I remember George W. Bush claiming a sense of God’s calling to lead the USA when he vied for the nomination of the Republican Party and subsequently ran on their platform to defeat Al Gore. Did I believe him? Absolutely! It is possible for God to call His children into politics and governance. I personally believe in God’s interest in every valuable facet of human endeavor, particularly in governance which affects even the operations of the Kingdom of God on the earth. From the examples of Joseph and Daniel, the various kings of Israel and Christian monarchs in church history, God has raised many of His covenant children to lead various empires and nations through critical times and seasons in order to establish His Kingdom purposes on earth. There must be a good number of God’s children today that He will desire to be in the various arms of our modern democracies and even in the monarchies also despite their whittled down influence. The question only arises because of the murky waters of modern politics.
Laced with corruption, violence, rigging, mudslinging and so much lies, it’s so difficult to be a politician today and not be stained by some of the filth that characterises it.
A cursory look into scriptures however reveals the political environment of Bible days was not always clean either.
The book of judges has several examples of Israel straying away from righteousness under negative influencers till God would them raise judges to restore the nation. While they had to resort to military might to succeed, I believe positive spiritual and moral influences can be exerted upon our societies and nations for transformational purposes today. The days of Elijah were days of apostasy and God had to raise Jehu to clean up the stable with military might in addition to the spiritual influence of Elijah and Elisha. The deserted land of Judah was under corrupt Jewish leaders who were extorting the remnants of the people till Nehemiah restored justice, equity and order. God has always raised up people who refused to be stained by the filth of the day and became voices of truth and instruments of righteous change for their nations. He is stirring the hearts of many again today and they should not shy away from plunging into the deep waters of politics with determination to make a difference. With God on their side, they will become positive influences on our democracies.
I have watched as several believers have made feeble attempts at running for political offices. Some of their attempts have been rather naive and presumptuous and that is why I want to offer some advice. Firstly, they need to realise there is nothing like winning elections without structure. My native country Nigeria is made up of 36 states, 774 local governments and thousands of wards. I understood the existence of wards when my dad was a ward chairman himself and also had influence on a few other ones. He belonged to a political club at one time that always determined the political direction of the local government. I became aware that politics is local. With a nation as vast as Nigeria and a population that is largely illiterate or semi literate, focusing on the electronic and social media, popular speaking platforms and branding is nothing but putting the cart before the horse. A bottom up approach is better, where from the local level and gradually to the top, influence is built with locals through community impact programmes, distribution of relief materials(deridingly called stomach infrastructure) and economic empowerment initiatives. Except you speak the language of the masses to them, they will not listen. What they need is political enlightenment to make the right choices at electioneering season, but their own perceived needs are financial and material in nature. The selfish political elite exploit their vulnerabilities to fleece them every election season and continue to oppress them. It is however naive of aspirants to neglect opening the doors of the people’s hearts first by addressing their immediate needs before enlightening them better.
Secondly, it’s important to understand the national political culture. People only vote along two party lines in some countries. Going outside of them is to see your ambition dead on arrival. There are exceptions at local levels, but it is preposterous to want to be an American president outside of the Democratic and Republican parties and same with Nigeria. To be a Nigerian president will have to be on either the Peoples Democratic Party or the All Progressives Congress. However, to be a state governor in Anambra state in South East Nigeria means contesting on the platform of APGA. Charles Soludo, the current governor, learnt his lessons when he lost the governorship election as the best choice contesting on a weak platform. To contest on the platform of unknown parties is rather naive. I have seen brilliant people, godly aspirants, economic gurus, political and social activists contest again and again and lose again and again because of their ‘holier than thou’ attitudes to stronger platforms. Yes, God wants His children there but they should learn ‘political arithmetic’ to borrow the words of the late former senate president ‘Chuba Okadigbo’.
Again, why make initial foray into politics and want to be president right away? Except you have been able to build a strong reputation, influence and stature through business like MKO Abiola, Donald trump or professional stature like Yemi Osinbajo, you need to rise through the ranks. First aim to conquer a local government, state constituency, federal constituency, serve as a commisioner or adviser to a governor before seeking to be governor or president. Earn your stripes, make a name on smaller platforms, use lesser opportunities productively and you stand the chance to rise. It does not take being president or governor alone to make a difference. It should be clear that you seek to be a servant leader. Servant leaders do not serve because they are leaders, they become leaders because they serve.
Networking across board is the most important thing. In a nation of different ethnicities and religions, a good Christian politician must be able to find common grounds with others. Mahatma Ghandi was a strong and positive influence on India in his lifetime and yet a Buddhist. Dubai has become the world’s number one favorite tourist destination and the Architect of the nation’s
transformation and the entire leadership building on his foundation are Muslims. China is rising today with speed to become the worlds largest economy and yet the leaders are mostly atheists and non Christians. To stay within our prism and cocoon, planning to be a vanguard of Christians alone, ruling the country or assuming a sole preserve of national solutions is rather narrow minded. In scripture, I see God through Isaiah prophesying the rise of the heathen King Cyrus of Persia for His own purpose. God is not limited to Christian Human Resources in carrying out His Agenda on earth and we must recognise that and learn to get along with others. This means supporting their aspirations also, serving under them and partnering with them to change the nation. We only need to find shared values and common grounds. I pray God will raise modern day Josephs, Daniels and Nehemiahs who will work the corridors of power, take the reins of authority and carry out God’s kingdom purposes on earth.