Monday, March 8, 2021 11:40 PM

GIVE US A LEADER

Monday, March 8, 2021 11:40 PM
Monday, March 8, 2021 11:40 PM

Why do we seek to find a leader, someone who enables us to be ourselves and accomplish our desires? Or why do we seek to be a leader, a person who strives to have others follow us?

It can be someone who will solve our problems, meet our needs, free us from struggles, make us successful, resolve our problems, make life what we want it to be. That’s what a leader does, you know. A leader is a person who releases us to gain all that we want to accomplish and remove everything that holds us back. A leader arranges our situations, so we are free to live in peace, to be effective and fruitful, to be what we want to be, to live the way we want to live, and who never lets anything hold us back. You see, a leader is someone who wants everything the way we want life to be and who enables us to achieve our deepest desires. That’s what a lot of us think a leader does.

Many, perhaps even most, think that a leader turns the rugged forest of life into the smooth fields of opportunity and gives them in a smooth and easy form, so the followers have only to live them and all is well. That’s what the people of tribe of Joseph wanted in ancient Israel (Joshua 16:16-20). They desired to have them already done and take cared of so all they had to do was move in and take over. They didn’t even want to have to trust God to face resistance or earn their ownership; they didn’t want to have to resist those who were opposed to them or who were stronger than they were or smarter than they were or cleverer than they were. They wanted everything handed over to them. Leaders simply don’t work that way most of the time. Oh, they may at times, but very often they don’t because they can’t. They may have to plan, to negotiate, to make arrangements, to earn the opportunity, and then to hold on to the decision and even to face resistance. That’s leadership, and there’s no denying it. That spirit is at the very heart of leadership.

On the other hand, we may want to be in charge, the one who makes the decisions, gets others to do what we tell him or her to do and have us act without hesitation or protest or opposition. Just do it—and do it right! Which is our way, or course. We want to have followers because we’re the leader. What a great life that is. No questions, no hesitation, no resistance, no doubt, just do it. Listen and do it because I am the leader.

Period!

The problem is Jesus is not like that. In fact, Jesus is exactly the opposite of that. He is righteous, holy, forgiving, radically different, totally unlike us. He is kind, patient, long suffering, faithfully, clear, demanding, correcting, firm, demanding of us—all the things we don’t want to have or be. That’s the reason why we struggle so much to follow Him. We want to follow Him, but we struggle greatly when we discover what it means to be His follower, when we realize that it really means we follow Him and that means we trust Him to do what He wants us to do by doing He wants to do through us! Leadership means followership.

Either way we say I want a leader or I want to be the leader,  yet sooner or later we’ll discover that we have to face the reality of what this means for us: we will have to face our key issue, our hearts.

That’s exactly what Samul, God’s leader discovered when at God’s direction he came to Jesse to choose a man for Israel as a result of Saul’s failure. Saul was once God’s choice to follow as Israel’s leader but he failed, and God had chosen another man to be the country’s leader. So Samuel, God’s man to anoint His new leader for His people, was sent to the family of Jesse in the town of Bethlehem to anoint His new man, one of Jesse’s sons. Jesse’s oldest son was strong, well-built, handsome, obviously the right man, but God said no. The man looked great on the outside, but God looked at the inside for His kind of leader. As Samuel discovered,

. . . man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).

It’s not what impresses us about the appearance or the skills or the gifts or the impression of a man or woman that makes someone a leader, but what’s in the heart, what we can’t see but God can and what He will make known when the time is right. So all of Jesse’s men met each of the qualified men he had for leadership but none of these men were qualified to be His kind of leaders, a reality they discovered when he went to meet them. They did not see the men protect the sheep from the wolves or the bears nor  sing the psalms or write the messages or know what any of them cried out from their hearts, but God could, and that’s what God said made him the leader He would grow Him into and deliver His people as a true leader.

He wanted them to be true leaders, protectors of those who had to take great risks for His sheep, who had to provide for water, give them nights of sleep and rest at night, guide them through times of peace and calm, take them through rough water to calm waters—provide of the care for sheep in seasons of provision of harmony. David knew these demands, the Father saw all of this in a very special way, and that’s what mattered to Him.

David saw all of this as a holy calling to leadership from God for His purposes and only His kind of man can carry this out. He wants His leaders—men and women—to carry it out in the lives of their followers in order to make a difference in their influence as leaders. The point is that they need to make a difference fulfilling His purposes the same way He is forming in them, so they become His kind of leaders. You have to understand that being the great successes you strive to be is not nearly as important to God and His kingdom as the actual person you become. The problem is that you treat the means as the end, success as the aim rather than the process to the aim. The Father wants our role as leaders to be the process to becoming like Christ rather than the purpose that the Father has for us. He wants us to grow in His image, not only to create what we do. What we do is His means; becoming like Christ is His end. Thus being a leader it is far more important to become the kind of person He wants you to be than to do what you think makes you famous or successful. Both are essential, and we must pursue both, but many of us strive to avoid the price we must pay to accomplish God’s purpose. God doesn’t.

While He made us to do the things He wants us to do, He made us to be men and women in His image, to serve as His leaders, to make a difference for Him. This is why our hearts are the vital reality of our being, the key to our minds and our hands. This is why Jesus came to transform our hearts, not merely to make us brilliant and talented. This is why who we are is the key to what we do as leaders.

This is why man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart is the vital reality of being a leader and following a leader. Don’t ever forget it!

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