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.
An important part of a leader’s responsibility is to create structure and organization so their team knows how they fit into the big picture and why they do what they do.
Read Ezekiel 40-44.
In the 25th year of exile in Babylon, God appeared to Ezekiel and gave him a vision concerning the structure, organization and operation of the temple when the people returned to Jerusalem. God went into great detail as He described the order and organization that He designed into His temple. This, like many other scriptures, shows just how important structure and organization are in God’s design for leadership. Effective leaders create structure that enhances productivity and nurtures the emotional health of those they lead.
Too often leaders either operate without structure and organization or rigidly maintain an existing structure when the situation has changed. Leaders must never forget that while the look of structure can vary, the purpose is always to channel resources to meet the task and mission of the organization. With this in mind, no leader should assume once they have a structure that works that this structure will be permanent; rather good structure must change as resources and tasks ebb and flow.
Have you noticed your team is confused as to how they fit into the big picture? Are you experiencing consistent miscommunication that costs the organization money or time or frustration by having two or more people doing the same task? Is there a lack of harmony in your teams work relationships or the organizations social environment? These are all signs of lack of structure and organization. Wise leaders understand that structure must consistently change to address the methods by which resources flow through the organization to accomplish established goals, and when changes are made the team members need to understand their place in the revised structure.
Isaiah 32:8 “But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.”
Because a leader is godly doesn’t mean they have to be dogmatic and inflexible.
Read Daniel 1.
Daniel lived in Jerusalem and his family was part of the nobility in Judah. He was a teenager when Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, captured the city of Jerusalem for the second time. He was taken as an exile to Babylon along with King Jehoiakim of Judah and several thousand others. Nebuchadnezzar took them to teach Judah a lesson concerning rebellion against Babylon. When the captives arrived in Babylon, the guards determined that Daniel had a physical appearance and aptitude that qualified him for a special training program which had the potential to put him into the service of the king.
The young men that were part of this special training program were taught the language and literature of Babylon, given food from the king’s table and at some point would be tested by the king to determine if they excelled enough to serve in his court as an attendant or had the wisdom to be an advisor. Daniel had a problem; as a Jew he had been given specific diet restrictions in the laws of Moses and if he were to honor God he could not eat the food from the king’s table. Daniel appeared to be in a position that required him to be totally inflexible with the potential of it costing him his life or he could violate his core values and ignore his religious beliefs.
Business and religious leaders often find themselves in the same position as Daniel. Society demands a specific decision, action or behavior to fit into the established standards but that violate Biblical standards. These times call for a special kind of wisdom and conflict management. Leaders can learn from Daniel that even with his life on the line he found a way to live by his core truths and follow God without violating the spirit of the training program. Daniel looked past the legalistic requirement of the program to the intent of the requirement. The intent was to have physically strong, healthy trainees to present to the king and Daniel sought an exception to the legalistic rules only if he met the program’s goals. He gave those in charge a viable option that allowed flexibility.
Daniel became an effective leader in the foreign courts of Babylon because he faithfully followed God and received God’s blessing. Every Christian leader will find their beliefs at odds with society if they lead long enough. When that happens, they, like Daniel, should seek to maintain their integrity before God and resolve the conflict without violating the spirit of the established rules or alienating those they work for or with. After all avenues of “win/win” have been exhausted a Christian leader will still have time to hold to their core values and not violate promises to God. Wise leaders have figured out that often it is their personal pride, not God’s will, that puts them at cross purposes with those they work with.
Without accountability to God’s established standards it is easy for leaders to abuse their power and influence.
Read Daniel 2:1-13.
Nebuchadnezzar was king of ancient Babylon and is often mentioned in the book of Daniel. He followed his father Nabopolassar to the throne after Nabopolassar made Babylon the dominate power of its day by defeating the Assyrians. Nebuchadnezzar’s first notable military victory was over Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. Judah had allied itself with Egypt for this battle and thus became an enemy of Babylon and, in 605, Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem. He took back to Babylon as captives several thousand of their brightest and best including Daniel and King Jehoiakim.
