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Origin of the Word President

QUESTION: What is the origin of the word President?


Why does America have a president, while Great Britain has a prime minister and Russia has a premier? What is the difference and how did it all get started? What happened to all the kings and queens who used to rule the world? And where did the word president come from?

Dictionaries tell us that the word president originated from the Latin praesident-, praesidens, based on the present participle of praesidEre. Thus, a president is an official who presides over a body of people. That body could be a club or it could be a nation. The president occupies the role of authority over the body.

In the business world, a president is the chief office of an organization, like a corporation or institution. That president's job responsibilities include guiding the direction of the body and administering its policies.

In politics, a president is most often an elected official who presides over a republic, or a nation governed by the people. In America, when the United States first established their independence from England in 1776, many people wanted to make General George Washington America's first king. Washington would not have it. Together with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and America's other founding fathers, a constitution was created by which the government of the United States would be established. America was created a nation by, for, and of the people with a representative government - a constitutional republic. Power rests with the citizens who are presided over by an elected official known as the President.

In biblical times, when God selected the nation of Israel to be His chosen nation, His desire was for them to be a theocracy, governed by God's law. He appointed leaders like Moses to be His human conduits. After the time of the judges had come to an end, the people begged God to give them a king, like all the other nations. Because God gives us free will, He allowed them to choose a king. Saul was the beginning of a string of mostly evil and corrupt kings. Could it be God knew best all along?

When America was becoming a nation, the people initially wanted to make George Washington their king. But Washington had no desire to be a monarch. He and the other founding fathers understood the danger of putting too much power in the hands of one person.

The constitutional republic they formed is based on a system of triple checks. That's why America has a President, Congress, and a Supreme Court. Ideally, this system works to give the President just enough power to govern the nation without so much he forgets his position as a servant of the people.

The word president can also have a personal application, as in who presides over your life? Are you in control, making all your own decisions and always calling the shots? If you are, you may have discovered it's a job too big for you to handle. The same God who knew what was best for Israel knows what is best for you.

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