29 May What Do We Recognize In Leadership?
We often hear people say leaders emerge in a crisis. And incompetent leaders are also shown through a crisis also. Now, I believe without a doubt that the COVID-19 has sparked such a view. Why? Because in a crisis, people are filled with fears, uncertainty, confusion, and they want to identify the leader who could lead them out of it. And I am amazed to read news reports that say women made such good leaders during COVID-19, like the German chancellor, or the Taiwan president, or the New Zealand Prime minister. And then people start concluding that women leaders are less egoistic, they have more self-awareness and they are more willing to communicate. Now, I don’t mean to suggest anything chauvinistic here. Women are wise and capable in general. But it seems that with a crisis, the World is so fast to create its own truths about women’s leadership. Yet is that what the Bible has affirmed? And when America failed to curb the spread of the COVID-19, you have the former President of the United States coming out to tell young people to do what they think is right, and to listen to the truths inside them. Now, I am not advocating any form of political views here, but such suggestions about everyone possessing their own truths just frightens me. What I can foresee is that a global crisis can propel a fallen world into the peak of humanism. It tells everyone in the World, “Hey, you got what is in you to change the World. You possess truths in you. If you are certain about what you believe in, no one can say you’re wrong”. Now, is that really true? I’m afraid with that kind of audacity, we are paving the way for the humanist. We are turning the World to look for a savior in this world rather than one from above.
Now, let’s come back to what most of us believe about “crisis showing the quality of leadership”, it sounds right. isn’t it? I made no objection to that either, but is that the way we recognize leadership primarily? Now let’s for a moment to think through what kind of leaders are we hoping for? Are we hoping for charismatic and dynamic leaders? Are we recognizing leaders who are positive, talented, resolute and who knows how to encourage people? Now of course, I believe these are good attributes a leader should possess. But my dear brethren, let’s ask some good questions here. Do you think Moses has any of those positive attributes? He was so passive and reluctant when God called him to leadership, remember? Does Joshua in any way show resolute leadership in a crisis? The Bible says he tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground when he was defeated in the battle against the city of Ai. Some might think: “shouldn’t he be more composed?” And even the renowned King David, he was anointed as King when he was merely a teenager, a shepherd boy. I mean does he show any sort of leadership quality then? But it’s amazing to note how God chooses leaders in His own way.
Now, what I am saying is we could have been too enchanted with worldly leadership, isn’t it? Especially in a crisis, we are very quick to recognize men as leaders and identify with secular leadership qualities. So we go around looking for people with worldly leadership, people who can perform under pressure, people who deliver KPIs, people who can think ahead and so on. Now that’s what the World taught us, isn’t it? And my brethren, you could have fallen into another trap. Now, this is shown in the example of King Saul. We know how King Saul departed from God, and how he compromised God’s instruction for his own benefit. And the Bible says in <1 Sam 14:52>: All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service. I mean you could see yes, Saul was a very strategic leader, he knew how to recruit capable men, but he misses the most important element, i.e. to be a King after God’s own heart. He exalted men’s condition more than what God look out for. He believes men’s talents and capability more than what God value most, i.e. obedience. But you may ask: Why did Saul end up as King? Now, it all started with how Israel (the people of God) are looking for in leadership. It’s shown clearly in <1 Samuel 8:6-7>:
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.
Now, Israel may have a lot of reasons in asking for a King. It could be: “Well, they don’t think an old Samuel could lead them further. Or they don’t fancy Samuel’s children either. Or they could be so envious of what kind of dynamic leadership qualities the gentile kings had. But the primary reason is they have rejected God as their King. They don’t fancy God’s kind of leadership. Neither do they want God’s decision in appointing judges over them. They want someone whom they could idolize, whom they could put their hopes in. Someone who is visible, and who could help them realize their dreams. They rejected God. And with that kind of desire, God give them Saul, someone who is tall and dynamic, someone who looks like a king and fits the bill. And we know how disappointing Saul was in the end. So that is the end result of rejecting God’s kingship over them.
And when you see God appointed Kings, he does it out of his sovereignty. He is the one who established leadership. He is the One who chooses leaders. He chooses Moses not because Moses has any leader’s qualities, but God saw his humility and chose him to lead Israel. Moses was a man who was thoroughly humble before God, and he burned with anger when Israel worshipped the golden calf, unlike Aaron who gave into the request of the Israelites. God chose Joshua who tore his clothes and fell facedown before the Lord when Israel was defeated in the war. And he obediently purged the sin and evil out from Israel when he was told to. He did not give in to human sentiments. He did not think twice about listening to God. And you know God chose David when he was just a young man. For that young man has a heart that is far superior than the bravery of King Saul. He is one who is after God’s own heart.
I mean of course these chosen leaders grew and develop into great men, with great leadership qualities. But they didn’t start out with those attributes at first. So I like all of us to know how wrong we could be when we are looking for people with secular leadership qualities to start with. Now, my brethren. If you find someone who is so skilled with secular talents and capabilities to lead you and the church, you are eventually going to regret it for the same reasons. So if you are going to trust someone who says: “Believe in yourself, believe in the truths inside your heart, believe in your capabilities”, now I would advise you to be cautious. No one who trust in himself can lead you far in any way.
Honestly, I would rather entrust myself to someone who honor God and who abide to His truth. If you are looking for leaders, look hard, look beyond their personality and capability. Does he lead by God’s truth, or by the clever ways of men? If you submit yourself to the right leadership, you and your future will be secured.