The recent presidential debate turned out to be a disappointment for many, no matter which side they may have favored. As some have suggested in evaluating that event, “we all lost”. The lack of civility didn’t reflect well on all who were involved, the two candidates as well as the moderator. After a few minutes of watching the chaotic proceedings, I commented to my wife, “If this is the best we can do, our nation is in trouble.”
We would hope for better things from those who are vying for the highest office in the land. Yet maybe something positive did result from that debate. Hopefully it served as a reminder to us not to place our hopes and trust in men, no matter who they are. They are all fallible. They all have their faults. And they will all disappoint us to some degree. During an election year in particular it is easy to get so supportive of our candidate that we lose that perspective. The Bible reminds us, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9). Another scripture passage commands, “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help” (Psalm 146:3). This psalm goes on to contrast the limitations of a ruler who will soon be gone to the unlimited power of the Almighty God who shall work and reign forever.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that elections aren’t important. Who we choose as our leaders can be a significant and influential decision. A leader can have a very powerful impact on the future course of the nation, state or whatever organization over which he/she “rules”. We should take very seriously and prayerfully such opportunities to select a leader. However, through it all let’s remember not to pin our hopes and dreams primarily on that individual. Regardless of who gets elected, our trust needs to remain in God.
The Bible is full of examples of leaders – good leaders, even godly leaders – who end up disappointing us at some point. An effective king like David will disappoint us by having an affair with another man’s wife and then arranging for his murder. A godly man like Noah will disappoint us by getting drunk. A faithful and humble leader like Moses will give in to momentary pride and impatience while speaking harshly to his people and striking the rock with his rod instead of obeying God’s instructions. Good King Hezekiah will succumb to the temptation to show off his treasures to his Babylonian visitors, opening the door for their returning as conquerors one day. Even Peter (the after-Pentecost Peter) will disappoint us by compromising his beliefs and acting hypocritical when facing certain peer pressures (see Galatians 2:11-13).
So let’s not be surprised when our leaders stumble or otherwise reveal their shortcomings. They are fallible human beings just like the rest of us. However that doesn’t mean we can’t expect and pray for them to do what’s right and to exhibit good character. We can seek to hold them to a higher standard than they sometimes manifest. Yet we shouldn’t be shocked or become overly-discouraged when they fail to live up to those standards.
So don’t let the ups and downs of an election year and the imperfections of our candidates for leadership send you into a tailspin. Keep your eyes on the Ruler over all things. God is always good and faithful. He will always be there and won’t let us down. He is the one King we can fully trust.