In our last blog, we raised the question of whether God will judge us for the actions we take when we are in a leadership position of an organization.

Machiavelli’s The Prince is a guide on how to obtain and hold political power in government, business, academia, and any other organization.  Machiavelli asserts a leader’s primary responsibility is to ensure the survival of the organization and the leader should do whatever is necessary to ensure that survival. The principles Machiavelli advocates are not necessarily evil.  For example, he points out that cruelty to a few individuals (punishment or executions) can prevent injury to the whole community. [1]  We see this principle applied in our legal system when persons like Timothy McVeigh are tried and punished.

Now, the term Machiavelli to most people does not have good connotations because he recommends doing whatever is necessary—good or evil—to maintain power.  However, it seems that even God follows some of Machiavelli’s principles.  Machiavelli states a leader should be both feared and loved [2] and the Bible teaches that God uses both.  The fear God uses is fear of what he will do to us after this life is over.  “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).  God also uses love (John 3:16).

So if, as we assert in this blog, our ultimate goal is to become like God, does that mean we are free to use Machiavelli’s principles?  The problem is that Jesus teaches a different way.  He tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43).  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus praised the meek, the merciful, and the peacemakers (Matthew 5:3-10).  Jesus says the humble will be exalted Luke 18:9-14).  That is not very Machiavellian.


[1]   Luigi Ricci, trans., Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, New York:  New American Library, 1952, p. 89.

[2]   Ricci, p. 90.

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