As believers in God’s church, we love to work with leaders who love God heart, mind, and soul. We love to hear what God has said to them because we feel that if God chose them to lead us, they must have an “inside tract” to God. We respect and admire their tenacity in pray and subsequent obedience to God. We long to hear what God has to say from them. We long for Godly people to be our example of faith and trust. We watch them and want to be like them in the ways they follow Jesus. But when we see red flags of disobedience, “shooting from the hip” in decision making with God, or watch them allow obvious sins be ignored, what do we do?
“Whether we read secular or sacred history, we soon discover that people become like their leaders. The same people who applauded Solomon when he built the temple also applauded Jeroboam when he set up the golden calves and instituted a new religion. One of the most difficult tasks of Christian leaders today is to keep our churches true to the Word of God so that people don’t follow every religious celebrity whose ideas run contrary to Scripture. Apparently being popular and being “successful” are more important today than being faithful.” –Warren Wiersbe
Ezekiel 19, The Message
A Story of Two Lions
19 1-4 Sing the blues over the princes of Israel. Say:
What a lioness was your mother
She crouched in a pride of young lions.
Her cubs grew large.
She reared one of her cubs to maturity,
a robust young lion.
He learned to hunt.
He ate men.
Nations sounded the alarm.
He was caught in a trap.
They took him with hooks
and dragged him to Egypt.
5-9 When the lioness saw she was luckless,
that her hope for that cub was gone,
She took her other cub
and made him a strong young lion.
He prowled with the lions,
a robust young lion.
He learned to hunt.
He ate men.
He rampaged through their defenses,
left their cities in ruins.
The country and everyone in it
was terrorized by the roars of the lion.
The nations got together to hunt him.
Everyone joined the hunt.
They set out their traps
and caught him.
They put a wooden collar on him
and took him to the king of Babylon.
No more would that voice be heard
disturbing the peace in the mountains of Israel!
10-14 Here’s another way to put it:
Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard,
transplanted alongside streams of water,
Luxurious in branches and grapes
because of the ample water.
It grew sturdy branches
fit to be carved into a royal scepter.
It grew high, reaching into the clouds.
Its branches filled the horizon,
and everyone could see it.
Then it was ripped up in a rage
and thrown to the ground.
The hot east wind shriveled it up
and stripped its fruit.
The sturdy branches dried out,
fit for nothing but kindling.
Now it’s a stick stuck out in the desert,
a bare stick in a desert of death,
Good for nothing but making fires,
campfires in the desert.
Not a hint now of those sturdy branches
fit for use as a royal scepter!
(This is a sad song, a text for singing the blues.)
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
This is a story of prose about leaders who stopped listening to God. While Ezekiel clearly stated that individual Jews were responsible for their own sins, their leaders had also led them astray because they had rebelled against God. Jeremiah had told the kings of Judah to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar because he was God’s chosen servant to chasten Israel, but they had refused to obey.
Yes, “leaders are only human”, we say to give them a break or an excuse for sins. But these humans, called of God, are held responsible for what God tells them to be and do. Our calling from God as leaders is beyond human. We think beyond ourselves to more of what God wants for we are now in God’s service. It does not mean we are “sinless”, only Jesus was, is sinless; but we are to “sin less” because we have said yes to Jesus!
Leaders serve—to become like Christ in every way. Serving, which is the mind of Christ that we are to imitate, develops as we serve. We lay down what we want or what we think should have or what we think should be done for God’s will (what we do) and His wisdom (how we do it). And leadership friends, please understand this next statement: We do what He says because He has entrusted us with carrying His message of salvation to a war-torn, battle weary, desperate world in need of a Savior. This is our mission from God. This is our bottom line, our heart’s burning desire, our reason for living and leading!
The message God has given us is to know Him first for ourselves because we cannot tell others what we, ourselves, do not know and live. God calls us to tell others the “secret” as Paul explains as our Hope of glory! And what is the “secret”? Christ IN us! We know that Jesus coming to live in our being changes everything about who we are as a human. Jesus takes us beyond human birth and growth to the care and nurturing of the Divine after rebirth into His Kingdom thinking and behaving!
“God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Colossians 1:25-27, NLT
When leaders go astray…pray for them. Don’t follow them, but pray for their return to all that is God. When leaders turn from God to their own devices, all are affected. Pray for those who followed them to turn back to see Jesus and follow the truth of living in His ways. (See Matthew 5-8 for growing in the way Jesus taught.)
“He(Jesus) is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:28-29, NIV
You teach us that disobedience does not go well for us as your servant leaders. People are watching, looking for signs of hope and assurance that who we say we follow is really real to us. I do believe in you. I believe you live in me. I will no longer fall back to the excuse, “I’m only human”, for you are in me, divinely maturing me as your child fit for your Kingdom. I’m yours, Lord, everything I am and everything I’m not, for you to work out your salvation in me. I’m not there yet, but you know that.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen