Brother Martin on government officials:
They must put public good before personal welfare, honor, and comfort
Martin Luther, never one to mince words, knew inept officials when he encountered them — people who “have little interest in the country and the nation; they think that they alone must be feted and honored.”
Martin Luther, ca. 1529
by Lucas Cranach the Elder
“A man who is to administer an office and to rule well dare not follow his own ideas. In the world there are many who seek their own advantage, honor, and power. This never makes for good government. For such people have little interest in the country and the nation; they think that they alone must be feted and honored. They are unwilling to endure peril, ingratitude, contempt, and disgrace; or when they do encounter such things, they grow furious and foolish, begin to rage, and turn everything topsy-turvy. They are determined to avenge themselves and to carry their point even though everything is ruined and the government collapses.
“These people are not fit to rule. They should remain peasants here on earth and first learn to accommodate themselves to the will of others and to be subject to them. He who would govern well must be able to ignore his own honor and welfare, to scorn and forget ingratitude and malice, and to be intent solely on the well-being of country and people. He must place the public good above his own welfare, honor, and comfort.”
From Luther’s Works, Vol. 24, pp. 133-134. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1961)