Training Godly Rulers

God's covenantal order of creation: Jesus serves as head of His Church, the husband serves as head of his family, the civil magistrate administers justice and protects the citizenry by means of a civil government. Herein lies the mystery of mortal man called and ordained by God to work at His side exercising the rule and reign of His Kingdom on Earth.

Man's chaotic order of destruction: The so-called "church" gathers for service and attention from God, the family is thought of as antiquated and archaic, the civil magistrate harbors and protects law-breakers thus victimizing innocent law-keepers. Herein lies the logical conclusion of mere mortal man who rebels against the call of God and, thus, becomes a prisoner of the very system he created.

The United States currently faces a condition of bankruptcy in the resource of statesmen. This bankruptcy can be partly attributed to the compartmentalization and segregation of the various social orders that comprise our country. Our founding fathers were great leaders because they were leaders in every sphere of influence: politics, church, education, science, etc.... The cry for separation of church and state has paved the way toward the effective neutralization of any potential leadership coming forth from the traditional institutions of our country (church and family). The church in America is impotent to produce such a leader; it is politically asleep or, at best, on another channel. The American family is under assault from literally every front available. Feminism has neutralized the father to the status of a blundering idiot while enabling the wife who has "no choice" but to step up to the plate and compensate for his inadequacies as a provider and ruler. Environmentalists are demanding zero population growth to conserve the alarming deterioration of the Earth's resources and to ease overcrowding on the planet. What children happen to survive the abortion mill of our country are ultimately sacrificed on the alter of the state church (public schools); whether it be at the lower levels of propaganda (education) or at state, private, or "Christian" supported higher propaganda. The American academia is dying from anemia, focusing on political/social correctness in the classroom rather than Godly and educational disciplines. Not one God ordained institution is doing anything to equip and train today's young people to be exceptional leaders in BOTH the church and civil government of tomorrow. The whole thing is enigmatic. If you thought the 1960's were bad, take a close look at our circumstances today. It is of no wonder that the majority of voters this November will stare blankly at their ballot.

Hopeless? Emphatically not!!! "...but with God all things are possible" (Matt 19:26) is not just a vain desperate cry. But read it very carefully, starting about verse 21. It doesn't say "with God's help all things are possible" or "if you bring God along..." No, it says "with God", i.e. being a part of what God is doing, doing it God's way according to His perfect counsel. When we conform to His will, His ways, and His plans, then all things truly are possible, even in spite of us.

Art of Statesmanship

Statecraft is defined as, "The art of leading a country."1 But the definition need not be limited to such a broad application as leading the civil government of a country. Likewise, it is not proper to limit the definition of government to such a broad sense that only applies to civil government. Government is no more than the application of rules to some social order. Social orders come in many forms: family, church, civil, vocational, school, and individual. Therefore, statecraft is necessary to successfully lead a local civil government as well as to lead an ecclesiastical government, a local familial government, and to be successfully self-governed.

Government is inevitable. The question is, "Whose governmental system does one advocate and procreate?" The choices are really only two: God's or man's. People choose to be either receptively constructive by submitting to God's form of social order or to be creatively destructive by trying to "make it up" as they go. The very nature of government dictates that there can never be a partial compromise without total compromise. The humanistic cry of today for tolerance in all social orders is really a demand for surrender. Tolerance can never tolerate absolutes of truth and justice. Tolerance demands tolerance and becomes intolerant toward intolerance. In other words tolerance is a standard of rule in of itself and demands conformity by those who impose it as an ideal social order. Democracy and tyranny can never coexist within a single society. Capitalism and Communism can never coexist within a single society. God's ordained kingdom government can never, and will never, coexist within humanism's system of government. One or the other must surrender, unconditionally.

The tension of conflicting standards of rulership is within each of us as we encounter and work within various spheres of governments and the expectations of their standards. The work place is one of the more common social orders most of us will experience. The government of a particular work place will be dictated by the rules of a sole proprietor, an employee manual, and/or other "bosses" designated to manage the affairs of the business. Simultaneously, we are confronted by the governments of our kid's little league team, the homeschool support group, the chess club, the 4H club, and yes, even our church.

One thing every government led by fallen man will have in common is a demand to compromise God's standard of rule and submit to man's form of rulership. How we respond to various and often conflicting systems of governmental rule will depend on who truly owns our citizenship; to whom we are ultimately loyal. Accordingly, our calling as Christians, as citizens of the Kingdom of God, is to bring the rule and reign of Jesus Christ into every sphere of government we encounter.