Babylon was a pagan nation and did not recognize the One True God of the Jews but rather worshiped a god named Marduk. Nebuchadnezzar felt he was tied directly to deity. He fancied himself as the favorite son of Nabu, the deity of wisdom and beloved son of Marduk. With this status Nebuchadnezzar became extremely powerful.
In Daniel chapter two, we see Nebuchadnezzar wield his power in an unreasonable way when he demanded that his counselors describe his dream in detail and then make the interpretation. Obviously he wouldn’t be duped by a false interpretation if his counselor could first tell him the dream. To enforce his demand he informed his counselors that if the dream and interpretation were not forthcoming he would put all his counselors to death.
Leaders today may not have the power of King Nebuchadnezzar but anyone of influence has the ability to make people’s lives better or unbearable. Leaders have the ability to lead with fairness or exercise authority that promotes self and shows favoritism. To those leaders who focus on the self-serving aspects of power, power means an opportunity for importance. God’s Word is clear that He is the source of all power and authority. Leaders who abuse power actually violate God’s trust in them as one who has been granted power.
The Bible records what Jesus told his disciples about the proper use of power. It did not look at all like Nebuchadnezzar’s impossible demands with severe consequences for the violators. In Matthew 20 Jesus says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28). God-honoring leaders look to God’s Word for their instructions concerning use of their power and influence.
Great leaders don’t usurp credit but with proper humility pass it on to the proper person or authority.
It may have appeared to the average person that Daniel was in Babylon as a captive taken from Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar. It is true he was there as a captive but sent by God to be His representative and a channel to speak God’s messages to the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar. One of the gifts God had given to Daniel that would help him with this task was the ability to interpret dreams. As you might guess such a gift would be suspect by those in authority because it would be easy to fabricate a logical explanation that flattered the dreamer so even though Daniel had the gift it could be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
God had a way to separate Daniel from the crowd of other advisors. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him and offered to lavish gifts on anyone that could not only interpret it but clearly detail the dream’s content; an impossible task for anyone other than a true seer. Daniel, along with trusted friends, sought God in prayer and God gave Daniel the dream’s content and interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar immediately recognized Daniel as the source of this extraordinary power that solved an un-solvable problem but Daniel refused to accept personal glory when he did not deserve it and immediately honored the God of heaven.
Like Daniel leaders can often find themselves in the position to accept recognition for an idea, discovery or process because they have been positioned to deliver the information. There is great temptation to accept the credit when it is due someone else but if God, or a subordinate, or a teammate deserves the credit truly great leaders pass it along. The character trait that best enables a leader to give credit where it is due is humility. The Bible is clear that God values humility:
- Isaiah 57:15 says, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
- Isaiah 66:2 says, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.”
- 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”
Have you found yourself being less than totally faithful to pass on credit to those it is due? With it so difficult to separate yourself from the “leadership pack” and recognition so hard to get, do you find it difficult to give up the recognition that may never come your way again? Do you fear that if you pass on recognition that you may miss the reward that goes with the recognition? This could happen but in Daniel’s case, according to verses 48-49, God had Nebuchadnezzar raise Daniel’s stock. Wise leaders trust God with their rewards and truly humble leaders give recognition where it is due.
A leader’s character will impact everything in their life.
Read Daniel 2.
Daniel was a Jewish man captive in Babylon. He could have tried to only survive the experience but instead he disciplined himself and developed God-honoring character traits taught by Moses, Samuel, David and other writers of what God had spoken to the Jewish people. He would not compromise his diet, his motives, his honesty, his integrity or his convictions. His actions showed that his character was more than talk. His character removed the limits put on most captives living in exile and, at least in part because of his character, God gave him a position of authority in a foreign land under a king that did not share his beliefs in the One True God.
John Maxwell in notes on Daniel chapter 2 in The Maxwell Leadership Bible says the following:
“How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character. Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it. Adversity makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. Every time a leader chooses character, he grows stronger.
