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(Part 56)


November 13, 2013
Today’s readings: Wisdom 6:1-11

The servant leader is called to lead the people of God, and is given corresponding authority, and those under him are told to obey and submit. This is according to the design of God, who entrusts His work to His people, under leaders He anoints. Now some leaders go astray, focusing on their power, position and authority. But their proper response is deep humility, knowing how totally inadequate they are to do the very work of God.

So we need to learn about true servant leadership. “Give ear, you who have power over multitudes and lord it over throngs of peoples!” (v.2). Following are essential principles of servant leadership.

First, “authority was given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High” (v.3a). You are His steward, His instrument. You are supposed to do His work, according to His ways. You are to use His power, position and authority not to promote yourself or your priorities or your agenda, but only His.

Second, because the first is so, then you are accountable. God will “probe your works and scrutinize your counsels!” (v.3b). In fact, “for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends.” (v.8). This is because God entrusts to you such an important work, that is, to oversee His body and His work, to strengthen the community in order that it can strongly and effectively do its mission. God has made you His representative, His witness, His instrument. What you do in His name reflects on Him, and impacts greatly on what He wants to accomplish in the world.

Third, with regards to such accountability, having been given divine authority to do divine work, with God putting so much at stake in your hands, God holds you to a higher standard than everyone else. Though “the Ruler of all shows no partiality” (v.7a) and shows mercy and gives grace to all, your evaluation will be more rigorous. “For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy, but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test.” (v.6). Thus do not compare yourself to someone doing less for God, or other leaders showing less commitment, or be satisfied because humans extol you, but rather, think of the loftiness of God and His work assigned to you, and know that you still fall short. So try harder, and give more of yourself.

Fourth, as a result of the scrutiny, God will severely punish those who fail Him. “Because, though you were ministers of his kingdom, you did not judge rightly, and did not keep his law, nor walk according to the will of God, terribly and swiftly he shall come against you, because severe judgment awaits the exalted” (v.4-5). What? You try to serve God but you are punished? Well, try to look at it from God’s point of view. He entrusts His very work to you. He depends on you. He has made the outcome of His plan for humanity dependent upon you. He has made you a minister of His Kingdom. But you did not govern His people with love and justice, or you broke His laws as you ruled His people, or you did not strive to walk in holiness and manifest such holiness to His people. Having been tasked to care for and to build up His people, if you in fact led His people astray or lied to His people or did not tend the flock as a true shepherd, then would God not be justified in punishing you?

Fifth, given the serious nature of your calling, while failing leads to serious negative consequences, succeeding leads to greater holiness. “For those who keep the holy precepts hallowed will be found holy” (v.10a). Servant leadership is very hard. It is often a thankless task. Those who do good are oftentimes those who will be maligned by their own brethren or subordinates. So why should we want to respond to this call? Because we are all called to be holy, and enduring the sacrifices and suffering and pain of authentic servant leadership is one of the better ways of growing in holiness. Jesus was the suffering Servant. He went to the cross for us all. As servant leaders we are supposed to follow in his footsteps, all the way to the cross as well.

So, servant leaders, heed these principles. “To you, therefore, O princes, are my words addressed that you may learn wisdom and that you may not fall away.” (v. 9). Discard the wisdom of the world, oftentimes secular, corporate or legalistic. Take on the mind of Christ, and be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Know that our ways are not God’s ways.

Further, know the principles of servant leadership. Otherwise you will not understand how God deals with you, and soon, when the difficulties come, you will find yourself dissatisfied and falling away. How unfortunate it is when servant leaders just quit or resign, because they did not get their way or they did not like the ongoing situation. They often do not even take up their quitting with other human leaders, those servant leaders placed by God over them. God gives them a wonderful, but painful, opportunity to grow in humility, trust, hope, self-denial, embrace of the cross, self-emptying, but they turn away. God gives them the way to holiness, but they choose not to follow that particular path.

Servant leadership is a very challenging call. God calls you not to make it hard for you, but because he wants to put you on a faster track in becoming more the person He intends for you to be. “Desire therefore my words; long for them and you will be instructed.” (v.11).

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