THE ROLE OF THE BELIEVER IN GOVERNANCE
The word “governance” came from the Latin verb “gubernare,” or more originally from the Greek word “kubernaein,” which means “to steer.” Basing on its etymology, governance refers to the manner of steering or governing, or of directing and controlling, a group of people or a state.
- The World Bank in a Poverty Reduction Strategy Handbook defines governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.”
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in its 1997 policy paper, defined governance as “the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences”.
- Canada’s Institute of Governance (2002) offers another general definition as “Governance is the process whereby societies or organisations make important decisions, determine whom they involve and how they render account”.
TYPES OF GOVERNANCE
- Theocracy: Theocracy, from the Greek word meaning “rule of God,” refers to a government controlled by religious authorities. The connotation is that the government is repressive and intolerant of values that conflict with the dominant theology.
- Authoritarian: Less a form of government than a description, this term connotes an oppressive form of rule in which citizens’ rights are restricted, putatively for the society’s security and stability.
- Autocracy: An autocracy (from the Greek words for “self” and “rule” but referring not to self-determination but to “one who rules by himself”) is a government led by one person with dictatorial power.
- Dictatorship: This term, stemming from the Latin word meaning “to declare” and originally a reference to a temporary emergency government established by the Roman Senate, now refers to an autocratic rule by one or more people.
- Federation: A federation (the word is from the Latin term for “compact” or “league” and ultimately derived from the word for “trust”) is a form of government in which subordinate jurisdictions such as states or provinces reserve some sovereignty and/or rights under a national government.
- Junta: This term — also spelled junto and derived from the Spanish word for “joined,” refers to a post-revolutionary government and carries a sense of a tightly controlled government.
- Democracy: In its literal sense, a democracy is, as its Greek etymology specifies, a rule of the people. It refers to a system of government in which the will of the people is carried out by elected representatives.
- Monarchy: A monarchy (from the Greek term meaning “rule by one”) is a government led by a person usually selected by hereditary succession. However, the ruler’s authority may vary from nominal (a figurehead) to absolute (a despot).
- Republic: A republic (the word is Latin for “public thing”) is a government whose authority is based on citizen voters represented by elected officials chosen in free elections, as opposed to a monarchy or a dictatorship.
- Totalitarian: Derived from the Italian word for “totality,” this word describes a dictatorial government.
- Tyranny: Tyranny is a condition in which a nation is under the rule of a tyrant, who seized power illegally and governs with few or no checks and balances.
- Anarchy: Anarchy is from the Greek word meaning “no rule” and refers to a society without government. Because this is an impractical if not impossible condition, it is generally used in a looser sense of chaos.
THE VIEW OF GOD ON GOVERNANCE
Governance is an act of administration: Governance means leading and exercising authority over a group of people. God has called us into a life of influence, control and dominion – Gen 1:28. Believers (Christians) are to take charge in all areas of life including governance. As the light of the world, we are to dispel the darkness of unrighteousness, sycophancy –Matthew 5:15-16
- God is the ultimate power who delegates functions to human beings – Romans 13:1, Genesis 45:8, Genesis 1:26.
- Governance/Government/Ruling is a calling of the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:28, Romans 12:8
- Governance/ruling is a machinery for orderliness and sanity –Titus 1:5, Judges 21:25
- God instituted governance for administration of justice and general welfare of citizenry – Psalm 72:4
- God commanded the governed to submit to those in authority (the government) – Romans 13:1-2, Ephesians 6:5-8.
- God instituted governance as a means of serving the governed i.e to govern is to serve – Matthew 20:25-28
God wants His children involved in governance to fulfil His mandate and for the best of the governed. The Bible contains examples of God’s children who governed and left indelible footprints in the path of history. Citizenry too have their duties to provide for good governance. Therefore, governance involves the government and the governed.
God instituted governance; it is not a secular concept or people’s creation. Believers should therefore take their rightful place in deciding the destiny of their nations and turn the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of God which is God’s divine mandate for us.
Romans 13:1- 16 confer the following responsibilities to those in government.
- Judge/punish evil work (justice) – Romans 13:3,4
- Reward good work (reward/award) – Romans 13:3
- Ordained to do only what is good to the citizenry (Rule of law/fairness) – Romans 13:4
- Attending continually to needs (welfare) – Romans 13:6
WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN GOVERNANCE
- To provide/effect positive and lasting change – Genesis 1:26, 41:33-38
- To make righteous laws and decrees which will promote national progress – Proverb 14:34
- To bring blessing and breakthrough to the citizens – Proverbs 11:11
- To avoid paying costly price for bad leadership – Romans 13:12
- It is God’s will and instruction – 1Peter 2:13-15
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES IN THE BIBLE
Much of Daniel’s career was spent at the highest levels of the Babylonian government, where he served as the chief advisor to King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5: 11- 12; and 1: 18 – 21). The Bible tells of several other people who served God while working in government positions. Some of them came to believe in Him while so employed. The table below lists some of the more noteworthy.
- Joseph (Genesis 39 – 50) – After being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, he was taken to Egypt, where God arranged matters for him to eventually become the Chief Executive Officer of the nation.
- Caleb (Numbers 13 – 14) – He served as a spy for Moses when the Israelites prepared to enter Canaan. Years later he served as a leader to help divide the land.
- Joshua (Numbers 13 – 14; Joshua 1: 1-3: 17) – He served as a spy with Caleb and later was called to succeed Moses as Israel’s leader.
- Deborah (Judges 4 – 5) – She is the only female judge over Israel mentioned in the Bible. After her military commander was victorious in battle with her help, she led her people in a victory song.
- David (1 Samuel 16 – 31;2 Samuel 1 – 24) – He rose from obscurity as a Shepherd to become the permanent King of Israel.
- Solomon (1Kings 3 – 11) – Successor to David, he was best known for His wisdom, but also excelled in international trade, building projects which included the temple, amassing great wealth, and writing much of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and probably Songs of Solomon.