We all have leaders.
We all have people in our life who have gone before us. God lives in a beautiful servant-leadership called the Trinity. He created humans in a beautiful servant-leader relationship when He created Adam and Eve. Families have leaders - they're called parents. Whether it's our workplace, church, family, community, wherever - there are people who lead us and people we lead (whether we're all aware of it or not). It's a role we need to take seriously - because it affects those who come after us.
One of the biggest lies we can believe is that leaders have to be perfect. Truth: God is the only perfect Leader. That's why we call him the Good Shepherd! And the rest of us human beings?
We're what you call beautifully imperfect leaders ...
Take Abraham for example. He was an amazing leader. In fact, we're still talking about the guy thousands of years later. When he was in Canaan (where he was a foreigner) they even called him a "prince of this land" (Genesis 23:5). He had a positive impact and great influence on those around him. However, he wasn't flawless. One of his not-so-good displays of leadership was lying about being Sarah's husband and telling everyone she was his sister in order to self-protect (twice!) We read about it in Genesis 12 and again in chapter 20. In doing so he left her unprotected and also those who would come after him, because they followed his pattern. 6 chapters later, Isaac, his son, ends up doing the exact same thing! The bible doesn't say Isaac repeated the offence "because he saw his dad do it". It just mentions flat out that this is what he did. To me it is the obvious display of a generational pattern.
We do what our leaders DO, not what they say
Which unfortunately means the good and the bad - unless intentionally taught otherwise. We tend to imitate them and follow in their pattern. The thing is, our leaders are not flawless. Nor should we expect them to be. We need great and trustworthy leaders in our lives to help guide and direct us and give us wisdom - but ultimately, The Good Shepherd is our go-to-guy before everyone else. He is needed so that we pick up the good things from our leaders but not the bad. He guides, protects & instructs us gently and firmly. He's not afraid to speak the truth to us in love.
/// HEBREWS 1 3 : 1 7 ///
"Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you The Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their fruitfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn't change - yesterday, today and tomorrow, he's always totally himself."
Do you see what is being encouraged here? Don't copy every little thing about your leaders - that could get weird - but APPRECIATE them. Appreciate who they are and what they've done. Actually look at their lives - their choices, their actions, their words - and let their FRUITFULNESS instruct you. Don't critique their flaws and failings - and don't copy it either! Let their fruitfulness - their strengths and greatness - be what inspires you and set a pattern for you to follow. And ultimately, who are we really patterning ourselves after here? JESUS! The Good Shepherd. The Good (perfect) Leader "who doesn't change - yesterday, today and tomorrow, he's always totally himself."
Who are your leaders? I am a leader. In fact, I am a leader in many areas of my life. I'm a pastor. A worship leader. A coach. A teacher. A preacher. I lead from the pulpit and I lead at home when it's time to start potty training. (Not me - I'm good in that area, thanks.) But my most important call of leadership is being a mother to my daughters. I am not strong in every area of leadership. This does not make me a bad leader - it makes me an imperfect leader - which we all are, including Abraham.
Our intent must never be to criticise and complain about those who lead us - but to get intentional about LEARNING from the good fruit that is flourishing in their lives, and UNLEARNING any bad leadership patterns we may have unintentionally copied - like Isaac. Let's commit to keeping our hearts teachable yet discerning when it comes to those above and around us. Let's endeavour to appreciate and celebrate those who have gone before us.
Let's not put our leaders on a pedestal that only Jesus should stand on
Instead, why don't we allow them to be human and imperfect at the same time?