When I moved to the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos was President. That was 1984. Twenty-five years ago and five Presidents ago. During those years I have lived through good and bad leadership, both here and abroad.
Some naively think that if we could only elect an Evangelical president, then we would live happily ever after. I don’t think so. It is possible to be a good Christian and an inept leader. It is also possible to be a non-Christian and still be a good leader. It takes more than church membership and a consistent devotional life to qualify one to lead a nation a city or a barangay.
Having said that, I still believe the fear of God IS the best starting point for good leadership. So it would seem that nations with many godly people, would also elect godly leaders. Sadly, that is not the case. Nigeria has churches on every corner, including some of the largest churches in the world, yet it is consistently listed as one of the five most corrupt nations in the world. The Philippines is the "only Christian nation in Asia" and is also one of the most corrupt. Why?
I think we can find the answer in a Bible story. After many sad examples of poor leadership, the Book of Judges ends with these words: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
Why were there no godly leaders in Israel at this time? The only parable in the Old Testament (Judges 9) reveals why good leadership is so rare, especially in civil government.
Here’s a quick summary of the parable: The olive tree, the fig tree and the vine – the three most important and honored plants in Israel - when asked to serve in leadership, all had the same response: “Should I give up my fruit/oil/wine?”
Since none of the qualified plants were willing to "give up" and sacrifice in order to serve in government, they were stuck with the worthless bramble weed. I think the same thing happens too often in the modern world.
The olive, the fig and the vine instinctively knew that serving in government involves a “giving up” of something. But sadly, many potentially great elected officials never run for office because they don’t want to give up their privacy, security and high salary.
Until godly Filipino “olives, figs and vines” are willing to give up something in order to run for elected office, we will be stuck with worthless “bramble” bushes as leaders.