There was once a great leader of one of the most powerful nations on earth. This person commanded the respect of all who knew him and all who knew of him—he not only had the position but he had earned their respect through his many successful, beguiling conquests.
He was both noble and humble and he stood for justice and was an advocate for the weaker people of poor standing who needed him. He took great blows for these marginalised people and he used his power and influence courageously in the most selfless of ways.
But, one day whilst he was attending diligently to the people’s needs he fell unwittingly for a trap. He began to ask himself what personal gain he was getting for all the grief and heartache he was receiving as to the testimony of an advocate. He began thinking about the personal costs of his selflessness.
It just seemed as though he was being used more and more and that the people were beginning to take him, and his power and compassion, for granted.
The more the leader thought about it the more he saw this new hideous, insidious reality—this people didn’t deserve his gracious leadership, after all, they behaved most of the time like a rabble of whingers!
The leader began to become more and more blinded to the people’s genuine plight—which was an ever-present predicament—and he became more and more sensitive to his own needs.
Soon he was investing his time, effort and money in pursuits that, in the balance of things, were to his benefit more directly. The sinking focus on the people he was governing was starting to show in many ways.
The unsheltered poor and the vulnerable widows, for instance, were the first to notice the changes. Crime increased. Security also dwindled and fear began to reign. Soon even soldiers and high-ranking officials, and even the very privileged, were taken to hiding from the night.
On one particular night there was a vicious rape and murder committed—the likes of which this nation had never ever seen before. The very same night three shops were torched with one shop-keeper incinerated, and a poor beggar was mugged, mutilated and left for dead—he later died. Everyone who had been a victim had been representative of those humble persons who genuinely needed the leader’s courageous and righteous sense of justice.
It took this ugly set of inhumane incidents for the leader to finally realise that things were going horribly wrong and that he might possibly be the only one capable of arresting the slide. Only later did he work out—in real practical terms—that with great authority comes great responsibility.
The more the leader turned his eye and ear to the truth of the recent past, and of his selfishness, the more he learned how far his apple had fallen from the sovereign tree. He was devastated. He committed every day to repent of his great sin and restore the place of his dominion to what it once was.
The leader did manage to arrest the societal decay that was rapidly forming. It was hard for him to be humbled in this way but he did manage to re-establish control over a significant time period.
And the moral to the story for the leader is?
“Should you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.”
—Jeremiah 45:5a (NIV).
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.