All things being equal, as is shown in the Kings of Israel, where only three of 42 were of good report, all leaders are destined to decline into decadence if they don’t intentionally arrest the slide. It’s a slide of human-made proportions when that human being loses sight of the original vision to serve their people.
Kings and other leaders start well by serving the law, before they make the law, which precedes their becoming the law, and the final nail is hammered into the coffin of decline when they become their own god.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Good leaders will sense their own propensity to stray from God in their leadership; a sign of which is to surround themselves with a mutual admiration society, which serves only to comfort their ego. Then they have ceased to be leaders.
Leaders who go on such a bent of a slide end up gaining the whole world only to lose their own souls. They get too busy to attend to the important relational matters. They become consumed in building the empire and forget that God is an all-consuming fire who demands first place for the leader’s own good.
God wants from every single one of us everything. Anything less isn’t enough. If we stray for a day, a week, a month, or a year is irrelevant. Our humanity is bound to stray into idolatry.
We must put steps into place so we continually acknowledge this truth – “I am the biggest problem I have.”
The winner is seldom happy for very long. Success as we define it is a perverted thing.
A.W. Tozer (1897–1963) was right when he said, “No man is worthy to succeed unless he is willing to fail.” But we want things our own way. And the leader who is deluded wants increasingly, like an addict, for things to go their way.
A leader must constantly ask God, “Lord, where is my sacred ‘high place’ [of idolatry] that I protect from you?” “What do I refuse to give up – that which comes between me and you?”
The heart of the human problem, as Canon J. John once said, is the problem of the human heart. The Holy Spirit is always saying, “Look up!” But humanity is always saying, “Look down!” Where is heaven and where is hell?
For too long we have undermined the awesomeness of God. We have become anesthetised to good instruction and we have been blessed by too many good things that many of us think we don’t need God, even if we profess faith in him. This only sends us into spiritual decline. And life becomes a chasing of the wind. A miserable life.
The best things a leader can do are wake up and stay awake. They must keep putting God first by getting rid of the high places (idols) in their lives.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: to the heart and wisdom of Peter Pollock.