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.
Do you feel your situation is hopeless
and your team will never respond?
Even the best leaders are unable to turn some situations around.
Read Ezekiel 14:12-23.
The Lord came to Ezekiel when he was speaking to the elders of Israel exiled in Babylon and gave him a message of condemnation for their ongoing practice of idolatry. God named three of His best from their Jewish history including Daniel, a very familiar one who was a well-known leader during the exile, and stated that even they would not have been able to save this rebellious people from themselves. Even though all three were full of integrity, character, and discipline, totally competent and responsible to do the right thing; God says even they could save only themselves because the people would not listen to them.
Leaders are designed by God to do what they do – lead! If their team is not responding they assume that the application of more leadership, closer supervision, more and closer checkpoints to monitor progress, seeking different counsel, or a myriad of other techniques will help them gain momentum and bring a situation under control, and generally it does. But, there are times, according to Ezekiel 14, when people’s hearts become so hard that no leader can succeed.
I have seen times when a leader has had their head down for days, months or years looking inward because they could not get a team to respond. Truth be known, no leader could turn some of these teams around. It should and generally does take an experienced leader, who has seen success, a long time to give up on trying to turn a situation from chaos to productive but according to Ezekiel, there may arise a situation where people won’t change. In Matthew 10 when Jesus sent His team out to various towns and gave them supernatural authority over the spirit world and disease and sickness, Jesus told His team there would be a time they may have to leave a town or individuals that were hard hearted (v 14).
Do you feel your situation is hopeless and your team will never respond? Do you think it may be time to move on for your own sanity and self-preservation? Today’s study contains elements that can be tricky. Leaders’ emotion to the lack of success can convince them they are in an impossible situation and should leave. That may be true or like with Joseph in the Bible, God may have you in a specific situation for a period of development for greater things in the future. If there is ever a time for a leader to seek the heart and wisdom of God it is when they are determining to give up on an individual or a team. Wise, God-honoring leaders pray they stay in God’s will, seek God’s wisdom, pray for discernment and don’t make emotional, rash, knee-jerk decisions when it comes to giving up on a team.
Psalm 94:14 “For the Lord will not reject His people; He will never forsake His inheritance.”
Are you experiencing a high rate of turnover
among the senior leadership?
A leader will attract like minded individuals.
Read Ezekiel 16:23-29.
God delivered a strong message of condemnation of the city of Jerusalem through Ezekiel to the Jews exiled in Babylon. It was meant to dash the hopes of those who still had dreams of returning to their homeland and once again living in the glorious city of Jerusalem. Through Ezekiel God explains to the people the many ways those living in the city had broken their covenant with Him and just why Jerusalem would be destroyed. Verses 23-29show how the attitude of the religious elite in Jerusalem toward honoring the gods of other nations had given rise to construction of images of pagan gods in public areas of the city and had attracted worshipers of the gods from Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon.
Leaders establish the organizational climate that attracts or repulses certain kinds of individuals. This is a law of behavior that functions as surely as the law of gravity. I have seen times when, for appearance, a leader desired to have people on their team with God-honoring core values. They sought out those kinds of individuals and hired them but there was high turnover. They could hire God-honoring individuals but they couldn’t hold them because their inner-hidden-deeper-secret core values were not God-honoring but self-serving. I have seen other times when an individual desired to work for an organization because of their great reputation and managed to gain employment there but soon left because they really had no desire to live under God-honoring core values.
A leader’s defined values are like a GPS unit that electronically controls the rudder of a ship; once values are established, if there is any change of an organization’s behavior consistently violating those established values, a leader’s internal alarms go off and the leader takes action to steer the organization back on course. When the leader and team have the same values the team functions well together in the midst of this value course correction; when the leader and a team member have different values there is frustration and a questioning of the reason for change. Team members tend to stay with leaders and organizations that function in unity and tend to leave when major philosophical differences continue to be the order of the day.
Has your team been put together based on needed skills but ignoring individual defined values? Are you experiencing a high rate of turnover among the senior leadership based on philosophical differences? Wise leaders understand that when they live by specific values they will attract individuals that have the same core values and repulse those of different core values.
