READ: Ezra 10
THINK: It’s an old saying but a true one nonetheless: You can’t be a leader if nobody follows you. So part of the question of leadership is: how do you get people to follow you? Throughout history there have been a number of different strategies. Some leaders have tried exerting military power to coerce people into following them. Others have used propaganda, blackmail, or manipulation. Still others have gained followers by telling them whatever they wanted to hear.
Ezra is an amazing example of a different type of leadership: spiritual leadership. Spiritual leaders like Ezra get followers for an entirely different reason: integrity and godly example. In Ezra 10 the nation repented for turning away from God towards false idols. This wasn’t because Ezra coerced them at the tip of the spear, because he lied to them or produced some sort of propaganda to entice them. It was because they watched him pray. And they watched him weep. And they saw his integrity and his genuine pursuit of God. And they saw God through him. And it was compelling! It was so compelling that they joined him in weeping, prayer, and repentance.
Whenever Ezra faced a crisis situation, his first response was to turn to God and seek God’s wisdom. He did it over and over again. He wasn’t concerned with telling people what they wanted to hear or with taking immediate action to address any and all concerns. He was concerned with being who God wanted him to be. His primary motivation was leading God’s way and serving as an example to the people he had been entrusted to steward.
Anyone who has been entrusted with spiritual leadership – of any sort or any magnitude – can learn a lot from Ezra. We cannot lead people where we have not been. And we will not gain followers and transform lives spiritual by our knowledge, our winning personalities, or our giftedness alone. Those things are merely supplements. Spiritual leadership must start with prayer. At its very core, at the foundation, it is about connecting with the heart of God and getting a vision of who he has called you to be so that you can reflect him to those around you. Spiritual leaders gain followers and change the world, one life at a time, by reflecting the character and the heart of God to the people they lead.
ASK: What would it be like if people who came into contact with you were more loving because the love of God oozed out of you? What would it be like if people around you were more honorable because they saw your integrity? What would it be like if people around you were more generous because they were profoundly moved by how you give?
How would your spiritual leadership be different if you were convinced – at the core of who you are – that your ability to teach, train, equip, love, serve, transform, etc. others is first and foremost tied to your Christlikeness?
PRAY: Ask God to line up your heart with his today. Ask him to give you a vision of who he has called you to be to those around you. Ask him to transform and sanctify you so that you might reflect him better to everyone you come into contact with.