Leadership advice

“‘But you are not to be called “Rabbi”, for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth “father”, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Matthew‬ ‭23:8-12‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Jesus’s picture of leadership stands in stark contrast to worldly models of leadership that often promotes “brand” or “self” (unfortunately this has become the norm in modern society’s obsession with fame). In essence, a Godly leader intentionally puts God first in everything so that God gets the honour in all circumstances because He is the only One deserving of such honour. We can’t achieve anything of worth without Him enabling us. May God help us to have an honest and proper view of ourselves.

Biblical leadership is not about you

“Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” – ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:25-28‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

How do you lead? Do you spend more time thinking about

  • your vision and needs, or
  • the wellbeing of the people God has called you to lead?

May God help us find a Biblical balance.

The problem of fame

One of the most important values propogated by the media today is fame or self glorification. This is the complete opposite of what the Bible teaches. Jesus says “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew‬ ‭23:12‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬)

In Acts we read of Paul’s conversion. An important roleplayer in that account is Ananias. God gives him the “dangerous” job of praying for the man who has been persecuting the church fervently. Ananias decides to trust God despite his own misgivings and so become part of commissioning one of the most influential evangelists in history.

Interestingly, we don’t hear much of Ananias again. You wonder what might have happened if Ananias lived today. Would someone have published the memoirs of Ananias? Or perhaps produced a film of his life and highlighted his “significant” contribution to launching an influential man into his career?

A society built on Scriptural principles don’t look like that. This account illustrates the image Paul later uses to describe the church so well. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. … Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:12, 15-27‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬)

Not everyone could be a Paul. Someone had to be an Ananias, a person who listened to God and faithfully carried out God’s desires in order to release someone else to fulfil God’s calling for her or his life in God’s Kingdom for the glory of God and the expansion of His Kingdom.

Waiting on the Lord

“By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. Then God said to Noah, ‘Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.” Genesis‬ ‭8:13-16‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬ (Source: http://bible.com/113/gen.8.13-16.nivuk)

Even though Noah saw that the Earth looked ready for him, his family and the animals, he only left the ark when God told him to. You can imagine that he and his family must have been rather fed up with being confined for 6 months in a really small space. It required trust in God (and an enormous act of the will empowered by that trust) to wait on God despite the circumstances.

Am I willing to wait on God, even when everything looks ready for me to “embrace” different circumstances or a new opportunity? Later in the Bible we read that Saul made the mistake of not waiting on God’s timing when he decided to offer a sacrifice Samuel was ordained to make (before Israel was to go into battle). He got impatient as circumstances seemed to deteriorate and did the sacrifice himself because it seemed like the situation demanded action. He was condemned for his impulsive act.

God’s timing is not our timing. The Bible instructs us to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm‬ ‭37:7‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬ (Source: http://bible.com/113/psa.37.7.nivuk)

God’s leadership requirements and training

But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭17‬:‭16-20‬ NKJV)

The verses above are God’s law with regards to the appointment and rule of Israelite kings. Absolutely fascinating. When you remember this as you read through the history of the kings, your realise why the leaders and nation of Israel have struggled so much: they often did the exact opposite of God’s wishes.

I also believe that these verses are a great blueprint for Godly leadership. Definitely worth unpacking.

Isaiah 9:6

In Isaiah 9 we read,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The child is born – He is fully human

A son is given – He is a gift

The government will be on his shoulders – He reigns

Wonderful Counselor – not just any counselor … He is Wonderful

Mighty God – not just any god … He is Mighty

Everlasting Father – not just any father … He is Everlasting

Prince of Peace – not just any prince … He is the Prince of Peace

Genesis 50

Unfortunately we live in an age in which parents in the Western world are often either forgotten or not receiving the honor they deserve. Part of the problem might be a high divorce rate . . . children are often hurt most by divorce . . . I am not saying that other people’s actions excuse our decisions and actions but the pain other people cause us sometimes leads us to make selfish decisions.

The first thing that stands out from this passage is the love Joseph has for his father, and the honor he shows him when his earthly journey comes to an end. We know from studying Scripture that Jacob is not perfect, and Joseph and his brothers must know it too. I believe to honor Jacob as they are doing implies that they have chosen to remember the good of Jacob’s life, and they have chosen to respect their father. May the Lord enable us to forgive our parents if they have wronged us, and to show them the positional respect they deserve as our parents.

When I read Scripture about Joseph, the pages seem to paint the picture of a humble man of integrity. Joseph’s brothers’ reaction to their father’s death, fearing that Joseph may now have them killed for all the wrongs they have committed against him, show that he is also in a undisputed position of authority and power. I believe that Joseph is showing us the marks of a Godly leader, i.e. humility, integrity, and compassion. May the Lord equip us to be such leaders if He wants to use us in this way. The world is definitely in need of leaders that are not obsessed with power and money.

Joseph holds on and believe in God’s promises even though he didn’t see the fulfillment of them himself. He makes his family promise that they will take his remains with them when the Lord leads them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. We are waiting for Jesus’ return. Are you and I living as if it is a reality? What is our attitude towards God’s unfulfilled promises telling those who don’t Jesus? How is the fact that Jesus is coming again influencing our short-term and long-term decisions?