The Leadership Crisis In America, Part 1

Adrian Rogers’ Voters Guide for the Christian Citizen

We are in a crisis in America, a moral crisis. But the crisis is also one of leadership. And perhaps it goes without saying, though we’ve said it often: a nation gets the kind of leadership it deserves. May I say clearly and plainly, leadership is crucial.

There’s an old saying, not a Bible proverb, but a wonderful one, that says, “If the gold rust, what shall the iron do?”

If our leadership, those at the helm, are not right, what’s going to happen to the rest of us?

In our study this month (and next), we’re going to look at what the Bible says about national leadership.

1. Begin by turning to in Proverbs 29:2, filling in some key words.

When the _________________ are in ______________, the people ___________, but when the ____________ beareth rule, the people ___________.

Not too many months hence, we will go to the polls and vote in a new president.

2. I hope you vote. If you don’t vote, I believe you have disobeyed your Lord.

Turn to Mark 12:17

And Jesus answering said unto them, “___________ to ___________ the things that are ____________'s, and to God the things that are ______'s. And they marvelled at Him.”


Our “Caesar” is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The very genius of our government is that the people participate. It was none other than Jesus, therefore, who teaches us to participate in government.
It’s unthinkable that God Almighty would have ordained government and then told His people to stay out of it. Then who would that leave to influence and to lead? And so, friend, Jesus said, “We are to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. We’re to render to God the things that are God’s.”

In this two-part study, we’re going to look at four basic principles God wants us to understand:

  • the character God requires in leadership
  • the choice God respects
  • the consequences God reveals
  • the control God reserves
    For our study today, we will only cover the first point: the character God requires. We must have that foundation in place first.

Something frightening is happening in America today. Some are saying, “Character makes no difference; it’s ability that counts.” Now friend, it’s absolutely, totally foolish to say character makes no difference in national leadership.

Here’s the illustration they use: “What difference does it make if the character of the airplane pilot is bad, so long as he knows how to fly the plane?”

When you say, “Character is not important,” think about it.

  • You’re saying God isn’t that important in our leadership, only ability is important. You see, it is God who blesses good character and the leader who has character. To God it’s important that a leader have more than just ability. They must have character. If character isn’t important, you’re really saying God is not important because righteousness is not important.
  • You’re also saying, “God, we can handle this by ourselves, since skill is all we need.” To say skill is important but character is not, is like saying a skilled surgeon doesn’t need to scrub before he performs surgery. No matter how skilled he is, if a surgeon doesn’t scrub before surgery, he’s going to contaminate everything he touches. And so will a national leader if he doesn’t have character.

I’m not naming names or talking about political parties. I’m teaching biblical principles, and if anything is partisan, then it’s the Bible being partisan. We are looking at principles straight out of the Word of God, and you can apply them as you wish. Names will be withheld to protect the guilty.

First, let’s look at…

The Leadership Qualities God Requires

The Bible has much to say about political leaders. It sometimes calls them “kings,” “princes,” “governors,” or “authorities,” but whatever leaders are called today, these Scriptures are as applicable as they were when written centuries ago. The first characteristic is…


3. Turn to Psalm 148:11-13.
_________ of the earth, and _____ people, princes and all judges of the earth, both young men and maidens, old men and children, let them __________ the ________ of the _______, for His name alone is excellent. His glory is above the earth and Heaven.”

In plain English, that verse says leaders over all of the earth, whether they be kings, princes or judges, are to praise God. People in the United States, because of our founding and history, understand this.

For the longest time, Americans have believed in the separation of church and state— rightly understood. But from the first Pilgrim forward, they never believed in the separation of God from government! To the contrary, their writings were filled with the importance of the role of the Bible, God, and faith in their creating and maintaining “a more perfect union.”

4. Leadership is really stewardship, because the leader acts for God.

Turn to Romans 13:3-4
3b …Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he [the ruler, king, government leader] is the ______________ of _____ to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for___ beareth not the __________ in _______: for he is the _____________ of _____, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

One of, if not the, most important functions of government is to provide safety for its citizens and protection from evildoers—both enemies abroad (hostile nations) and law breakers at home.

Look further down at v. 6:

6 For, for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are ________ _____________, attending continually upon this very thing.

How many times in the first 6 verses of Romans 13 does Paul say that the ruler [king, leader] is a minister of God for the citizens? ____________
In light of that, an ungodly man or woman is unfit for leadership.

