context of a time where King Herod Agrippa the first, who came to power in AD37 (which is AFTER the resurrection) – is being particularly harsh towards the believers because it served his political purposes.

Acts Chapter 12 verse 2 tells us that King Herod Agrippa had the apostle James (who was John’s brother) killed with a sword.

He then seizes Peter, and pretty much everyone would have expected that Peter was going to be killed too.

In fact, the bible tells us that Herod was planning to hold Peter over the Passover and then bring him out for a public trial. That’s in verse 4 for those who are following along.

So here’s a leader who is killing people, he’s grabbed Peter, he’s planning to turn his death into a public spectacle to win favour with the people.

And what does the church do?

Do they protest?

Do they begin a social disobedience campaign?

Do they hatch a plan to bust Peter out of jail?

Remember these are desperate times, and Peter is the leader of the church.

What did the church do?

They prayed earnestly for Peter, that’s what Acts 12 verse 5 tells us. And what comes next is a miraculous escape from prison, orchestrated by an Angel of the Lord.

At dawn the next morning it was discovered that Peter was missing – King Herod Agrippa, the lovely bloke that he was, ordered a thorough search, and when Peter still didn’t turn up – he sentenced the four squads of four guards who had been guarding Peter to death.

If you are wondering what happened to Herod Agrippa the First and whether he ever received judgement for his bad leadership – you’re in luck, because verses 20-23 of Acts chapter 12 tell us what happened to him.

Let’s read verse 23 – Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.”

Now I want you to notice that the judgement of this tyrant leader came – but it wasn’t orchestrated by people – and that’s because GOD is the one who is responsible for bringing judgement on those in authority.

Even if the constitutional rights of your home country, or the rules of the social media platform that you are using allow you to exercise free speech and say and share whatever you want – we still need to remember that once we’ve accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior – we answer to a higher power, and a higher system of law than all of the the worldly systems of Government combined.

When Romans 13 tells us to give respect and honor to all whom it is due, then that is what we should endeavor to do.

If we do choose to dishonor the people in authority over us these passages make it quite clear that we are actually dishonoring God, because no person is placed in a position of authority except with God’s blessing.

And if you think that laughing at memes on social media is just harmless fun – there are two separate places in the bible that instruct us to ‘not speak evil of the ruler of your people’.

That means we should avoid liking, sharing, or even laughing at and finding things funny if it directly criticizes or directly mocks governmental leaders, not only because those people have been put in place by God, but because by showing dishonor to our leaders we are also showing dishonor to God.

That’s really, really dangerous territory to be in.

So I encourage you, if you see anything on social media that makes fun of, mocks or criticizes those in authority or leadership – don’t share it.

If it’s a video, don’t even watch it.

You might think that you’re not hurting anyone – but even our inward laughter can be a problem – if you remember both Abraham and Sarah laughed silently to themselves and it was definitely noticed.

If you see another brother or sister in Christ sharing that sort of material then feel free to share this video with them privately – because they might not realize what the bible actually says about this topic.

The problem with how we humans usually respond to leadership decisions we don’t like is that we complain about them on social media, and we encourage others to join with us and complain about things on social media.

But the bible tells us we will effect change at the top level not from criticizing or complaining, but from praying earnestly for those in authority.

Just as the disciples prayed for Peter when he was jailed by King Herod Agrippa the First, we have an opportunity to make an impact through humility, obedience and prayer.

First Timothy chapter 2 verses 1 and 2 says

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.”

1 Timothy 2:1-2

So let’s make that our priority.

And when you see a suspect meme, instead of laughing, liking and sharing – take a minute or two out of your day to pray for that leader instead.

Until next time, blue skies!

More from this show