The book of Exodus reveals to us the beginning stages of the nation of Israel. Until they entered Egypt, they were basically a single family unit. After years in slavery, their numbers had grown to what some people estimate to be over 1 million Israelites that left Egypt for Canaan. Moses was the leader of this group of people and began to reach a point of being overwhelmed. His father-in-law recognizes the struggle that Moses is having and offers him some advice on how to add other leaders to share the burden for this new nation. Initially they would probably be called judges, but they were there to make decisions and settle disputes. The advice that Jethro offered to Moses included some qualifications for the people that he was to choose. In Exodus 18:21 it is recorded But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. There are four specific requirements for these leaders: capable, honest, God-fearing, and hating bribes. Each of these qualifications seem basic to any leadership position that we may need to fill. Let’s take a look at how we may be able to apply these to your own life.
For any leadership position, skills are important. It is very difficult to have influence in situations you know nothing about. It is clear that we should be concerned about the qualifications of leaders, especially leaders of a nation. They must have skills to deal with the complex and difficult issues that arise. These skills may not always be gained in the same fashion. Often we have looked for people with certain military or political experience. Both of these can be beneficial, but may not be necessary. However, it is critical that they have developed certain skills for the job or position they are seeking.
There are many stereotypical jokes about political leaders that could be made here. It is unfortunate that politicians are often viewed as dishonest. Some of this is because they cannot always provide what they said they would provide due to their lack of consideration of the actual reach and scope of their power. Other times it is because their lives are so public that if they decide to change their position on an issue (as all of us do from time to time), it is viewed as a lack of integrity rather than a better understanding of a subject. Then unfortunately, there are other times when they are just truly dishonest. In any case, honesty and integrity should be critical components of the people we choose to lead us. You do not have to agree on issues to have integrity. But to lead effectively and for the benefit of the people, you must have strong character.
Depending on your stance where faith or Christianity is concerned, this may or may not be on your list. It is important to me. God-fearing does not always mean that someone believes like I believe, but it does mean that they have an understanding of life and a purpose that is bigger than themselves. It is clear in the Bible that God was able to use men that did not recognize him, at least in the beginning. Cyrus, Artaxerxes and even Herod were men that God used to accomplish his work even though they never believed or feared Him. However, I do believe the greatest good is accomplished when men fear God and work to accomplish the greater good.
Our country has laws that govern the exchange of bribes for favors. It has never stopped them from exchanging hands and truthfully, many leaders find other ways to exchange favors or decisions without the direct exchange of money. Hating a bribe does not just mean that you will not take money for a specific vote. I believe the hating of bribes indicates you feel so strongly about doing what is right and best that there is no amount of favor or exchange, ever how they may appear, that would deter you from doing what needs to be done. This can often be difficult. I am convinced however, that if our leaders would do what was best and right, regardless of the cost to them personally, our country would be better for it. Leadership is about sacrifice.
It is possible you have some things that you would add to this list. It is clear that Israel started out with leaders that held these as important. As you consider over the next weeks and months who you will choose to lead our nation, take these qualifications into account and see how your candidate measures up.