Are justice and fairness hallmarks of your leadership?
Leaders will be held accountable by God for how they deal with justice and fairness in their leadership.
While Ezekiel, speaking for God to those exiled in Babylon, was describing the ways Jerusalem had offended God he makes some comparisons to other cities God had destroyed for their evil practices. One of those cities the Jewish people in Ezekiel’s audience knew well was Sodom because it was directly tied to the father of their faith, Abraham, and his nephew Lot. Of all of Sodom’s sins (Genesis 19), notice which ones God singled out. Their arrogance and self-centeredness brought about a failure to use power and resources that gave justice to the poor and needy.
If after honest self-evaluation of the core values a leader admits their heart desires power, wealth, or fame more than anything else, it will be impossible for that leader to be a leader who strives for justice. When a leader’s focus is on self, justice and fairness rarely advance their cause.
Justice is a by-product of the pursuit of God and the pursuit of God is the antithesis of putting self first. God’s prophet Zechariah, when writing to Israel’s religious leaders, addressed justice and mercy as elements that are irreplaceable in the foundation of moral leadership. Zechariah said, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other’” (Zechariah 7:9-10). Even a leader’s religious observances are of little value if the community has no concern for social justice.
Real justice involves the application of power and influence to other-centered concerns. This kind of justice is counter-intuitive and only appears when a leader has Christlike attitude toward self and others. According toPhilippians 2:3-4 a leader should “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Are justice and fairness hallmarks of your leadership? Do you struggle to be fair? If when you look back over your decisions in the last 12 months you can see your track record would not pass God’s tests for justice, seek God’s wisdom and guidance to make changes that make justice a mainstay of your leadership. According to Proverbs 16:11-12tlb, your right to lead depends on being just and fair: “The Lord demands fairness in every business deal. He established this principle. It is a horrible thing for a king (a leader) to do evil. His right to rule depends upon his fairness.”
Do you have situational leadership skills?
The best leaders assess every situation and respond appropriately.
Read Ezekiel 18:1-32.
The Jewish people used a proverb that said the next generation would suffer the consequences for the actions of the current generation. Ezekiel was directed to tell the people that this proverb will no longer be used by the people. The goal was to let the people living in exile in Babylon know that if they lived a God-honoring life they would flourish as a people even though their relatives living in Judah were still in rebellion against God. Ezekiel was to make it clear that God looked at each specific situation and it was their own actions that would determine their blessing or curse not the actions of the generation before. Chapter 18 makes it clear that God discerns each individual situation and responds appropriately for each situation.
Situational leadership is not easy. Every leader develops patterns and instinctively reacts from those patterns. Situational leadership requires a leader to use their discernment and to do the work to gather accurate information on the current information. The leader cannot act or react on a desire or whim but must determine a specific intelligent action plan based on this situation. Effective leadership is driven by the situation and what the team needs to do this time around. Situational leadership requires watching, listening and investing time and energy to analyze the facts as they are. Wise leaders don’t throw out the lessons of experience or stop listening to their gut instincts but rather selectively apply them based on their discernment of specific needs for this current situation.
When a new situation arises are some of your first thoughts “we have never done it that way”? Do you have a pattern of reacting to new situations with solutions used in earlier days? Have you seen limited success with new situations from your first actions and consistently having to revise the plan after an initial failure? These are signs that you are not an accomplished situational leader.
Since life is full of unexpected circumstances and situational twists the wise leader takes the time to develop situational leadership skills. Just as Ezekiel told the Jewish people living in Babylon that God would handle each situation based on its merits and would not judge the son for the father’s crimes, effective leaders are very intentional to handle each situation on its own merits.
Have you found yourself without self-control in various situations?
If leaders can’t rule themselves they can’t rule others.
Read Ezekiel 19:1-14.
Ezekiel wrote an allegorical lament in chapter 19 concerning the princes of Israel. He pictured them as out of control roaring lions that were eventually caught in a net and taken into captivity. Because none of them had the self-discipline to rule themselves they were removed from leadership and not allowed to rule others.