Now, I’m not saying that a man or woman in our government’s leadership must be a Christian. In the early days of our nation, many were. In Paul’s day, they certainly weren’t. What I am saying is that the leader must be one who clearly conducts his or her life in a way that is not in conflict with godly principles. For example, not a crook, a liar, a thief, a cheat, a bribe-taker, a wine-bibber, etc. Winston Churchill, for example, was not a born-again Christian that we know of, but he was still a great leader and held biblical principles in high regard. The same can be said of Thomas Jefferson and many, many others.

5. Turn to Proverbs 16:12.

It is an abomination to _________ to commit _______________, for the throne is established by righteousness.”

Don’t tell me that character doesn’t make any difference. What you’re saying is that God’s Word, as expressed in this verse, is not true.

You ask, “What about a man who carries a Bible and attends church?” If he’s ungodly, he’s unfit for leadership, no matter what he does on Sunday. Nobody is fit for leadership who is ungodly.


6. Turn to Proverbs 8:12-16.

12 I, ____________ dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
14 ______________ is mine [wisdom is speaking now], and sound _____________: I am _____________________; I have _______________.
15 By me __________ reign, and princes decree ________________.
16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

Wisdom is speaking here. It is far, far better for a leader to be wise than it is for a leader to be intelligent, smart or gifted. How do we know this?

7. Solomon was the human instrument God used to pen the book of Proverbs. He was about to come to the throne of Israel, and he had an encounter with God.

Turn to 2 Chronicles 1:7-11.

7 In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, ____ what I shall _______ thee.
What if God were to come to you and say, “What do you want? Here it is, carte blanche, what do you want?” Note carefully Solomon’s answer:
8 And Solomon said unto God, “Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead.
9 Now, O Lord God, let Thy promise unto David my father be established: for Thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.
10 Give me now ______________ and _________________, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this Thy people, that is so great?”
11 And God said to Solomon, “Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge My people, over whom I have made thee king:
12 Wisdom and knowledge is _____________ unto thee; and I will give thee __________, and ____________, and ___________, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

God answered, “Solomon, because you’ve asked for wisdom, I’m going to give you wisdom. But beyond wisdom, I’m going to establish your kingdom and give you riches, honor and prosperity.”

When I vote, I’m going to look for a godly man or woman, a person who has real wisdom, not a person who leads according to the polls, not a person who leads by seeing which way the wind is blowing, but a person who I believe has godly wisdom.

Speaking about the polls, Harry Truman said,

“I wonder how far Moses would’ve gone if he had taken a poll in Egypt? What would Jesus Christ have preached if He had taken a poll in Israel? Where would the Reformation have gone if Martin Luther had taken a poll? It isn’t the polls, or public opinion of the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership, men with fortitude, honesty, and a belief in the right that makes the epics in history of the world.”

Leadership comes from godliness and from wisdom.


8. Turn a few chapters over to Proverbs 17 :7.

Excellent speech becometh not a fool. Much less do ___________ lips a prince.”

9. Now Proverbs 20:28,

Mercy and ___________ preserve the king and his throne is upholden by mercy.”

Leaders and liars are not the same. If a man is a liar, he has a basic character flaw. If you cannot trust a man to tell the truth, you cannot trust him at all.

A little girl once asked her mother, “Do all fairy tales begin with these words, ‘Once upon a time?’” Her mother answered, “No, sometimes they begin, ‘If I am elected.’”

Abraham Lincoln was a great American. He’s reported to have said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” If a man is not a truth-teller, he cannot lead with God’s approval.

10. Turn over to the Gospel of John, chapter 8:44. The background here is that the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees, have just confronted Jesus. What is going on here in verses 3 through 11?

See v. 19. The encounter gets even more contentious. Jesus is speaking right there
in the Temple, and it gets rather heated. Like our political elections. Jesus tells these religious leaders, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” Finally He says to them,

44 Ye are of your ____________ the _________, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no _________ in him. When he speaketh a _____, he speaketh of his own: for he is a ________, and the father of it.

Every liar is acting like the devil. Every truth-speaker is acting like the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why truthfulness is crucial for a national leader.


We’re not using the alternate meaning of discrimination where it means to discriminate against a person because of race or ethnicity—things over which they have no control. We speak of discrimination as in choosing between good and bad, wise and unwise.
If a leader cannot or does not discriminate between good and bad, the person cannot lead.

11. Turn to Proverbs 25:4-5.

4 “Take away the _________ from the silver and there shall come forth a vessel for the ___________.”

For a jeweler or the refiner to make a silver vessel, first he must take the scum, the dross, out of the silver ore.

5 “Take away the _______________ from before the king and his throne shall be established in ________________________.”

