If you’re a leader you have power and with that power comes responsibility. One of the greatest temptations of a leader is to use power for personal gain. It’s easy for us to recognize the absurd behavior of the CEO who gives himself an excessive bonus while his company is suffering economic hardship. But identifying our own self-serving behavior can be a little more challenging. Whether you put your needs above the needs of your team, use church resources for personal benefit, or take the credit instead of sharing credit, you risk losing credibility and the blessing of God on your leadership.
The contrast between a selfish leader and a servant leader in Jeremiah 22 fascinates me. In this short passage we see 4 principles for acting with Leadership Responsibility.
He (Shallum) says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’ So he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red. 15 “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father (Josiah) have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. 16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD. 17 “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.” Jeremiah 22:14-17
1. I will consider the needs of others before my own. King Shallum was thinking of himself first when he said, “I will build myself a great palace” (Jer 22: 14). He did so at the expense of his people.
2. I will measure the substance of my leadership not by what I have but how I serve others. Again King Shallum demonstrated a misunderstanding of the purpose of leadership. God confronts his paradigm when he says, “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar” (Jer 22:15) What are you using to measure substance of your leadership?
3. I will seek to be moved by what moves the heart of God. God praised former King Josiah when he pointed out, “He defended the cause of the poor and needy” (Jer 22:16). The passage goes on to say this kind of action demonstrates that a leader knows God.
4. I will honor rather than abuse those who follow my leadership. King Shallum was guilty of abusing his followers, he took advantage of those he lead in order to serve his own selfish purposes. God accuses him, “your eyes and your heart are set only on oppression and extortion” (Jer 22:17)
Are you using your power to serve others or serve yourself?