Seven Days of Devotion
The Weekly Word is a Collection of Devotionals to be read on the Day Listed and presented freely as a service to and for the Body of Christ and Believers throughout the World that We may Hear God Speak to us as the Spirit of God gives us ears to hear and eyes to see what God would have for us daily in relationship to Him.
Are you being asked to lead in changing situations?Written by Barry-Werner
Effective leaders adapt their leadership to their followers’ needs. Read Ezekiel 3:8-9.
In Ezekiel chapter two and the early part of chapter three, God told Ezekiel that the people he was being sent to would not listen to his words. Even though they spoke the same language and had clear understanding of his examples because of a common background, their hearts were hard and they did not want to hear from Ezekiel because they did not want to hear from God. For this reason God told Ezekiel that he was preparing him to lead in this specific leadership situation by making him unyielding and as hard as the people he was asked to lead.
Effective Christian leaders allow God to shape them into the kind of leader they need to be to meet the needs of their team in a specific situation. They must maintain godly character and God-honoring core values but they must not get stuck on one style of leadership or mode of operation. Effective leaders adapt their leadership to meet the needs of their team. There are elements that help a leader evaluate the type of leadership they must apply for the existing situation:
- Is the team losing momentum, static, or making forward progress?
- What is the team’s attitude? Are they open to change? Do they want to set checkpoints and achieve milestones or is there resistance, fear of failure or maybe even fear of success?
- Will the team take instruction based on positional authority or do they resist and mistrust positional authority?
- Is the team the right team? Do they have the gifts and skills needed to accomplish the organization’s goals?
- How urgent is change? Is there some time to evaluate the situation and team or does the situation require an “instant” fix to save the organization?• Does the organization possess the resources to support a highly efficient team or does infrastructure need to be built along with the team’s growth?• Am I the right leader for the job?
Have you been given a new assignment or have the organization’s goals changed creating a new situation in which you are being asked to lead? Situational leadership is not easy. It demands a leader’s attention to evaluate the situation and the team’s conditions. Wise leaders know that when they adapt their leadership to meet the situation in which God has placed them, it will be time well invested and time that will pay dividends.
Can you answer your team’s questions about the vision?
An effective leader uses whatever tools are at their disposal to communicate vision to their team. Read Ezekiel 4 and 5.
Ezekiel’s job was clear. Make the Jewish people who were living in captivity in Babylon aware that God had additional punishment in store for their friends and family still living in Jerusalem. He had to dash their hopes of returning and help them understand why all this was happening.
Ezekiel’s unusual actions were probably the talk of the entire population. He communicated God’s message for the future of Jerusalem and a message of what life in Jerusalem would be like under a Babylonian siege through physical actions and demonstrations. When dialog and word pictures fail a leader may have to live out the vision to help communicate it clearly and effectively to their team.
True visionary leaders often see elements that are a bit overwhelming to their teammates. This feeling of weakness generally turns out to be a strength. If the team does not at least initially feel they are in over their heads there may be no spark of excitement, no challenge to push beyond the status quo.
Wise leaders help their team accept the overwhelming vision by answering a few questions:
- Who will ultimately accept responsibility to complete the vision?
- Is there some evidence that the vision is legitimate? You need to help the team overcome their skepticism.
- What is the hope that the project can succeed? People have seen too many projects that simply turned out to be disappointing and embarrassing. People eagerly desire to invest their time and effort in a successful venture.
- Can the team find enough belief in the leader? If there is a track record of one failed over-the-top vision after another it will be difficult to communicate a new vision to the team.
- Will the team’s legitimate concerns be addressed? When a concern requires faith and trust address it with honesty so the team knows what they are getting into.
- Can you give the team a reason to get past their doubts? Allow them to see the ultimate reward.
Wise leaders find ways to communicate vision. Sometimes that is straight forward and other times, as it was with Ezekiel, it may take extraordinary methods.
Are you prepared to be judged for your ethical standards?
God deals with leaders based on the standard they use to deal with others. Read Ezekiel 7:27.
As Ezekiel gave God’s word in detail concerning the demise of Jerusalem to the Jewish people living in Babylon, he had a special message for the leaders. He stated in verse 27, “I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them.”