A true statesman demonstrates integrity and Godly wisdom in ALL of the social orders mentioned above. Therefore, Christians must become ethically self-conscious, that is, consistently applying Godly convictions as found in God's word across every institutional sphere of social order they encounter. Accordingly, there must be training of judges and attorneys who know how to apply God's law-word to civil and criminal cases, accountants who value honesty in the business world, doctors who have a biblical view towards human life, politicians who take seriously their calling of God to be ministers of justice and service to the people, ministers who will defend the pure gospel of Jesus Christ with their life, employers who provide services and products with integrity, and employees who are diligent to give an honest days service for an honest days wage.

It was on the individual level that Satan challenged the rulership of God and offered Eve a different system of rule. It was on the individual level that Satan offered Jesus a different system of rule. That same challenge remains today for each of us and our children. The challenge of whose system of government we are going to employ for ourselves toward the ethical decisions we face every day. Again, there are no compromises available and no dual citizenship allowed. "Choose you this day whom you are going to serve" remains to be the charge before us today.

The virtues necessary for a Godly statesman are best enumerated by Paul in 1 Timothy and Titus where he lists the character qualifications of an Elder and Deacon in the Church. The text lays the foundation for apprenticeship in Statecraft. Within the text we can formulate the scope and sequence of Statesmanship.

Ecclesiastical Statesmanship

Godly virtues of a church leader are necessary qualities if he is to rule biblically, Godly, and effectively. His job is to judge the facts presented to him and to make a righteous judgement (John 7:24). The facts may be a dispute between members of a church, an alleged misconduct of a member, or simply seeking a direction of leadership for part or all of the church. Whatever the facts pertain to, certain qualities of the ruler must be present if he is to 1) come to a biblically sound judgement of the facts, and 2) have the respect and confidence of those he is leading. Because they know him, they know his character, they know he judges righteously, then they accept his leadership having little or no knowledge of the facts themselves.

Lacking these Biblical qualities, the ruler finds that those under his leadership are reluctant to accept his judgements. He is questioned, second guessed, continually explaining and justifying his decisions. Not that he should not be willing to do so when asked, but if he perceives his leadership to be weak or in jeopardy he may resort to what Peter warns against, "...nor as being lords over those entrusted to you...." (1 Peter 5:3). Rather, he is to be an example of biblical rulership to the flock (vs. 4).

What is it the Godly ruler is to exemplify to the flock? How does he learn the things that enable him to be a Godly example? The answer to these questions are within Paul's list of qualities for eldership found at 1 Timothy 3. First, he is not to be a novice of the faith, lest he become prideful (vs 6). Second, he is to be "...one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)" (Vs 4,5). The parenthetical extension of Paul's logic in these two virtues points us to the training and proving ground of church leaders: The family.

Familial Statesmanship

It is within the context of the family that we are known for whom we truly are. All the games are over, all the facades are broken down, we are seen at our very worst. I personally believe that this is one reason why we see so many break ups and divorces around the time of five years of marriage and two children. Time and children force our true character to the surface.

The overwhelming significance of God's covenantal order of creation begins to unfold before us as we become ethically self-conscious that Paul equates (and I mean exactly equates) the standard by which Jesus rules in service to His Church with that of the husband's duty to rule in service to his family (Ephesians 5:25-33). To say it another way, I submit to you that Paul goes so far as to say that the exact same standard of rulership established by the Son of God, the Word become flesh, who was before the foundations of the earth, over His Church is the same standard of rulership for me, mere mortal man, who just arrived on the scene yesterday, for my family. Notice there are no contingencies relating to my fleshly weaknesses, no auxiliary verb escape clauses, only exactness: "...let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself...." I trust you are beginning to grasp the magnitude of our difficulty.

More important than the difficulty before us, though, is to quickly affirm that as God so establishes the standard of rule for husbands over their households, He certainly ordains the means by which they are able to successfully fulfill their calling. Unfortunately, too many husbands choose to be ethically unconscious (i.e. one whose actions and decisions are inconsistent with his professed beliefs) and default to grace: "I can't live up to the standard. I'm only sinful man and the wife and kids know that better than anyone. I can't rule my family; no one will listen to me"2 While it is true that God's grace does cover our shortcomings and failings, it is not a valid appeal for apathy, laziness, indecisiveness, selfishness, self-indulgence; for abdicating God's ordained calling to rule.

The real tragedy of the ethically unconscious father is that he unconsciously apprentices his children in the art of ethical unconsciousness. Nothing is neutral; everything has consequences, especially ethical unconsciousness. Alternatively, husbands and fathers are to recognize that God's grace provides them the virtues, by way of the Holy Spirit, necessary to fulfill their calling of God. Then they are to be faithful in their responsibility to apprentice their children in those virtues; biblical virtues that will equip them with the skill and vision necessary to become leaders of men.

It is within the context of the family that the husband/father is forced to make a decision. He does make a decision. He may continue in youthful irresponsibility thus forcing his wife to compensate with dominating tyranny over him and his family OR he may submit to God's ordained calling to rule his family and do so according to biblical standards. Be assured though, he will submit to one or the other.