Self-discipline is the ability to do what is necessary or sensible without needing to be urged by somebody else even when the assignment is unpleasant. Self-discipline is one of the fruits of the spirit and generally leaders who can demonstrate self-control are productive, dependable, influential leaders. When a leader develops self-discipline they apply it to all areas of their life and it is as beneficial in their home and social life as it is in the workplace. Self-discipline affects productivity, financial accountability, physical fitness, the ability to stick to a strategy or task and a hundred other areas of our life.
Anyone who has served in the military understands that consistent training can develop self-discipline. During my time in the Marine Corp we were trained to be so self-disciplined that we would move under fire at significant personal risk on command no questions asked. None of the guys I served with would have considered such an idea practical prior to our training but because of the repetitious training to control our emotions, trust our leader, and respond to instruction in any given situation; after just a few months we developed self-control that dominated our decisions even when we were in harms way.
Have you found yourself without self-control in various situations? Do you seem to give up easily when the physical or emotional job conditions become extremely difficult? According to Ezekiel this lack of self-control could eventually remove you from leadership. Effective leaders identify the habits they need to change to be self-disciplined and find ways to build them into their life so they can lead with diligence. Self-control isn’t a “just add water” kind of fix. It will take work but the wise leaders know disciplined habits will give them the momentum they need to not only move forward, but also to live their life with strength and purpose.
Do you have an ever growing awareness that you are accountable to God?
Every leader, no matter their understanding or belief in God, will ultimately be accountable to Him.
God had Ezekiel prophesy that He would bring a destroying force against Judah. His intention was to use Babylon, a pagan nation, to fulfill His judgment against Judah by having Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attack Jerusalem, the capitol city of Judah. The great Babylonian king was God’s instrument and he didn’t even know it. Even leaders who fail to acknowledge God’s existence are ultimately accountable to Him.
In its most basic form accountability is simply being responsible to somebody or for something. In a world where virtually everyone desires the freedom to be accountable only to himself, every created being, whether humans or angels, are accountable to God. Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful individual in the known world and was treated like a god by the people of Babylon and every nation he captured. Yet in verses 18-23, God directed his path to set up siege ramps against Jerusalem, gave him an assignment to take the city with his sword, and held him accountable for the results.
The mind and ways of God are hard to interpret. God’s judgments are beyond human investigation and understanding. He does not consult with any leader and He does not explain Himself to any leader. Rather, it is every leader’s responsibility to trust Him and submit to His purposes. This is true whether a leader understands where God is leading them or not.
In today’s world where people want to make truth relative to current circumstances, understanding and interpretation, the real truth of the Bible is that every knee will bow before God and “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Christian leaders must have an ever-growing awareness that “…we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” 2 Corinthians 5:10.
Hebrews 4:13 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
God-honoring leaders will stand in the gap for their team.
Read Ezekiel 22:1-31.
Through Ezekiel God describes the leaders in Judah and Jerusalem. They oppressed and destroyed those God had given them influence over. God contrasts that in verse 30 with the kind of leader he is looking for that will “stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land (and the people) so I would not have to destroy it.” Because there were no leaders who were not self-serving, God brought judgment on the entire nation of Judah.
In his study notes in the Maxwell Leadership Bible John Maxwell lists 10 traits of leaders God affirms:
- Consecration: They set themselves apart and remain committed to their call.
- Discipline: They do what is right even when it is difficult.
- Servanthood: They model a selfless life, lived for the benefit of others.
- Vision: They see what God sees and live off the power of potential.
- Compassion: Love for their cause and their people moves them to action.
- Trustworthiness: They keep their word regardless of what others do.
- Decisiveness: They make good decisions in a timely manner.
- Wisdom: They think like God thinks and avoid impetuous moves.
- Courage: They take risks for what is right.
- Passion: They demonstrate enthusiasm for their divine calling.
When your team comes under scrutiny from senior management is your first instinct to stand in the gap and defend your team’s actions or is your very first instinct to protect yourself and toss them under the bus? If your first thought was to protect yourself rather than stand in the gap for your team, your attitude would disqualify you from being counted with the leaders God called for in verse 30. The good news is there is time to change should you sense the conviction that you are wrong. The list above from John Maxwell can become your vision targets for change.
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