And now for another devotional from nature: taking point!
Sometimes it’s easy to recognize leaders. They go before us, set our course, step in with a helping hand, shepherd the lost, defend the hurting and hopeless. They sacrifice when need be.
The Bible offers insights on this. Titus 1:7-9 outlines the requirements of a godly leader: “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
That describes the open, deliberate leadership demonstrated by Moses and David. 1st Timothy 3:2 echoes this: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.”
But what of those leaders working behind the scenes, seeking influence through others?
Society often attributes such works to wrong or evil actions, and sometimes that’s true. Scripture offers many verses for discerning this, such as 1st John 4:1 — “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Jeremiah 3:15 offers another side of that coin in these words from God: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
Many good leaders may work from the background, to see something done without regard for attention or glory. The Bible encourages this. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,” Christ told his apostles, as recorded in Matthew 20:26. Paul echoed this in Philippians 2:3,4 — “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Indeed, this choice guided Christ’s ministry, as He noted in Mark 10:45 — “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Whatever role a leader takes, behind the scenes or out front, he or she is certain to encounter difficulties… some foreseen, many not. Scripture offers encouragements for believers beset this way. Isaiah 4:10 captures many of them in these words from God: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”