Provided he chooses the latter, it easily follows that if the husband is to qualify as an elder in the church by virtue of the qualities expressed by Paul to Timothy and Titus, then those same qualities are the ones necessary for the husband to develop and have as he leads his home. The home is the training and testing ground for the husband and his children as statesmen of the future.

The family is not only the first environment of the child, it is also his first school, where he receives his basic education; his first church, where he is taught his first and foundational lessons concerning God and life; his first state, where he learns the elements of law and order and obeys them; his first vocation, where the child is given work to do, and responsibilities in terms of it.3

By learning to be blameless before God and his family, he understands the significance of confession and forgiveness and learns to apply God's law-word judiciously to the situations of his family. Hospitality teaches him respect and service to other family governments and provides the means of building lifelong alliances with like-minded families. As head of the Department of Education, he learns the importance of being a good student of God's word as well as the importance of having the skills to articulate and transfer biblical knowledge to his family. He learns to be reverent as he leads his family in times of worship and devotion. As head of the Department of Interior, he learns the importance of property rights, good stewardship and how to love his wife (you know, that omnipresent honey-do list?).

By bringing the Bible to bear on social issues that surround his family, he learns to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and to "..bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ..." (2 Cor 10:5). As the father learns to apply these virtues and the others enumerated by Paul, his children will be trained in the application of God's word to real life rulership situations. As future husband/father rulers of their own families, sons will be trained to take authority in areas such as sexual purity and modesty before they marry and leave the home. By learning that they are responsible for the purity and modesty of themselves (boy among boy talk), their sisters (outside predators), and other girls they might have occasion to associate with, they learn skills of moral excellence and discernment of lustful behavior (men's eyes) and attitudes (women's desire to be lusted after) that will prove to be, in this age of AIDS, literal lifesavers for their own family and children while providing valuable leadership to others.

Issues of ownership, stewardship, hunger, and welfare become real for the children when the father is serious enough about such things as to be a part of and fiscally fund the valid ministry of a church who takes these issues head-on. The father leads his family in participating in such ministries. While there, they all learn what works and what doesn't work; what are God's truth and what are man's feeble attempts. This aspect of child rearing cannot be over emphasized or ignored.

It is at the family level that our children are taught how to handle disputes, how to respond to and respect authority, a sense of ownership and a duty of stewardship. The training they receive will go with them into every institution and sphere of influence they encounter for the rest of their life.

Yet, all the practical life examples and lessons will mean nothing if the experience of all that is said, done, and seen doesn't transfer to the heart of the husband/father and his family. For you see, "...out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." (Matt 15:19). A regenerate heart is where it all begins. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit brings us to the heart of the matter.

Self-governing Statesmanship

Self-government is where it all begins; the problems and the solutions. The fundamental kind of human government is self-government. No institutional government has the financial resources to police its members to insure compliance. Thus, one goal of preaching God's word should be to increase the self-governing abilities of every member of society.  To extend Paul's logic i.e., "for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God", it follows then that if one cannot rule his own self, how can he take care of his family? Accordingly, family, church, and state are rendered ineffective by unruly members.

It is at this point that the ethically unconscious husband surfaces for all to see. Ethical unconsciousness inevitably leads to double standards and double-mindedness. "Do as I say, not as I do" is the ancient cry of the ethically unconscious. It is the epitome of Phariseeism that Jesus so emphatically rebuked. Phariseeism that had so maligned God's law-standard of rulership for their own benefit, yet even they were unwilling and even unable to submit to their own established religious rules. Ethical unconsciousness is hypocrisy personified.

Rather, we are to follow Paul's admonition, "And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath [by your hypocrisy, for one], but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph 6:4). What are the biblical virtues we are to apply to self-governing rulership? Hopefully, it is obvious by now: "...blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, ... not a novice, ... reverent..." (1 Timothy 3:2-6), respected by those outside the church, a Godly example.

Herein lie the disciplines of a Godly ruler, virtues that are a good thing to aspire to (1 Timothy 3:1), virtues that equip the man of God to be an effective and respected ruler in every sphere of government and social order. They do not become a part of us naturally or easily, only as we submit to and cooperate with the sanctifying process of the Holy Spirit. We are not only to encourage our children to aspire to these virtues, but we are to vigilantly train them accordingly.

Apprenticing in Statecraft

Of all the qualities of a Godly ruler expressed by Paul to Timothy and Titus, there seems to be one above the rest that is drastically deficient in every governmental sphere of our society discussed thus far: Blamelessness. Accusations, blame, and guilt have riddled the political scenes, judicial systems, churches, and educational institutions to such an overwhelming degree over the past 30 years or so that the public have become much more than desensitized to it, they actually expect such goings on to be normal, everyday life; just a part of the system.

