July 25, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Isaiah 3:1-3 (NIV)
See now, the Lord, the LORD Almighty, is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support: all supplies of food and all supplies of water, the hero and the warrior, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter.
The leader who seeks to honor God will often face difficult choices. Should I lead in the way my culture or organization expects me to lead? Or should I lead in the way of Jesus?
In the passage immediately prior to Isaiah 3:1-3, the prophet had urged the Israelites not to put too much trust in “mere humans” (Isaiah 2:22). By relying on unreliable people too much, rather than on the Lord and those faithful to him, the children of God had gotten themselves into a mess of immorality, injustice, and rebellion against God. Therefore, God was about to judge his people. Part of this judgment involved removing from them all the things they had relied on rather than the Lord himself, including multiple levels and facets of leadership.
Was it wrong for Israel to have leaders or to follow them? No. God had in fact given judges, prophets, kings, and others to his people. But the people and their leaders had been unfaithful in many ways. For one thing, they had followed the leadership of “diviners” and “clever-enchanters,” pagans who should not have been given authority in Israel. But even more troublesome was the unfaithfulness of Israel’s anointed leaders. Because they rejected the Lord and his ways, because they trusted in their own insights rather than divine wisdom, these leaders had not been reliable. In fact, they had led the people away from God.
Faithful and fruitful leadership begins with following God’s own leadership, with acknowledging God’s authority and honoring God’s truth. When we submit to the Lord, when we seek his ways and strive to honor him in all we do, then our leadership will be worthy of following. Admittedly, it can be hard to lead in godly ways when you’re in institutions or relationships that pull you away from the Lord. Yet your primary calling as a kingdom leader is to follow the lead of the King of kings. The true leader begins by being a true follower of God.
You may be in a position of recognized leadership in your workplace, church, or community. Or your leadership may be less obvious. But wherever you have the opportunity to influence people, your influence should be built on the foundation of seeking and serving God. In our world today, as in the world of Isaiah, often this means saying “No” to cultural assumptions about leadership, choosing instead to model yourself on the servant leadership of Jesus.
Can you think of examples of leadership that honors God? Who in church or business or government or education models truly godly leadership?
In your leadership, how do you seek and follow the Lord? Can you think of decisions you have made that are an expression of your Christian commitment?
If a person is a leader of a secular organization, how can that person be faithful as a leader of the organization and a follower of the Lord?
Wherever you have influence, choose this week to do something quite intentionally as a way of honoring God.
Gracious God, as we read this passage, we’re reminded that you have raised us up as leaders for your purposes. Our leadership, if it is going to be effective, begins with our submission to you. So, today, we offer you our work, our dreams, our relationships, our family, our church involvement, and our citizenship. May our leadership be steeped in your wisdom, always guided by your Spirit. When we’re lured away from you by self-interest or cultural trends, help us to remain tethered to you and your truth. May your kingdom be our vision. And may you always be our Lord, our King, our passion. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Exploitation and Marginalization (Isaiah 3ff.)
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.