Following a leader can be an exhilarating experience in new adventures or a fearful journey into failure. I’m usually happy to go along with leaders, first because I tend to choose carefully who to serve, and second because I like to blend in with others in achieving goals that depend on team work. However, I’ve had my share of submitting to leaders that are egotistical, narcissistic, and even sociopathic. So I’ve wrestled with the New Testament Scripture that says we are to “be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ…(Ephesians 6:5).”
Certainly it was easy for Israel to serve those kings who worshiped God; valiant warriors and people of faith followed these leaders with joy.
Few rose up, though, against King Ahaz who worshiped other gods and through which the nation fell into moral decline. The people were led astray by their own sins, as well.
Leadership has tremendous impact on followers. Think of how leaders in any organization demonstrate dependability and integrity, or corruption and negligence. Morale and the moral fabric of any organization, government, or family are affected by the character and goals of the leader.
So what makes a good leader? Successful reigns in the Bible were always an illustration on how to walk with God, seek His will, and worship only Him. Just as pictorial, however, were the poorly run kingdoms where the maverick king chose to do what he wanted, breaking tradition and going after the gods around him. The people fell in line with this kind of authority and were soon labeled just as wicked as their leader.
I wonder if that is why in John, we see how important Jesus Christ felt it was to pray for His disciples so that they could become “one with Him and the Father.” Since each of the disciples were entrusted with the commission to go into the world and teach and preach the kingdom of God, Christ expected that these leaders would have undivided hearts, unity of purpose, and faith in the Great Leader of all, God Almighty.
Though we may not be able to choose the leaders in our lives, I think it is fair to say that we can learn even by their mistakes to draw closer to God by prayer, supplication, and humble confessions. By being real with God in our prayers for our leaders, we show honor and respect for not only ‘the office’ but also the God who placed us career-wise, below others. God can use that kind of humility to get us out from under poor leaders or use us as a catalyst to make better leaders of them. When I realize that I am not in control, but the God of the universe is, then my perspective changes about following others. I know that I must do what is right toward them as a holy service to God.