Character is the foundation on which a leader builds his or her life. It all begins with character, because leadership operates on the basis of trust. People will follow a leader only so far as they trust him or her. Character communicates credibility, harnesses respect, creates consistency, and earns trust.”
Leaders often have little control over the circumstances of life but every leader will choose their character and reinforce those choices every time they make a decision. A leader’s character will determine who they are and their actions in every situation. Their choices concerning character not only affect their day-to-day working life but chart the course that allows a leader to finish well. Like Daniel, wise Christian leaders look to God’s Word for guidance as they make their character choices.
When Christian leaders make a stand for right verses wrong, they will need to depend on God to protect them from the firestorm that can follow.
Read Daniel 3:1-30.
Among the captives that were brought from Judah to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC were Daniel, King Jehoiakim and three of Daniel’s closest friends known in Bible by their Babylonian names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When these three men refused to worship a statue Nebuchadnezzar had made because they had chosen to worship only the One True God, they became instant enemies of the state and were scheduled for an execution that would make an example of them for all other potential dissenters. Their dependence on God would be tested with their life at stake.
No Christian leader can really model faith until they have developed a consistent dependence on God. All leaders who must live under financial pressures, meet deadlines, and deal with staff have plenty of reasons to worry or they can use those same reasons to depend on God. They must determine if they can believe that the same God who provided life can provide the lesser items needed to sustain life.
Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego if leaders want to impact their generation for God they need to lead in a way that allows others to see their faith in God. There will be times when it is hard to trust God but it is harder to understand why any leader would trust their own instincts after watching God provide for them over a lifetime.
Is your faith in God such that others see Him working through you? What one thing could you do each day to cultivate your dependence on God and demonstrate that dependence to others who are watching your example? God-honoring leaders find ways to develop their dependence on God so they are prepared when the firestorm hits and they face a test of their beliefs.
Psalm 62:7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
When leaders obey God with an unflinching resolve, God’s resources become available to them.
Read Daniel 3:1-30.
After Daniel, a Jewish exile in Babylon, had interpreted a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar he was appointed to a high position in Nebuchadnezzar’s government. At his request three of his friends were also elevated to administrators over the province of Babylon. These appointments of foreign nationals angered the Babylonian leaders who had served the king for a long time eyeing those positions.
Over time Nebuchadnezzar, never short on ego, had a huge gold statue constructed in his honor and demanded that every official and all the people no matter their national background bow and worship the statue when they heard any musical instrument played. Worshiping a false God was against the Jewish religion so Daniel’s three friends refused to bow to the statue. Nebuchadnezzar in his fury ordered them thrown into a blazing furnace to be cremated alive.
Most leaders will make few stands on moral principles in their life that compares to the stand taken by Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego. With their life on the line they chose to forfeit their life rather than worship a false god. These men made their life and death decision based on a core truth that God was real, more powerful than Nebuchadnezzar and could save them if He chose to do so.
It is interesting that God did not remove the problem from these faithful leaders but simply supplied the resources once they had fully committed to live only to honor and worship Him. Once a leader makes a total commitment, resources that are seldom or never available to a leader become available. For Daniel’s friends, God sent an angel to protect them in the midst of the flames with the result of them staying alive and Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging the One True God. John Maxwell in The Maxwell Leadership Bible has this note concerning a leader’s all out commitment to a core truth:
From the text we learn the following about developing commitment:
- It usually begins with a struggle.
- It seldom surrounds abilities or gifts.
- It is the result of choice, not conditions.
- It is fostered when we settle the issue before it arises.
- It is enhanced by deep trust in God.
- It lasts when we remain single-minded.
Have you found it difficult to make a stand for moral truths if the price is unreasonably high? Would you be willing to trust God to provide the resources for success even if every indication was you would lose your job and commit economic suicide? Wise God-honoring leaders develop a core truth concerning God’s sovereignty prior to the need for these kinds of tough decisions.
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