I'm having a little difficulty with a teaching in my church. There is a belief that everyone in a leadership position has been placed there by God. This doesn't seem supported by scripture. I have read Decision Making and the Will of God, and the Bible seems to say that the way God influences who is in any given position is through those making decisions supported by knowledge of God's will stated in scripture. I have noticed that whenever someone's leadership or decision is called into question, we are advised to just trust God, since the individual is in his position because God wanted him there. How do you address something like this? What are your thoughts?

In this case, I think people are confusing Gods permissive will with his sovereign will. God allows people to lead -- just as he allowed Nero and the Romans to rule and bear the sword (Rom 13). These (unsavory) leaders had God-given authority, and they were to be obeyed. They fulfilled God's will, yet of course they did not please him -- obey his righteous will. Nevertheless, even though leaders may not please God (think Pharaoh!), he still works through them.

Similarly, natural disasters are often called "acts of God" (even by insurance companies). Yet surely it is not meant that God dispatches tornados and causes floods. Rather, these events are permitted by him (his permissive will).

If you are robbed, the robber could (theoretically) claim, "God put me here. Give me your wallet." In a sense the thief is correct; God did allow him to mug you. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should surrender your wallet (although it would probably be prudent to do so). God permitted Christ to suffer and die under Pontius Pilate (indirect willing); he raised Jesus from the dead (direct willing). Biblical theology recognizes that every event that happens is willed by God: he permits it to happen, or he (directly) causes it to happen.

The Bible specifies multiple sources of wisdom, like counselors, leaders, scripture, the example of Christ, and even common sense. The leader's authority comes from the word of God; if he or she deviates from God's will, we may have an obligation to respectfully decline to follow. Of course not everything that might bother us is worth "causing a scene." Some decisions simply need to be made -- and respected (like what time church begins). We should be team players -- but without surrendering our commitment to biblical principles.

[For more on this, please refer to my podcast + notes on Decision Making and the Will of God.]