What a principle to encourage every leader to lead with high God-honoring standards and ethical character. God isn’t impressed by a leader’s highly developed skills if that same leader has defective character. Only through their character can a leader participate in God’s divine nature and escape corruption.
This is such an important principle that when my son graduated from high school and had an opportunity for a football scholarship at one or more impressive schools, my advice to him was to evaluate a school for three elements in this order:
- Look for a God-honoring environment on the campus.
- Look for a school that has quality academics.
- Look for a quality athletic program.
The natural temptation for a student athlete is to look at the athletics first, the academics second and the school’s “character” environment third (maybe fourth if you throw cheerleaders in the mix). I have met individuals that graduated from Ivy League schools with impressive credentials and great knowledge and skills whose lives were a mess from lifestyle problems developed during their college years. These leaders are setting themselves up for a harsh judgment according to verse 27.
Have you functioned at a lower moral and ethical standard than you want to be judged by when you stand before the Lord? Through Ezekiel, God makes it abundantly clear that the leaders will be judged according to their conduct and by their own standards. Wise leaders will learn from Ezekiel’s words to the Jewish people living in Babylon.
Matthew 7:2 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
In your heart where only you know you, do you sense that you lack integrity?
A leader without integrity is a dangerous person. Read Ezekiel 8.
God had directed Ezekiel to prophesy stern judgments on Jerusalem. In Chapter eight he was transported to Jerusalem in visions from God and shown the reason for the judgments. God showed Ezekiel scene after scene of idol worship in the temple built to worship Him and Him alone. In the vision, within the temple itself, Ezekiel saw people worshiping a statue of Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of fertility that King Josiah had removed 30 years earlier, he saw crawly things that reflected Egyptian influence, Tammuz a Babylonian fertility god, people worshiping the sun and in verses 12 and 13 he saw 70 elders each worshiping at the shrine of his own idol.
It is interesting that in Ezekiel’s vision he saw leaders (elders) worshiping their idol in the darkness. God was showing Ezekiel that the leaders demonstrated one behavior in the daylight when the people of Jerusalem observed them but demonstrated another behavior in private. God wanted Ezekiel to communicate to his countrymen that by living double lives these leaders lacked the integrity demanded by God to serve as His leader. A leader (an elder in Ezekiel’s case) who is convinced that God does not see their behavior at all times is a dangerous person.
Just how important is integrity to leadership? Richard Baxter, an English “Pastor to Pastors” on page 63 of the book The Reformed Pastor said, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine, and lest you lay such stumbling-blocks before the blind, as may be the occasion of their ruin; lest you unsay with your lives, what you say with your tongues; and be the greatest hinderers of the success of your own labors…He that means as he speaks, will surely do as he speaks.”
Every leader has an opportunity to demonstrate consistent behavior that supports their beliefs or they can demonstrate multiple behaviors that call their true beliefs into question. All leaders will blow it from time to time but that is not what Richard Baxter or Ezekiel is talking about in their warning to leaders. They are pointing to the conscious, deliberate living out of two or more value systems that contradict each other. They are talking about leaders who live dual standards for personal gain or to specifically make people believe they are someone they are not. Through Ezekiel God made it known that He will judge leaders for lacking integrity.
In that inner-hidden-deeper-secret part of your heart where only you know you, do you sense that you lack integrity? Do you sense that if pressured enough or given the right reward that you might cave in to behavior that does not honor God? The wise leader will take those feelings to God immediately and seek truth from the Bible to become a leader of integrity that will honor God in all parts of his leadership.
Do you know the values that drive your actions?
Leaders must continually address the values and viewpoints that drive their behavior. Read Ezekiel 11:1-13.
In chapter 10 God carried Ezekiel to Jerusalem in his spirit and showed him that He had withdrawn His spirit and glory from the temple. As chapter 11 begins God carried Ezekiel in spirit to a specific temple gate and allowed him to see 25 leaders who were discussing the economic opportunity that would be available to them when the Babylonian siege ended. They had totally missed the point of God’s discipline of the people living in Jerusalem and were planning to take advantage of the poor once things were back to normal. A very revealing statement that should be considered by ever leader is when God said, “I know what is going through your mind.”