The result of this is that we have before us today plenty of examples of what it means NOT to be blameless. We are able to see how accusations proliferate in an environment of denial and cover-up. As weary and tiresome as these events may be, it is our duty to turn them into real life teaching opportunities. That is what apprenticing is all about; real life application towards a goal of proficiency in a particular discipline.

Therefore, if fathers are to have a vision for the future, one that their children can incorporate and have as their own, they must make a conscious decision today to begin the training process. For many of us, that means training ourselves also. Whatever the case, the work must begin and begin now.

As in every educational process, there is to be a systematic approach, a recognized scope and sequence, and a desired finished product. The sequence of apprenticing in statecraft is simple. It starts with the individual and self-government. The task of today's parent is to exemplify and train their children to be self-governed according to God's law-word. To train them to be faithful, self-controlled, honest, and truthful even when no one else is looking, when no one else would ever know what they did or said while alone.

A well self-governed individual is then prepared for entry-level family rulership. There continues to be much to learn, much maturing, much proving at this level. The husband/father who is diligent and faithful to his calling as a family ruler will automatically set himself apart as a candidate for eldership in the Church.

Once recognized and affirmed by the local body, there still remains much to learn, much maturing to happen, and much proving to take place. The faithful and diligent elder will see the scope of his influence increase as he leads other men in the disciplines of self and familial rulership. Serving and working with his family and in a local church that is socially active and relevant, the respect of those outside of the church for him and his family will be evident; he will be a Godly example.

The sequence leading to a Godly civil statesman is now obvious. Having faithfully apprenticed and served in the spheres of self rule, familial rule, and church rule, the Godly statesman is prepared to judge righteously at the city gates. He is equipped to bring the wisdom of God to bear on the issues of his community and his nation. He is well respected; known to be blameless, sober minded, not greedy or covetous, not quarrelsome, but temperate and able to teach others. He is recognized as a Godly example.

In a recent issue of World magazine, Joel Belz wrote, "You can't suddenly develop expertise in providing Christian insight and leadership for 260,000,000 people, through all the complexities of public policy, if you haven't first honed your Christian insights and leadership on lesser levels and in smaller contexts. We [Christians] don't have anybody ready to play in the major leagues simply because we haven't been faithful at building a good system of farm teams."

The travesty within the God ordained institutions of our nation (family, church, and state) is that the past few generations of Christians have failed to apprentice the succeeding generations according to God's sequence of training: self rule, familial rule, ecclesiastical rule, civil rule. The lack of training and leadership on the individual level bears the fruit of crisis within the institutional family. We should not be surprised by the crisis on the church and civil government levels.

CONCLUSION

In 1763, a young aspiring lawyer argued a case before the court on behalf of the colonies. The Parsons case was a significant turn of events for a young nation-to-be and the part that the young aspiring lawyer, Patrick Henry, would play in those events. It is of no little significance as to who sat on the bench of that case; who the civil justice was that determined what evidence could and could not be presented to the jury; what matters of law were and were not to be applied to the case. The judge was Colonel John Henry, Patrick's father.

Not since the 1960's has our nation witnessed the influence that one particular family can have on the course of a whole nation. Be assured that what many of us witnessed in the 1960's didn't come about over night. It took a father with a vision for the future who faithfully and diligently worked toward a goal and worked at it for decades. The time is now for Godly fathers and husbands to have a vision for the future that would place them in such spheres of influence as to pave the way for the success and influence of their children and grandchildren.

It is up to us as parents to tear down the walls built around us over the past generations which have not only narrowed the scope of influence by a Godly father, but have actually extinguished his influence to nothingness. Those walls are to be demolished and the fire of a Godly father kindled anew in the hearts of fathers and their children. The kind of fire that spreads into the full arena of leadership spheres. The kind of fire that inspire children to exemplify the boldness and confidence of an influential father. The kind of fire that the children can see will make an impact on people and the world around them. The kind of fire that ignites within the children a vision of excellence, of building upon the Godly heritage of their parents and grandparents, of faith in God, and assurance of their calling. Faith that leads to ethically self-conscious decisions of training and vocation with an eye for bringing the Bible to bear on every facet of life and society.

Francis Shaeffer wrote 20 years ago, "In such circumstances [of deterioration in our national social order], it seems that there are only two alternatives in the natural flow of events: first, imposed order [of tyranny] or, second, our society once again affirming that base which gave freedom without chaos in the first place - God's revelation in the Bible and His revelation through Christ."6

The line has been drawn in the sand: "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,..."

 

Fortifying
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Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas
PHurdWford@AOL.com

EST. 01/01/01