The Measure Of A Leader

In the 1993 movie Dave, Bill Mitchell is the philandering and disengaged President of the United States. Dave Kovic is a sweet-natured and caring Temp Agency operator, who by a staggering coincidence looks exactly like the President. When Mitchell wants to escape an official luncheon, the Secret Service hires Dave to stand in for him.

Unfortunately, Mitchell suffers a severe stroke during a tryst with one of his aides, and Dave finds himself stuck in the role indefinitely. The corrupt and manipulative Chief of Staff, Bob Alexander, plans to use Dave to elevate himself to the White House—but unfortunately, he doesn’t count on Dave enjoying himself in office, using his luck to make the country a better place, and falling in love with the beautiful First Lady.

In the end, Dave hands the reigns of the presidency to the un-flashy, un-charismatic, and somewhat strange vice president, played by Ben Kingsley.

What makes a good leader–at least in God’s eyes? You may be surprised by the answer.

Please join me in today’s Bible conversation.


2 Kings 13:1-14:29
Acts 18:23-19:12
Psalm 146:1-10
Proverbs 18:2-3


2 Kings 13:1-14:29. Although the king isn’t the designated spiritual leader of Israel—that’s the role of the high priest or  prophet—he definitely sets the tone. We read that King Jehoahaz followed in the sins of Jeroboam, but then pleaded for God to rescue them, while still continuing in the evil king’s sins.

King Jehoahaz and the rest of Israel follow a familiar pattern, which actually began in the book of Judges:

  1. The people worship idols.
  2. God becomes angry and allows the surrounding countries to invade them. T
  3. he people beg for God to save them. God sends a deliverer.
  4. The people begin worshipping idols again.

“The Lord provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before” (verse 5). Who was the deliverer? Probably Elisha the prophet, although at various times God used kings, or even pagan leaders of foreign countries who defeated any invading countries.

King Jehoahaz also exhibited little vision for Israel. When Elisha encouraged the king to strike the symbolic arrows of victory into the ground, he showed very little resolve. Has weak leadership resulted in a very weak army (see 2 Kings 13:7).

Nevertheless, despite Israel’s sin, we see a window into God’s compassionate heart:

Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence (2 Kings 13:22-23).

Next, we read about King Amaziah of Judah, whose arrogance caused the invasion by Israel and a pillaging of the temple. His unpopular decisions prompted his assassination.

Just a thought: what is the people’s recourse when they are led by an unfit king? Without an election every few years, their only alternative is assassination.

Acts 18:23-19:12. At the beginning of our reading, we learn of Apollos. Although he was preaching an incomplete version of the gospel, he had obviously become quite an effective communicator. His background is explained because he became a prominent leader in the New Testament church. In 1 Corinthians, Paul rebukes the church in Corinth for taking sides with various leaders. Apollos was one of those leaders (see 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:4-22).

Psalm 146:1-10. “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save” (verse 3). Every election, politicians assure us that we can trust them because they can save us. This verse reminds us that while we should respect politicians, they will never be completely trustworthy and they will never be able to save us.

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Historians and archeologists tell us that King Jeroboam II was one of Israel’s most important kings. In fact, we read that he restored Israel’s boundaries which had been lost through various battles. Oddly enough, the writer of 2 Kings only gives him seven verses (2 Kings 14:23-29).

This echoes the memory of King Omri, who was another highly successful king but given little coverage in 1 Kings (read 1 Kings 16).

Today, when the economy is struggling, people become very concerned about electing officials who can turn everything around. Not long ago, the rallying cry during one election tried to convince us, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

But witnessing the short shrift Kings Omri and Jeroboam II receive in Scripture prompts me to ask what is most important.

What is most important in God’s eyes—expertise or character? Obviously, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but it seems like character triumphs over expertise.

Take King David, for example. What made him Israel’s greatest king? He was a strong military leader and he transformed Jerusalem from a foreign stronghold into the spiritual and political capital of Israel. We also know he was a poor father, a murderer, and an adulterer. Yet despite his flaws, we also know that he had a heart for God. When caught in a web of deception surrounding the murder of Uriah and the “sudden” pregnancy of his new wife Bathsheba, David acknowledged his sin and repented.

His character distinguished him as a great man.

Perhaps our definition of a great leader differs from God’s.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What qualities do you look for in a leader?
  3. Why is a leader’s character important to God?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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