When a leader is evaluated by God it is not only their actions but the values and heart intent behind the actions that are of concern. God judges a leader’s actions by the intent of the heart that controls the actions. Developing effective leadership does not only involve learning new information and skills but implementing that new information through a God-honoring value system that becomes God-honoring behavior. The following are just a few of the God-honoring heart characteristics Christian leaders should strive for daily:
- A growing intimacy with God
- A compassionate love and respect for people
- A strong Biblical identity
- A humble servant’s heart
- A hunger for Biblical values and priorities
- A decision-making process that centers around godly principles
The above list is not exhaustive but only establishes a pattern for a leader to build a more complete list. A leader must have leadership skills but in the process of developing those skills they should remember that when skills are developed daily in an environment of the above heart characteristics a leader’s actions will honor God. These core values will become the foundation that drives their actions. Wise leaders know that when God measures the greatness of a leader, He measures the heart behind the actions not the knowledge in their head that developed the skill.
Do you have trouble getting your vision brought to reality?
Effective leaders do more than talk about vision, they develop an implementation strategy and include action steps. Read Ezekiel 12:21-28.
In the early part of chapter 12 God instructed Ezekiel to pack his belongings and dig through the wall at dusk as a symbolic act for his fellow Jews in exile. This demonstration was to show the acts King Zedekiah would soon take in Jerusalem to escape capture by the Babylonians. The people responded with a proverb spoken often among the Jews, “The days go by and every vision comes to nothing.” God told Ezekiel to tell the people that He would put an end to this proverb “…and they will no longer quote it in Israel.”
Our teams are no different than the Jewish people hearing the prophecy from Ezekiel. They too often hear talk of what can or will happen and too seldom see the action steps that start the process. Visions are simply talk unless someone puts feet to them. Visions lose their strength without action to support them. Effective leaders always communicate both the vision and the steps to its implementation.
I am just old enough to remember when the President of the United States told the nation we would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Today that doesn’t seem like an outrageous statement but back in the day, nothing like that had ever been done or even considered. Who could imagine that it could happen or think of how to implement such a thing? There are a few common sense steps to creating implementation strategies for even the wildest vision:
- Start with prayer seeking God’s wisdom.
- Break the vision down into as many parts as you can think of in this early stage.
- Prioritize the parts. This is not an exact science but it is reasonably easy to know those elements that need to happen at the start of the project i.e. clarifying the vision and getting it in clear language, basic research, estimating the resources to start, etc.
- Establish some level of leadership to get the processes started.
- Create some timelines, checkpoints, deadlines, and celebrations to keep the team accountable and motivated.
- Make sure your team knows these early decisions must be flexible.
Have you had trouble getting a vision brought to reality? Have you tried numerous times to get your team excited about a vision but can’t overcome their skepticism? Wise leaders help their team catch the vision by taking some initial steps to get feet under the vision. Effective leaders make it clear that these are preliminary steps and not the final strategy. They help their team understand that these preliminary steps are designed to start some forward momentum. These early steps help the team’s belief level and become a bridge to the next level strategy.
Do you lead in every situation with integrity?
When a leader is less than truthful it most often leads to other half-truths or outright lies to cover the first indiscretion. Read Ezekiel 13:1-16.
God commanded Ezekiel to prophecy against those who were false prophets in Israel. These religious leaders claimed they had heard from God and convinced the people they were speaking truth when they were simply speaking out of their own imagination for their own benefit. Ezekiel called the lies a “flimsy wall,” and the cover-up he labeled “whitewash.” Ezekiel stated that any enterprise built on falsehood has shoddy workmanship and is not built with quality on a firm foundation. He flatly stated that their attempts to cover up the lack of quality were like a whitewash that would come off the first time it got wet.
Wise leaders seek to lead in every situation with integrity. Leaders who start down a path of lies need more lies to cover their lack of honesty and integrity. When a leader looks to the world’s value system as an acceptable standard they will soon be confused by self-interest, social conditions, the need for recognition and will slip to situational ethics. God is aware of a leader’s heart and demands the right behavior for the right reasons.
James 2:18 “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
Can be found here: