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On Choosing Leaders

By: Dan Smithwick

On Choosing Leaders

Exodus 18:21 (KJV)
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

Romans 13:4 (KJV)
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; -- for he is the minister of God, --.

These verses of scripture have long been used by the Christian Church to foster an attitude of how people of any faith should select civil leaders for providing an orderly, God-fearing society based on objective truth for the way life is to be done. For decades in America, we have ignored the commands of these verses- to be a Bible-based community of people. This week, in my opinion, we struck bottom. We chose an administration that will not base public policy around the axiom of ‘hating covetousness,’ but rather will likely promote it at every turn of society. There can hardly be anything more threatening to a nation’s liberty than such an action.

Yet, we must remember, God is sovereign. He was neither surprised nor disappointed with the results of this democratic selection of leaders. I say this because of another ‘proverb’ that Christian philosophers have stated for eons: God always gives His people the type of government they deserve.

We simply do not deserve liberty and prosperity. What would you point to over the past 40 years to convince God that liberty and prosperity should be the ‘fruits of our labors?’ Or that because of our faithfulness to His Word we are deserving of good things? I would like to see your list.

What convinces me that we ‘got what we deserve’ this week, are the results of biblical worldview understanding that I have been observing from a front-row seat for over two decades. Most of the recipients of this short essay know of our worldview assessment program called, The PEERS Test. It measures a person’s basic worldview beliefs in five areas: Politics, Economics, Education, Religion and Social Issues (PEERS). The results are then categorized into one of four worldview classifications: Biblical Theism, Moderate Christian, Humanism, or Socialism. Please note: Socialism is based entirely on the attribute of covetousness.

For a quarter of a century of PEERS testing, with approximately 100,000 tests of youth from Christian homes, we have been observing results move away from a mature Biblical Theistic worldview, toward a Socialist worldview. Let me share a very recent example:

Last week we conducted PEERS testing for a pricy Christian school in one of our nation’s largest cities. This is a large school with the following claim in its mission statement:

[name] is an independent, Christ-centered college preparatory school that integrates learning with biblical faith --- for the Glory of Jesus Christ.

Note: I am not criticizing the statement per se, all Christian schools have similar such statements about why they exist. What I am criticizing is that the mission statement does not fit with their results.

The rating of worldview understanding of the PEERS test is based on the following numerical scale (+100 to -100):
70—100 Biblical Theism
30 - 69 Moderate Christian
0 – 29 Secularism/Humanism
-100 – 0 Socialism

About 5% of Christian schools score in top category, over half score in the bottom two categories, with the trend dropping about 2-3 points per year for 25 years.

The school I referred to above had a composite score of 13.88.

The outcomes at of this school are extremely relevant to what happened in America this week, politically speaking. Here is why:

There is a sixth index on the PEERS Test called, Limited Government. This index includes all test items (out of 70 total) that have any view with the question, “What is the role of civil government regarding the topic being addressed?”

This school (with testing from two high school grades) scored -1.30 in the Limited Government category, ranking them in the Socialism category of the PEERS test. Yet, 75.4% of the students marked themselves as “Republicans.” I am convinced that they selected Republican because their parents have been telling them for years, “We are REPUBLICANS!” But what these kids want is a Republican president who offers a Socialist view of life.

Here is one example from the test questions that cause them to think in this direction:

“In a democratic society, citizens have a civil right to an education and this right must be protected and enforced by civil governments.”

Both constitutionally and biblically speaking, this statement is wrong. Education is not a “right,” (entitlement) and civil government does not have responsibility for education, certainly not at the high school level. Note: I am happy to provide a detailed Position Paper on this test question if you care to read further.

But for this Christian school, 94.7% of the student body missed this test question, siding with the Humanist/Socialist view- “education is my right.”
If our young people (Church attending families) believe that they are “owed” an education which others are obligated to provide, guaranteed by our civil government, it is a very short step to also view things such as a job, housing, health care (the good life!) as a “right to be guaranteed.” May I say Greece?
This is Socialism; this is covetousness.
But this is not the worst of why we (the Christian community) deserved the political results that we received. In spite of all the rhetoric from the Christian community about the need for godly values and principles, 85% of church families still send their children to the government’s school system, an officially Socialist institution where entitlement thinking is the norm. Yes, we are just getting what we deserve.

So, what now?
I don’t pretend to have a clear answer on where we go from here- how to once again become a nation based on Exodus 18:21 and Romans 13:4, and all that that means. But this much I do know, we don’t need a 4-year plan to right the ship; we need something like a 24-year plan. We need to think long-term, very hard and very carefully. Before thinking about ‘who we will elect next time,’ we MUST rethink our views about leadership.

I have been working at Nehemiah Institute for 25 years; a ministry we founded in 1986. Our mission is all about doing just what Nehemiah of the Old Testament did: rebuild a fallen city. We are a fallen city today.

If you share the views I have expressed here, and want to help, and I do mean HELP, then I would like to hear from you. I want to take Nehemiah Institute to a new level, very likely into new hands that can truly result in a rebuilding of America. It will be hard, long and expensive.

Like Nehemiah of old, I want to start building a team of people who are willing to rebuild “in front of their own house,” (Nehemiah, chapter 3). If this is your heart today, send me a note, please:


If you would like to discuss this matter in person, give me a brief summary of your views and a phone number.

Ps- If it is your ambition to simply find a way to help get more Republicans elected to civil office, let’s not waste my time or yours.

Also, please circulate this article to others as you like.



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