Ezekiel 45:7 – 46:18
God is better at taking care of those in positions of authority than those individuals are at taking care of themselves. As God protects those in authority, he also entrusts them to wield their power responsibly. He commands them to avoid violence and oppression, to not evict, to have just weights and measures, and to celebrate with the people.
A leader is also expected to lead the way in offering sacrifices to God. The people follow the leader in offering those same sacrifices. But I think there is a slight nuance between the one in authority and the leader as it pertains to who is worth following.
I’m reading this book by Pete Scazzero called The Emotionally Healthy Leader, and I find it both helpful and challenging. What I love about the book is the direction it takes in exposing our interior life to God. It calls us to be self-aware and to find our life in relationship with God. Scazzero continually points to the time we spend with God as the source of health in our leadership. What makes any spiritual leader in the Church worth following is their relationship with God the Father.
I feel that one way to tell if someone is worth following is to see who they have chosen to follow. I don’t feel like the same can be said of someone put in a position of authority. I don’t think you can judge someone’s authority based on the rules they follow because I’m not sure how often those in power follow their own rules. Which leads me to my point of this particular piece: power is not the measuring stick for leadership. Helping others get where they are going is what it means to lead.
I’m a decent follower, I’m a better follower when I have clear instruction, expectation, and affirmation. I think those three tracks illuminate our path, and I think Jesus himself directs his people with those tools.
As far as personal leadership goes, I’m a squanderer when it comes to positions and titles. In fact, my ministry career is lackluster. But at the end of the day, unless I take responsibility for my own calling, it doesn’t matter how much encouragement I receive or which opportunities are before me, I must believe in Christ in me. I must believe that God empowers and is pleased with my identity.
To be both a leader and follower of Christ, trust is foundational. It’s trusting that my control is limited but my obedience is possible. Furthermore, we need the confidence that our obedience is the demonstration of our love and that this will fill us with a joy that provides us with real freedom.
A Present Observation
Which is why the current state of leadership not just on a national level but on an organizational level is disheartening. Confident obedience is lacking and often non-existent in the way most places and people lead, including in government.
I assure you though, the solution is not protests, those may lead to legislation but they don’t lead to cleansing the heart from hatred. Dark fire still rages in the hearts of humanity and that can only be quenched by an encounter with love and forgiveness. Forgiving the oppressor, that is real power. Calling out the wrong for what it is, and forgiving while expecting the potential in people to set things right. If it starts and then stops at a protest, all we’ve done is express anger, possibly acting out of our own prejudices and assumptions.
How do we enter?
I love Ezekiel 46:10 “When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out.” This verse is power to the max for leaders that lead in love. It is a picture of a leader, who as the one in authority, chooses to follow the people. He hears their cry and rather than spinning their story, he walks with them responding to their movement. We need presidents, politicians, pastors, CEO’s who will kneel with kneeling, who will confess and ask for forgiveness for ways they have objectified others, who will have honest compassionate corrective conversations.
We enter in by giving up something. Usually, it is what we perceive to be our power or our source of strength outside of God. We sacrifice for God and for one another. Sacrifice becomes part of us. But even more, mercy becomes part of the way we live. Part of this mercy is giving up the sense we are owed something.
Furthermore, leaders must learn to pass on to their children what is theirs, not what belongs to someone else. They don’t leverage their situation to bolster their family wealth at the expense of other’s suffering. Those leaders also willingly subject themselves to being held accountable to this standard. They enter through surrender because they recognize that victory in Christ is demonstrated through loving both friend and enemy.
We enter in and are governed by the God who gave of Himself. A God who objectified no one and knows that in creation is a unique beauty, that each individual is fearfully and wonderfully made. A God who gave His only begotten Son so that we might be called sons and daughters. A God who delights in mercy and is saddened by judgment. That’s the leader worth following and thankfully, that’s the one we have.