Saturday, July 26, 2008

Strong Leadership Is Not Enough

July 12, 2008

There are times in my life where I feel passionate to be a better leader. Not just to be a leader of my family, or even at my job, but in a much grander way. I have often thought my life would be more fulfilled if I leave this world having been known as a great leader. Perhaps I’d even like to be famous. My upbringing, my education, and my workplace have all taught me to stretch myself, tap my gifts, and lead. And sometimes, I have felt that this would be enough.

The book of 1 Chronicles tells of the descendants and often the fate of the various tribes of Israel. From 1 Chronicles 5:23-26:

“The people of the half-tribe of Manasseh were numerous; they settled in the land from Bashan to Baal Hermon, that is, to Senir (Mount Hermon). These were the heads of their families: Epher, Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah and Jahdiel. They were brave warriors, famous men, and heads of their families. But they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria (that is, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria), who took the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh into exile. He took them to Halah, Habor, Hara and the river of Gozan, where they are to this day.”

These men clearly had greatness in their blood. They were brave, famous, and ultimately “heads of their families”. The Bible counsels us to seek this goal, does it not? Countless books, articles, and speakers tell us that the family will benefit from a strong father – but our society has been feminized to the point that this is now rare. Fathers have abandoned their godly role in the family for secular diversions – work, golf, material possessions, pornography, and simple “busyness”.

Still, we witness men today who have leadership in their character. These men know how to provide materially for their family, and they can defend their children when threatened. But the Bible makes it clear that there is more to living under God’s blessing than to be a strong leader. A leader must himself be led – and this leading must be from God. Good intentions without God’s direction seem semi-beneficial, but they ultimately lead to destruction. This is a great temptation in our culture today. We are inundated with “self-help” offerings, books that promote good time management principles, and methods to create wealth so our families can be comfortable. The very words – “self-help” – imply a humanistic approach, as if we can somehow save ourselves through better living.

In contrast, a godly man is broken before the Lord. He must realize that no amount of study, fellowship, or even prayer will heal the brokenness caused by sin. Our only healing comes through God’s grace – His willingness to forgive, His ability to instruct, and His leading are what we require. The admission that we are not able to save ourselves is a big step, and one that is not popular with the secular humanism that dominates our culture. In our broken society, the strongest men are the ones who are able to pick themselves up and find “inner strength” to gain success. God is looking for men who are first willing to admit brokenness, and then are willing to let God give the healing, strength, and direction.

A father can lead mightily…and still be lost. The men from Manasseh proved that. By replacing God with other gods, they deluded themselves into believing that they had achieved the goal. And the penalty of this oversight was not just having God ignore them. God decided to intervene directly and these great men were taken captive by an evil king for the rest of their lives. The Bible clearly tells how their captivity was a direct result of their unfaithfulness. It wasn’t due to any other cause, or a simple twist of fate. These men most assuredly thought their strength and leadership would be enough to save them from a bad end. And yet, God was able to lead them into lifelong captivity because they had ignored Him.

Could He do it again today?

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