July 18, 2017 • Life for Leaders
At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
Hezekiah was one of the most pious and faithful kings of Judah. Chapters 37 and 38 of Isaiah testify to his exemplary trust in the Lord. But then, in Isaiah 39, we see some of Hezekiah’s weaknesses: his susceptibility to flattery and his pride over his possessions. When Babylonian officials offered their best wishes to Hezekiah, he was thrilled to show them all of “his” treasures. Apparently he didn’t stop to think of the dangers inherent in a relationship with Babylon, or the risks involved in displaying the royal treasures to those who might seize them. Instead, Hezekiah was flattered by the visit of the Babylonian envoys and he proudly displayed his exceptional wealth.
Soon thereafter, the word of the Lord came to Hezekiah through Isaiah: “The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD” (39:6). Moreover, even some of Hezekiah’s descendants will be carried off to Babylon in order to serve the king of Babylon as his eunuchs (39:7). Indeed, this happened about a hundred years later.
Hezekiah was manipulated by flattery and fell prey to pride. Like any other human being, he had his weaknesses, and these were costly, not only to him, but also to his people. Our leadership whether in our jobs or families, whether in our churches or communities, can also be compromised by our weaknesses.
Yet if we are aware of them, we can make sure they won’t wreak havoc in our lives. Perhaps we can ask close friends to hold us accountable. Or we might make sure that a colleague has strengths that balance out our weaknesses. We might be able to establish systems in our workplace that keep our weaknesses in check. Or, we might hire a coach to help us learn to overcome our weaknesses. An honest appraisal of our strong and weak suits will enable us to lead with effectiveness and faithfulness to God.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What are your strengths as a leader?
What are your weaknesses?
What have you done to minimize the impact of your weaknesses?
What might you do to make sure that your weaknesses don’t injure your organization, your family, and your own effectiveness as a leader?
Gracious God, even as Hezekiah’s leadership was hurt by his weaknesses, so it can be with me. This is especially true if I try to pretend that I don’t have any. So, first of all, I pray that you will help me to see myself clearly. In particular, show me where I am weak, and how these weaknesses could hamper my leadership.
If my failings are sinful, may I confess them, receiving your forgiveness. Then, by your Spirit, help me to live rightly, with new freedom from sin.
If my weak spots are a matter of inability, help me to surround myself with people who are strong where I am weak. May I follow their leadership in contexts where I need their help.
Teach me, Lord, to listen, not only to you, but also to those in my life who can help me to see myself truly and to keep my weaknesses from doing damage. May I risk the vulnerability of true community; so that I might be the leader you have called me to be. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Wise Worker is Modest (Proverbs)
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.