Preparing Christian Statesmen
© 09.20.11 By D. Eric Williams
This article appeared in the September 22 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle (article #7 in the series)
Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank (Proverbs 22:29).
Our discussion concerning a call to civil service and the training of Christian statesman rests upon the assumption that civil magistrates are servants of God and required to work as unto the Lord. (I won't rehash the subject here; to revisit past articles on the topic, go to the Newspaper Article link at dewms.com.) But how does one know if they are called to serve the Lord as a civil leader?
Daniel is a notable example of a Believer called to a political career (Daniel 1:21). Granted, he entered the servcie of King Nebuchadnezzar involuntarily but it is clear God had made him for that purpose and called him to that particular task. In the example of Daniel we see that effective civil service requires certain talents, interests and abilities as well as an undeniable call. Daniel's example reminds us that business experience is not necessarily good preparation for a political career. It may be part of the mix, but a person is suited for civil service based on aptitude and specialized training not experience as a CEO.
As with any vocation (from the Latin word voco, "to call") the call to civil service is individually determined and corporately confirmed. In other words, you should not pursue a career in civil government unless you believe God has called you to it and your circle of influence agrees. This doesn't mean everyone you know must concur but if your family and friends say you would make a better plumber than politician, you should probably listen. The fact is, when God calls you to a work he typically confirms that call through the witness of others and by opening the right doors.
A primary confirmation of a call to politics would be the proper personality. Keep in mind, I'm talking about a Christian statesman rather than what the world considers an effective politician. Therefore, the primary character quality of the Christian civil magistrate is selflessness. No one should go into politics unless they put Christ first and others second leaving the third position for themselves. Moreover, a person should have an interest and aptitude in four basic disciplines.
A Christian statesman must have a handle on theology, history, law and economics to properly serve the Lord and his constituency. Unless he is willing to develop a rigorous regimen of study in these four disciplines he should not consider a political career. Yet, it does not mean you are required to attend college and pursue a double major in history and economics with a minor in constitutional law, followed by a stint at seminary pursuing a Masters degree in theology. The fact is, anyone who wants to become an expert in these fields need only establish a regular reading schedule (see dewms.com for a sample reading list).
More important than a specific college degree is the study of state and local history and law. When we speak of politics we tend to think of the national scene but the truth is, this nation will be turned around one county and state at a time. This is where Christians should focus much of their effort. Therefore, part of the training for Christian statesmen includes the study and mastery of local history and politics. The politician in training should be well versed in his state Constitution and the organization of civil government at the city, county and state level. It is more important to understand what gives rise to local and state law then current law itself. The knowledge of actual statutes will be required of the Christian statesman upon entry into the field but in the initial training it is political theory that must be understood.
More on this subject next week.