Commentary by Greg Baker
I have long admired the British monarchy and was so sad to hear the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, whose life-long example reminds us of the importance of the position of head of state.
This crucial position in government is too often overlooked. Yet Queen Elizabeth’s life has been an example, not only to her nation, but also the world, of how the head of state can – with Christ-like service and self-sacrifice – truly lead a nation.
A traditional monarchy holds many responsibilities, including lawmaker, CEO, commander of armies, chief judge, and sovereign. Today, most countries distribute those responsibilities to many different people and at times different branches of government. In the United Kingdom and its commonwealth of nations, however, the responsibility of the head of state still rested with the Queen.
The head of state is an important position. Though it does not hold any physical, tangible powers, it does have an incredible power to influence. Much like a pastor leads a church by example in character and conduct, governments lead nations through the character and conduct of their heads of state. Nations will often rise or fall to the standards set by position. In America, this power rests with the president, and until her recent passing, Queen Elizabeth held this power and great responsibility for her nation.
Biblically, a king’s performance as head of state is often the very first thing and sometimes the only thing we learn about them: “King so and so, son of so and so, reigned this many years in Jerusalem and he walked (or did not walk) like his father David.”
These verses, notice, not only serve as a barometer for the direction of the king’s life, but also the entire nation. The hearts of the people of Israel followed the hearts of both King Josiah and King Mannasah, both good and bad, respectively.
Queen Elizabeth II served in this crucial role for 70 years, the longest in British history and second longest in world history. She led from the time of Winston Churchill, through the end of World War II, the Cold War, the social unrest of 60s and 70s, multiple recessions, the overall decline of the British Empire, the War on Terror, and the turn into the 21st Century. During times of great uncertainly, Queen Elizabeth was a voice of stability for not only her nation, but also many others. As Americans, who have gone through many presidents since Queen Elizabeth became queen (Truman to Biden), we too have looked to her as a rock in many seasons of instability.
Queen Elizabeth II was a symbol and example of putting the cause and needs of others before her own. She and her family greatly sacrificed for this service, as she faithfully served for 70 years. She was not without error, but her own writings show her incredible commitment to people and service and her Lord, Jesus Christ. She was a woman under authority. Her people loved her and followed her, which has been reflected much in people’s outpouring the past few days.
As we mourn Queen Elizabeth II and witness the end of a truly special era, marked by generations known for their self-sacrifice and service, we must not let what they stood for die with them. We must expect more from our heads of state and not accept a status quo of lesser examples. We must remember the life they live matters for both them and their nations. We must call them to shepherd their people, to look beyond their selves, and to look out for the needs of others. That begins with their example of laying down their own lives first and calling others to follow.
As Christians, we are commanded to pray for our heads of state, including King Charles, who now holds a great responsibility. A significant amount of weight has moved onto his shoulders. As Christians, we must remember the importance of the head of state and hold out the example that Christ has set for us. For Jesus is the perfect Head of State, as our eternal king and perfect example to imitate.
Thank you, Queen Elizabeth, for your service to God and country and so many more … and God save the King!
Greg Baker is executive vice president and founding director of The FAMiLY Leader’s Church Ambassador Network.