As the election of the US president approaches, polls show that many Americans say they want change and fresh ideas. Whatever opinion one may hold about what is most important, most of us would say that effective leadership is essential. Is it possible to pray for good leadership? Yes, but it means putting aside opinions about issues and candidates long enough to gain a spiritual sense of leadership that goes beyond personal style.
The Bible promises that God will lead each of us. The book of Isaiah says, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young" (40:11). This passage indicates that God is gently caring for all the needs of His children – all of humanity. Prayer for new and sometimes unformed hopes and ideas, and their fulfillment through just and stable leadership, means knowing that God is caring for those ideas.
God's guidance is indispensable for making thoughtful decisions about candidates and issues. Praying for guidance involves holding in thought a concept of leadership that includes the God-given sense of honesty, impartiality, and vision, and living these qualities to the best of our ability. Living these qualities uplifts motives and can correct mistaken social, gender, and racial attitudes that might be held by voters and candidates.
The Bible has examples of good leadership. Moses wasn't elected but was chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. If Moses had run for office, he probably wouldn't have been elected; public speaking wasn't his strong suit. Besides, he didn't want the job. But he was the right one for it. The Bible says, "The man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3).
Why is meekness so important? Moses' leadership came to light through his meekness – his God-given humility, willingness, and courage. Meekness enabled him to follow something higher than a personal agenda. His leadership came from listening to and then striving to follow God's plan, seeking the best for all in a purpose to serve God. This kind of leadership is possible because God's creation – each of us – is the image and likeness of God. Moses' reliance on God's guidance enabled him to supply food and clothing to the Israelites and give them laws that stabilized their lives. Their national character, their concept of worship, work, and service, changed as they followed the ideal that came through God-inspired leadership.
Active prayer is striving to see in others – even political candidates whose positions we don't agree with – the goodness of God, which includes meekness. We can pray to know that meekness and the spiritual power that go with it are natural to elected office.
A prophecy recorded in the book of Isaiah speaks of a kingdom – a mental state – led by a child, where all creation dwells in harmony. It foretells the rule of the Christ, the spiritual selfhood of each of us, that Jesus expressed in confidence, peace, and, of course, meekness. As we pray that Christ will guide the candidates' decisions about taxes, foreign policy, the environment, and the economy, we can also claim this guidance for ourselves as we think about these issues and how to discern our choices for the best leadership for this time.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, prayed that God's presence would guide all humanity, including those in positions of leadership. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote, "As the children of Israel were guided triumphantly through the Red Sea,… as they were led through the wilderness, walking wearily through the great desert of human hopes, and anticipating the promised joy, – so shall the spiritual idea guide all right desires in their passage from sense to Soul, from a material sense of existence to the spiritual, up to the glory prepared for them who love God" (p. 566).
Turning to God for daily decisions and plans opens the way for the Christ to guide our desire for leadership to a more spiritual basis and therefore help us be more impartial and balanced in human affairs.