The nation’s leader does not need to be surrounded by wicked people. God help us when perjurers and scoffers have come out of the closet and gone into the Cabinet.

A wise king will purge out from among the administration wicked advisors and associates.

12. Turn to Proverbs 19:12.

If a ruler harken to _______, all his servants are _________________.”

If you want to know what a ruler is like, see the kind of people he surrounds himself with.

If the person is not a truth-teller, they’ll surround themselves with people who lie—wicked people.


If the leader does not have sexual morality, they are unfit to lead.

13. Turn to Proverbs 31:1-3.

The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. ‘What, my son? And what, the son of my womb? And what, the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy _______ to that which ________________ kings.’”

In this verse God says that immorality destroys a leader. If a person is sexually immoral, he is unfit to be a leader. If he has no sexual morals, if he will not keep his word concerning the most sacred vow, which is the marriage vow, how is he going to keep his word concerning any other vow?

If a man cannot control his sexual desires how can he lead a nation in a time of crisis? If a man has no moral standard of his own, how can he set a moral standard for the nation? How can he speak to young people? If a man is sexually immoral according to the Word of God, he cannot be the kind of a leader that God desires him to be. The same, of course, is true of a woman.


14. Continue to verse 4 of this same passage.

4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
5 Lest they __________, and __________ the _____, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
God’s Word says that a leader is not to be given to drinking. And while drugs are not mentioned here, certainly they are an implied, or anything that takes away your right of discrimination.
The three biggest parties in Washington are Democrat, Republican, and cocktail. I’m going to look for a leader who’s not just sober-minded but sober.


I’m looking for a leader who is not protective of him or herself, but protective of the weak.

Why does God give us leaders? Primarily to protect the weak and defend those who cannot defend themselves.

15. Remember that in verse 5 above, God says that the king is not to be a drunkard, “Lest they drink and forget the law and pervert the judgment of any of the _______________.” The afflicted include the weak and defenseless.

Proceed (in this same chapter) to verses 8 and 9.

8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.

God is telling the leader, “You are to speak for those who cannot speak, who are about to be destroyed.”

9 Open thy mouth, judge ____________________, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

God says to the leader, “You speak up for these.”

16. Turn to Psalm 94:20 and 21. David is asking God about an earthly throne—and it’s a rhetorical question, for which the answer is “no”:

Therefore, shall the throne of ____________ have fellowship with Thee which frameth mischief by a law?

It’s not God framing mischief by law, but those seated on the throne of iniquity. This could apply to the President, his cabinet, the Supreme Court, any judges, and our legislators.

They gather themselves together ____________ the soul of the ______________ and ______________ the ______________blood.

Do you think innocent blood is being condemned or shed today? ______

Someone asks, “Well, what if what’s going on is legal?” Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.

When Supreme Court justices decree that little pre-born babies are no longer individuals, no longer persons, what they have done is “frame mischief by a law. They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous and condemn the innocent blood.”
That is an abomination to God, clearly and graphically illustrated today by abortion, and particularly partial birth abortion.
When I come to vote, if that candidate will not stand up for the unborn, they shall not have my vote, period.

17. Turn to Proverbs 6:16-19. These verses by themselves call out many of our national and local leaders as men and women who do things that are an abomination to God. Read the list!

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him:
17 A ___________ look, a _________ tongue, and _________ that ______ innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth ____________ _________________, feet that be swift in _____________ to ________________,
19 A ___________ witness that ______________ lies, and he that ___________ ________________ among __________________.

That in itself is almost the best description one could have of today’s political campaigns.

18. Now turn over to Jeremiah 22:2-5 for our last passage in today’s study.
God has appeared to Jeremiah, instructing him to give the king this message:

2 And say, Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates:
3 Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye _______________ and ___________________, and deliver the spoiled _____ of the hand of the __________________: and do no ___________, do no ______________ to the _______________, the ________________, nor the ______________, neither shed ________________ _____________ in this place.
4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
5 But if ye will _______ hear these words, I swear by Myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall ________________ a ______________________.

Sobering words. God begins with “Thus saith the Lord,” which should cause all of us to snap to attention!

Then God says to the king/ruler/leader, “If you do not protect these innocents, I swear by Myself, this house shall become desolation.”

When God promises, He always fulfills. When God swears by Himself, we should tremble in the surety that the thing will come to pass.

Desolation, the final word in this promise. It brings us back to where we began our study: “When the wicked rule the people mourn.”

We’ll pause now and pick up here in our next study with the 3 remaining points:

  • the choice God respects
  • the consequences God reveals
  • the control God reserves