Choosing the right leaders
- Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - January 5, 2016 - 9:00am

Now that we will be going through another political exercise of choosing our political leaders, we first of all have to go to God, praying and begging that we be enlightened and that the whole process be peaceful, beneficial and fruitful to all of us. This national event is no joke. We have to try to be dead serious about it.

Of course, we have to reassure ourselves that since there are no perfect candidates, no perfect electorate, and the whole exercise, in spite of being designed to be effective, honest and fair, will always have some loopholes when put into practice, God can always make do with anything, even the worst scenario, and can derive some good from evil. There's always a fallback somewhere somehow.

That's why we are still afloat in spite of all kinds of crises through the years. We should never forget that God is in the middle of this very contentious national exercise, and in his own ways is intervening in it actively. Let's hope that we can have the faith to see God's hand in our political life. We need to remind ourselves that there's nothing in our life where God is not concerned and involved somehow.

Just the same, that sobering fact does not exempt us from choosing the right leaders as best as we can. That's why we, at least, have to know what would make a good leader. We have to know what criteria to use and how these criteria should be ranked according to importance and indispensability.

Of course, we can have many ideas about this, but I would say that the most important quality of a leader is that he should be a man of God, a man after the heart of God. After all, everything good here on earth, including leadership, has God as its source, pattern and power.

When a leader is truly a man of God and not just faking it, he will also have the political welfare of the people in his heart. He will be concerned of both the temporal common good of the people as well as the more important eternal common good. We should try to avoid making these two levels of common good conflict with each other.

A true leader will strive to be honest and competent in his job, always dialoguing with the people to monitor their needs and lead them according to his vision of good governance.

He understands perfectly well that his work is an organic extension of God's providence insofar as the political needs of the people are concerned. And so he does not depend only on what is practical and convenient for the people. He will try his best that God's laws for us be given priority and be made to inspire all the policies he will pursue.

Christian believers should be actively involved in the political life of the country. Of course, the laity are the ones directly involved in politics, since politics will always be partisan in character. The clergy can only play the inspiring role and should be above partisan lines.

Thus, Christian believers who also are citizens and therefore part of the electorate should know how to choose their leaders well. They have to learn how to discern the true and the false leaders, how to weigh the platforms, views and words of the candidates.

Let's remember what Christ said of false prophets. "Beware of false prophets," he said, "who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves." (Mt 7,15) They can show great signs and wonders, and as St. Paul said, "they deceive the hearts of the simple by their good words and fair speeches." (Rom 16,18)


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